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Comprehensive English guide to Shiga Prefecture, Japan, home of Koka/Koga ninja, Hikone Castle, Enryakuji Temple (Mt. Hiei), Shigaraki pottery, Harie village, and Japan largest lake. Find here 1000s of photos, videos, festival info, maps, travel alerts, and news. When things return to normal (virus is gone), escape the crowds of Kyoto and visit neighboring Shiga. Explore and experience rural Japan without going far. 日本語

Shiga Travel Alerts - Updated: May 28, 2020

  • State of emergency in all of Japan was lifted on May 25. Public facilities such as museums and public libraries started reopening on May 11. Karaoke parlors, fitness gyms, sports facilities, pachinko parlors, and other leisure/amusement facilities will be allowed to reopen with anti-infection measures in place. Restaurants can also operate at normal hours. Large events and traveling to and out of Shiga will continue to be discouraged. Masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc., will still be required. Take care and good luck to you.
    COVID-19 status in Shiga

  • Avoid hiking in the mountains unless you have a guide or know the trails well. Since April, 10 hikers went missing and at least four have died in Shiga. Apparently, there is a lack of hiking information and directions on the mountains.

  • Shiga Consultation Center for Foreigners (Weekdays, 10 am–5 pm) call: 077-523-5646 or email:
    For more coronavirus health information and telephone hotline in Shiga, click here.


    Most events, festivals, and fireworks this spring and summer in Shiga have been canceled.

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*Background photo: Lake Biwa as seen from Mt. Shizugatake in Nagahama.

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 Cities & Towns (滋賀の全市町)

*Background photo: Traditional townscape in Omi-Hachiman.

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.

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.