Shiga Travel Guide

Dominated by Japan’s largest lake, this prefecture offers a wealth of culture around its shores, as well as some of the best freshwater fish in the country.

Shiga Featured Food Experiences

Shiga Featured Restaurants



Lunch: ¥5,000-5,999
Dinner: ¥15,000-19,999



Tsuru Kikyo

Lunch: ¥5,000-5,999
Dinner: ¥8,000-9,999

Jidoriya Onza

Dinner: ¥6,000-7,999

Located just a short trip from the popular tourist city of Kyoto, Shiga Prefecture is a unique part of Japan which offers something incredible in every season – be it skiing at Biwako Valley Resort in winter, cherry blossom viewing in spring, witnessing bizarre fire festivals in summer, or viewing gorgeous foliage in autumn.

The enormous freshwater lake which dominates this prefecture – Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest – makes the region an ideal place for nature lovers, and the wealth of historic sites which surround it offer plenty for fans of culture and tradition.

Among the best is the floating torii gate of Shirahige Shrine on the west bank, the national treasure Hikone Castle on the east, and 1260-year-old Ishayama Dera Temple on the south. A circuit around the vibrant towns and cities on the perimeter of this formidable body of water is a crash course in all things Japanese.

And while you’ll be well familiar with Japanese seafood, you might be surprised to discover a wealth of new dishes based on the freshwater catches which abound in this region. You’ll even get the chance to try Japanese sushi in its most original (and pungent) form: funazushi.

Shiga has more to offer than just the lake, however. Head into the mountains and you’ll find charming traditional inns, world-class art museums, and two temples once occupied by warring sects of Buddhist monks — Miidera and Enryakuji.

Excellent transport links mean that the majority of Shiga is easily accessible from the popular tourist destinations of Kyoto and Osaka. Here’s our pick of the best sights to help you get the most out of your time in this incredible corner of Japan.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to eat in Shiga?

You can’t leave Shiga without trying funazushi: one of the original styles of Japanese sushi. This fermented carp concoction has much more in common with Scandinavian fish dishes than modern sushi, and it harks back to the dish’s original function as a way for fishermen to preserve their catches.

What are the best things to do in Shiga?

Touring the many cultural sites around the perimeter of Lake Biwa can fill a whole week, but why not head onto the lake itself? There are many islands to explore in the giant lake, with temples, shrines, and Okishima — named the Town of Cats for its huge population of semi-feral felines!

Where to catch a boat on Lake Biwa?

If you want to go explore the waters, then the best access point is the port at the southern city of Otsu. Here you can catch a ferry, or hop on the Michigan Cruise paddle boat for a sightseeing cruise featuring food, drink, and shows.

What is Shiga famous for?

Shiga’s festivals are famed for their wildness. In mid March, the quaint canal town of Omihachiman is beset by a wild display of dragons, fire, and dance. The paper floats used are burned in a bonfire at the end, while locals dance over the flames! In August, the lake also hosts one of the most spectacular firework displays in Japan.

What to buy in Shiga?

Seamstresses and designers will want to pay a visit to the textile shops to pick up some omi jofu: a kind summer hemp textile which features classic Japanese patterns.
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