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About Shiga Prefecture, Japan

Home of Lake Biwa (Biwako 琵琶湖), Japan's largest lake and water supply for Kyoto and Osaka (14 million people).

Location: Next to Kyoto in the east, Gifu in the west, Mie in the south, and Fukui in the north. Map

Population (as of 2014-06-01): 1,416,468 including 19,938 foreigners

Major cities: Otsu (capital), Hikone, Nagahama, Omi-Hachiman, Higashi-Omi, Maibara

Major gateways: JR Kyoto Station and JR Maibara Station (Tokaido Shinkansen), JR Yamashina Station (Kosei Line)

Former name(s): Omi (Ohmi)

*Background photo: Mt. Ibuki and camellias in Maibara.

Shiga History

The two biggest factors influencing Shiga's history have been Japan's largest lake called Lake Biwa and Shiga's location next to Kyoto, the old Imperial Capital of Japan where the Emperor of Japan resided.
Lake Biwa, called Biwako, covers one-sixth the area of Shiga. Originally formed 4 million years ago in Iga, Mie Prefecture, Lake Biwa started small and underwent...more

*Background photo: Hikone Castle's architecture in spring.

Lake Biwa

Japan's largest lake and water supply for Kyoto and Osaka (14 million people).

Lake Biwa (Biwako 琵琶湖) is Japan's largest lake and one of the world's oldest lakes dating back 4 million years. Looking like a belly button near the center of Honshu island, it is easy to spot on a map of Japan in Shiga Prefecture. The lake's long history and diverse habitats gave rise to over 70 endemic fish (17) and...more

*Background photo: Rowing on northern Lake Biwa.

Major Sights

Besides Japan's largest lake, Shiga has a World Heritage Site, one of the four castles that is a National Treasure, and 22 buildings designated as National Treasures. This is the third highest number after Nara (64) and Kyoto (48).

*Background photo: Kaizu-Osaki cherry blossoms in Takashima.

Shiga's Major Festivals

Festivals are called "Matsuri" (M.). Shiga has a plethora of them year-round (months 1–12).
Complete list here.

*Background photo: Sagicho Matsuri in Omi-Hachiman in mid-March.

Shiga Culture

*Background photo: Shigaraki tanuki (raccoon dog), an auspicious symbol of Shiga.

Shiga Cities & Towns (滋賀の全市町)

*Background photo: Traditional townscape in Omi-Hachiman.

Transportation to and around Shiga

Trains are the most convenient way to get to Shiga Prefecture. Two shinkansen bullet train stations serve as the main gateways to Shiga: Maibara Station in northern Shiga and Kyoto Station in neighboring Kyoto. There are no airports in Shiga.
You can get on the Tokaido Shinkansen, JR Tokaido Line (also called Biwako Line in Kyoto/Shiga), JR Kosei Line, JR Hokuriku Line, and Keihan Keishin Line (from Kyoto) to reach Shiga....more

*Background photo: Shinkansen bullet train in Maibara amid rice paddies.