When to travel?

Climate in Shiga varies a lot, as there is Japan Sea side area, as well as the inner area.  The area around Biwako Lake is warmer and mild thanks to its enough water that keeps the temperature stable.

Best season: Mar-Nov (Jun is monsoon, Jul-Aug could hot)
Cherry blossoms: end of Mar-Apr
Foliage: Nov-Dec

Events / Festivals

Apr: Nagahama Hikiyama festival (長浜曳山祭), Nagahama 長浜
Apr: Hiyoshi Sanno festival (日吉山王祭), Otsu
May: Hotpot festival (鍋冠祭), Maibara 米原
Aug: Senko festival (船幸祭), Otsu
Aug: Biwako fireworks festival (びわ湖大花火大会), Otsu
Oct: Otsu festival (大津祭), Otsu

Touristic spots

Capital city: Shiga (滋賀)

Otsu is the capital of Shiga.  The location of Otsu is very convenient from Kyoto, and there might be a lot of people who are visiting this city without even noticing, because there is a World Heritage site which belongs to the Old city Kyoto, which actually is in Shiga.  That is Hieizan (比叡山).

Hieizan is a name of the mountain, which is between Shiga and Kyoto prefecture.  On top of the mountain, there is a temple called Enryakuji temple (延暦寺), where countless top monks had gone through discipline.  The temple has a long history of more than 1000 years, and they have played an important role in the Japanese history.  According to the old fortune telling, the mountain is also considered as a guardian of Kyoto city, which works to obstruct the evil things to go into Kyoto.

The holy temple and the mountain that protects Kyoto city.
Ishiyama temple (石山寺) is a place where old, famous author wrote her story.
Mii temple (三井寺) is also a historical temple which was originally constructed in 7th century.

Omi Hachiman(近江八幡)

Omi Hachiman is a name of the city, located right next to the Japanese biggest lake Biwako.  The city once had a castle and the culture was cultivated.  Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed so there are just some ruins now, however, we can still feel good-old times of that period.  There are canals in the city and we can enjoy a boat ride.

Hikone (彦根)

Hikone is another city of castle.  The city had been playing an important role in connecting cities to cities.  Hikone castle is one of the only 12 castles with original roof, which is nominated as National Treasure.

Hikone castle, whose roof is original.
Hikone castle is also known as the best place to enjoy cherry blossoms.  More than 1000 trees surround the castle.

Maibara (米原)

The city known as a hub of transportation.  It is the only Shinkansen train station in Shiga and the access to Chubu or Kinki is very convenient.

Samegaishuku (醒井宿), spring water gathers to Jizo river (地蔵川).
Tokugenin (徳源院) is known for a foliage spot.

Shigaraki (信楽)

A small city, but their Tanuki Racoon pottery is quite famous throughout Japan!  It is believed that this animal will bring you more success in business, so that the pottery of Tanuki is placed at the entrance of traditional restaurants in Japan.

Not only Racoon statues but also their plates and pots are highly-evaluated, too.

Tanuki Racoon, an animal that exists only in Japan.

Chikubu Island (竹生島)

This is the second biggest island in Shiga located in the Biwako Lake.  The access is only by ferry, which takes about 30 minutes from Nagahama city (長浜), or 40 minutes from Hikone (彦根).

Hogonji temple (宝厳寺), which has an origin back in 8th century.