Introduction to Shiga

Shiga Prefecture is located at the midmost point of Japan’s main island and contains its largest freshwater lake, Lake Biwa or Biwako, at the center of the prefecture. The surface area of Biwako takes up nearly one sixth of Shiga’s total area. The natural environment, culture, history, livelihood and industry of the Prefecture are all inherently influenced by this lake, giving the area a local charm which has helped produce many local sightseeing destinations.
General Info Area:4,017.36km²
Population:1,412,956 (as of October 1, 2017)
Foreign Population:26,533 (as of late December of 2017)
Prefectural Flower, Tree & Bird:Rhododendron (flower) / Japanese Maple (tree) / Little Grebe (Bird)
Annual Avg. Temperature:15.1°C / High in 35.7°C and Low in -2.7°C (Otsu, 2017)
Annual Avg. Precipitation:1581 mm(Otsu, 2017)
Annual Sunshine in Hours:1903.7 hrs.(Otsu, 2017)

Lake Biwa Facts
Surface Area:670.25 km²
Shore Length:Approx. 235 km
Avg. Depth of Southern Area:Approx. 4 m
Avg. Depth of Northern Area:Approx. 43 m
Max. Depth:103.58 m
Ratio of Natural Park Area37.3 % / 1st Place (2016) Ratio of Natural Park Area Avg. Male Life Expectancy81.78 year-old / 1st Place (2015) Avg. Male Life Expectancy Household Fiber-Optic Network Penetration Rate66.2 % / 1st Place (2017) Household Fiber-Optic Network Penetration Rate Ownership Ratio of Smartphones66.2 % / 1st Place (2014) Ownership Ratio of Smartphones Ratio of Manufacturing Industry to All Business35.4 % / 1st Place (2014) Ratio of Manufacturing Industry to All Business Number of Beef Cattle per Cattle Farms205.6 cows / 1st Place (2017) Number of Beef Cattle per Cattle Farms
Nature and Leisure
The beautiful scenery of Lake Biwa interwoven with Shiga’s surrounding mountains is the defining feature for which the area is best known. Beautiful scenes of Shiga have long been depicted in art as The Eight Views of Omi, first appearing around 500 years ago, also known later as The Eight Views of Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa is also known as a popular place to enjoy beautiful sunset and frequent rainbow sightings. Recently the Biwaichi cycling course, which circles all the way around Lake Biwa, is also attracting visitors.

The Eight Views of Lake Biwa / The Eight Views of Omi

The Eight Views of Lake Biwa / The Eight Views of Omi Reference Sites: (The Eight Views of Lake Biwa / The Eight Views of Omi)

Mt. Ibuki

Mt. Ibuki Reference Sites:

Dawn Redwood Avenue

Dawn Redwood Avenue Reference Sites:

Cherry Blossom Viewing at Kaizu-Osaki Peninsula

Cherry Blossom Viewing at Kaizu-Osaki Peninsula Reference Sites:

Sunset at Lake Biwa

Sunset at Lake Biwa

Biwako Valley

Biwako Valley Reference Sites: (Biwako Valley)


Biwaichi Reference Sites: Close

Omi Beef

Omi Beef With 400 years of history, Omi Beef is often cited as one of the top three brands of wagyu.
Its outstanding reputation is known not just in Japan, but also abroad in foreign countries.
Reference Sites:

Biwako-Hatchin (The Eight Delicacies of Lake Biwa)

Biwako-Hatchin (The Eight Delicacies of Lake Biwa) The native freshwater fish unique to Lake Biwa are known as Biwako-Hatchin.
Shiga’s local people have passed down the custom of eating these delicacies in traditional dishes such as funazushi (fermented crucian carp sushi), a type of nare-zushi (fermented sushi), tsukudani (food boiled in soy sauce), and amenouo gohan (boiled rice seasoned with soy sauce and a type of native local trout called Biwa Trout).
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Omi-mai Rice

Omi-mai Rice Rice: the staple of the Japanese diet.
Rice grown in Shiga Prefecture is called Omi-mai Rice. Within this category, a specific cultivar, Mizukagami, received the highest ranking “A-Grade” at the rice eating quality test held by the Japan Grain Inspection Association for three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017.
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Omi-cha Tea

Omi-cha Tea Shiga is said to be the origin of Japanese tea, which dates back over 1200 years to 805 AD when tea seeds were first brought back from China’s Tang Dynasty by Saicho, the famous monk who founded the Tendai sect of Buddhism and also built its headquarters, Hieizan Enryakuji Temple (a World Heritage).
Saicho planted these seeds around the area of Shiga now called Sakamoto, Otsu City.
The major brands of Omi Tea are Tsuchiyama Tea (Tsuchiyamacho, Koka City), Asamiya Tea (Asamiya Shigarakicho, Koka City) and Mandokoro Tea (Mandokoro, Higashiomi City).
Reference Sites: Close
Culture, History & Art
Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, Shiga’s one and only World Heritage site, is located near the border between Shiga and Kyoto.
In the distant past Shiga, or Omi Province, thrived as a transportation hub. There was once a famous saying, “those who command Omi would reign over all Japan,” which demonstrates Shiga’s important place in Japanese history.
A number of historical and cultural heritage properties are still preserved, for example, there are fifty-five national treasures (the 5th highest number of treasures) such as Hikone Castle.
In recent years, there have also been newly established museums, one world-renowned for its location, architecture, and collections, as well as one of the most comprehensive freshwater fish museums.
Reference Sites:

Hieizan Enryakuji Temple

Hieizan Enryakuji Temple Reference Sites:

Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle Reference Sites:

Hachiman-bori Canal

Hachiman-bori Canal Reference Sites:

Shirahige-jinja Shrine

Shirahige-jinja Shrine Reference Sites: (Shirahige-jinja Shrine)

MIHO Museum

MIHO Museum Reference Sites: (MIHO Museum)

Lake Biwa Museum

Lake Biwa Museum Reference Sites: (Lake Biwa Museum) Close