Posted July 19th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests No Comments »

Shiga is a prefecture located in the centre of the main island in Japan.  …and also, my hometown!  Prefecture means something like “suburb” “state” “county” … few people didn’t understand what “prefecture” means when I was talking about Japan, so just in case.

Shiga is not a large city, and there are lots of mountains and rice field.  so, it has a typical country side landscape.  In fact some area in Shiga is really rustic and you can see nothing but mountains.  In Japanese, we call this type of place as “inaka”.

My house is near mountains and rice fields as well, but fortunately I was more into “city side” and often went out to Kyoto/Osaka side, so I didn’t really feel like I was living in a mountain :p  That’s the thing I like about Shiga.  One side has a totally “inaka” environment, and other has a city environment.  I’m not talking about big city like Osaka or Tokyo of course, but the size of city in Shiga is just right, and it’s quite similar to Perth actually.  Wide road, nice view, not too busy…  In fact, Kusatsu-city, near the capital city of Shiga (capital city is Otsu-city) was voted as “the most livable city in Japan” few years ago.  So was Nagahama-city, which is just above Hikone-city in Shiga.

(you can see some photos I took on my last trip here.  Just scroll down to the bottom.  Also this is the photos I took near my house in 2003)

For people who might have an interest in visiting this place, I’ve listed up a few things what people can do in this prefecture ↓↓↓


The biggest lake, and one of the world’s most ancient lakes in Japan, Biwako Lake is in Shiga prefecture.  Biwako Lake is a very famous fishing spot and people from other prefectures and even from other countries visit Biwako Lake every year.  Some people might have heard this news but a 10.12kg, 73.5 cm bass was caught on the 2nd of July this year (just few weeks ago) by Manabu Kurita, a pro staffer representing Deps Tackle Co. in Japan.  Wow…   I used to swim in the lake when I was a kid!  I’m really happy that I didn’t see something like this huge fish in the water then.  Besides black basses, you can fish bluegills, sweetfishes, carps (koi) etc…  My grandpa liked fishing and I ate lots of fish (including koi) back then at home.

<Biwako Cruise>

“Michigan” cruise is one of most popular entertainment of Biwako Lake.  “Michigan” is a name of this ferry and it’s got 2~3 stories.  I’ve been on this ferry when I was little and remember enjoying popcorn and entertainment on the deck while feeling refreshing breeze.  Cruise leaves from Otsu Port, goes up north to Biwako Lake Bridge and returns back.

<Rowboat Tour>

This tour is a famous tourist attraction in Ohmihachiman-city.  The lord Toyotomi Hidetugu, about 400 years ago, was the first one who toured through the canals following a sail of royal people. Take a roofed 6-seater rowboat through winding canals running into Biwako Lake. You can enjoy seasonal changes in the scenery of Omihachiman.

<Biwako Lake Museum>

This museum is in Kusatsu-city (my grandma lives there).  I’m not really a museum person but I like going there!  There are various exhibits showing : how to think of environmental issues, how Biwako Lake was formed, the history of relationship between the lake and the people… but also lots of fish that live in Biwako Lake.  It’s like an aquarium, really.  You can see various kinds of fresh water fish and animals including turtles, ducks, deep-sea (lake?) fish and fresh water sharks.  You can experience some activities too, so it may be a good place for kids to explore.  You can see some of exhibits closely and touch some of them directly.  Videos and PC software are available for public perusal, and you can look at some specimens through the microscope at one of the galleries.  Very interesting to see how Japanese people lived in decades ago.

<Biwako Valley>

The nearest ski ground from Kyoto/Osaka/Kobe area.  .Most courses are designed for beginners and intermediates.  During the off-season, it’s also fun to explore the mountain, riding in a 120-seater ropeway car, looking for animals and flowers. I used to go there every winter while I was in elementary school for skiing.  (one of school activity)

<Ishiyama-dera Temple>

Ishiyama-dera Temple is one of the most famous holy places for Goddess of Mercy as well as Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto and Hasedera Temple in Nara.  Ishiyama-dera Temple was often described in ancient literary works such as “Suzumushi Nikki” “Sarashina Nikki” and “Makura-no-Soshi”  It has been said that Murasaki-shikibu conceived an idea for “Tale of Genji – Genji Monogatari” while she stayed at Ishiyama-dera Temple.  The temple is also known as one of views in Omi -Genji Monogatari.  Very historical place!  My high school was just near this temple.

<Hiyoshi Grand Shrine>

Hiyoshi Grand Shrine, also known as Sanno Gongen, is the head temple of Hiyoshi sect of Shinto.  Various beautiful shrines remain on the premise, such as a national treasure Higashi Hon-to and Nishi Hon-to.  Hiyoshi Osanbashi Bridge is said to be the oldest stone bridge in Japan. It is designated as an important cultural property.  Gorgeous Hiyoshi Toshogu Shrine is about 300M south from Hiyoshi Grand Shrine.  Hiyoshi Toshogu Shrine decorated with colorfully painted carvings has kept its original shape since early Edo period!

<Old Chikurin In Garden>

This is in Otsu-sity, the capital of Shiga prefecture.  The garden of Chikurin In Temple (one of the most respected temples among Enryakuji Temple) sits at the foot of Mt. Hachioji and clear water of Omiya River runs into the winding creek.  Two teahouses and a waiting room built during Tensho period (1573-1592) are designated as cultural properties by Otsu-city.  Visitors can enjoy a serving of green tea in the hall where the beautiful garden can be seen throughout the year.

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