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Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Otsu
Population
1,342,811

Shiga

Stunning views from all directions

In Shiga, you can't turn around without seeing something magnificent.

Shiga Prefecture is so full of scenic views you’ll feel as though you’ve fallen into a postcard. Forming a mountainous ring around the vast and majestic Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture is all about enjoying the beautiful scenery. Many of the prefecture’s best attractions are centered around the lake, where you’ll find great hiking and water sports.

Temples and one of Japan’s most well-preserved feudal castles aren’t far away. It’s an easy day trip from Kyoto though it’s worth staying longer to respect the “mother lake.”

Otsu City

Mangetsuji Temple

Mangetsuji Temple is otherwise known as “the floating temple.”

Start your trip at Otsu City, the prefectural capital of Shiga. Located a mere ten minutes from Kyoto prefecture, the city offers scenic views of Lake Biwa.

The town’s main attractions include hopping on an American paddle-wheel boat for a cruise around the lake in the daytime or taking a nighttime sightseeing boat to see the lake’s fountains light up. Stroll along the waterfront and spend some time unwinding at one of the many onsen hotels that line the shore. 

Cycling is also a popular way to enjoy Lake Biwa—you can make a loop of either a section or all of the lake, stopping off at the sights on the way. If time permits, pay a visit to Mangetsuji Temple, otherwise known as the “floating temple hall.”

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle Shiga

A great cherry blossom viewing spot with views of Lake Biwa.

As one of the most historic sites in the prefecture, Hikone Castle is worth visiting. With its roots tracing back to the Battle of Sekigahara, the castle has been reconstructed several times throughout history. Given initially to Naomasa Ii, a warrior who aided Tokugawa Ieyasu in battle, Hikone Castle was moved to the top of Mount Hikone, where it received its namesake.

Near the castle is Genkyu-en, a garden with Chinese influence home to over 1,200 cherry blossom trees that paint the sky pink during spring. Whether you happen to be a history buff or not, the scenery surrounding the castle alone should compel you to drop by through your tour of the prefecture.

Mount Hiei

The view from Mount Hiei over Lake Biwa.

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge and want to see yet another perspective of Lake Biwa, a hike up Mt. Hiei to Enryaku-ji Temple might be a great way to end your trip. Located right at the border of Kyoto and Shiga a day spent at Mt.Hiei offers breathtaking views of both prefectures.

For those who’d rather take the cable car up the mountain, there are two separate lines that run from both Kyoto and Shiga. The Hieizan Sakamoto Cable Railway also has the honor of being the longest cable car route in Japan so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the view.

Plan your trip to Shiga with the links below!

Places to visit

Isaki-ji Temple

At this remote temple on stunning Lake Biwa, monks make leaps of faith in a 1,000-year-old tradition.

Chomei-ji Temple in Shiga, Japan.

Chomei-ji Temple

The secret to long life turns out to be 808 precarious stone steps and a beautiful view of Lake Biwa.


Mount Hiei between the Kyoto and Shiga, Japan

Mount Hiei

Tradition meets history and natural beauty on Kyoto’s sacred mountain.

Hikone Castle

Tradition and gumption.


Otsu City

Otsu is host to some of Japan’s most beautiful views. Just a short day trip from Kyoto, it's worth a visit.

Enryaku-ji Temple

A mountainside temple with a splash of mystery and stunning autumn leaves.


Ishiyama Temple

A secluded paradise with much historic and literary significance not too far from Kyoto.

Omi Maiko Beach on Lake Biwa

Omi-Maiko Beach

A beautiful beach on the shores of Japan's most famous lake.

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