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Shiga Prefecture

shiga prefecture, shiga prefecture tourist attractions
Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県, Shiga-ken is a prefecture of Japan, which forms part of the Kansai region in the western part of Honshu island1 It encircles Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan The capital is Ōtsu2


  • 1 History
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 Municipalities
    • 31 Cities
    • 32 Towns
    • 33 Mergers
  • 4 Politics
  • 5 Economy
  • 6 Demographics
  • 7 Culture
    • 71 Cuisine
    • 72 Mass media
    • 73 Education
    • 74 Sports
  • 8 Tourism
  • 9 Transportation
    • 91 Railways
    • 92 Roads
    • 93 Boats
  • 10 Notable people from Shiga Prefecture
  • 11 Sister states
  • 12 Notes
  • 13 References
  • 14 External links


See also: Historic Sites of Shiga Prefecture

Shiga was known as Ōmi Province or Gōshū before the prefectural system was established3 Omi was a neighbor of Nara and Kyoto, at the junction of western and eastern Japan During the period 667 to 672, Emperor Tenji founded a palace in Otsu In 742, Emperor Shōmu founded a palace in Shigaraki In the early Heian Period, Saichō was born in the north of Otsu and founded Enryaku-ji, the center of Tendai and one a UNESCO World Heritage Site and monument of Ancient Kyoto now

In the Medieval Period, the Sasaki clan ruled Omi, and afterward the Rokkaku clan, Kyōgoku clan and Azai clans ruled Omi In the 1570s, Oda Nobunaga subjugated Omi and built Azuchi Castle on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa in 1579 Tōdō Takatora, Gamō Ujisato, Oichi, Yodo-dono, Ohatsu and Oeyo were Omi notables in the Sengoku Period In those times, Ninja were active in Kōka See also Kōga-ryū

In 1600, Ishida Mitsunari, born in the east of Nagahama and based in Sawayama Castle, made war against Tokugawa Ieyasu in Sekigahara, Gifu After the battle, Ieyasu made Ii Naomasa a new lord of Sawayama Naomasa established the Hikone Domain, later famous for Ii Naosuke Ii Naosuke became the Tokugawa shogunate's Tairō and concluded commercial treaties with the Western powers and thus ended Japan's isolation from the world in the 19th century Besides the Hikone Domain, many domains ruled Omi such as Zeze With the abolition of the han system, eight prefectures were formed in Omi They were unified into Shiga Prefecture in September 1872 "Shiga Prefecture" was named after "Shiga District" because Otsu belonged to the district until 1898 From August 1876 to February 1881, southern Fukui Prefecture had been incorporated into Shiga Prefecture

In 2015, Shiga Governor Taizō Mikazuki conducted a survey asking citizens whether they felt it necessary to change the name of the prefecture, partly to raise its profile as a destination for domestic tourism4


Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture viewed from space

Shiga borders Fukui Prefecture in the north, Gifu Prefecture in the east, Mie Prefecture in the southeast, and Kyoto Prefecture in the west

Lake Biwa, Japan's largest, is located at the center of this prefecture It occupies one-sixth of its area The Seta River flows from Lake Biwa to Osaka Bay through Kyoto This is the only natural river that flows out from the lake Most other natural rivers flow into the lake There were many lagoons around Lake Biwa, but most of them were reclaimed in 1940s One of the preserved lagoons is the wetland 水郷, suigō in Omihachiman, and it was selected as the first Important Cultural Landscapes in 2006

The lake divides the prefecture into four different areas: Kohoku 湖北, north of lake centered Nagahama, Kosei 湖西, west of lake centered Imazu, Kotō 湖東, east of lake centered Hikone and Konan 湖南, south of lake centered Otsu

Plains stretch to the eastern shore of Lake Biwa The prefecture is enclosed by mountain ranges with the Hira Mountains and Mount Hiei in the west, the Ibuki Mountains in the northeast, and the Suzuka Mountains in the southeast Mount Ibuki is the highest mountain in Shiga In Yogo, a small lake is famous for the legend of the heavenly robe of an angel 天女の羽衣, tennyo no hagoromo, which is similar to a western Swan maiden5

Shiga's climate sharply varies between north and south Southern Shiga is usually warm, but northern Shiga is typically cold with high snowfall and hosts many skiing grounds In Nakanokawachi, the northernmost village of Shiga, snow reached a depth of 56 metres 18 ft in 19366

As of 1 April 2014, 37% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks the highest total of any prefecture, namely the Biwako and Suzuka Quasi-National Parks; and Kotō, Kutsuki-Katsuragawa, and Mikami-Tanakami-Shigaraki Prefectural Natural Parks7



Map of Shiga Prefecture Hikone Nagahama

Thirteen cities are located in Shiga Prefecture:


These are the towns in each district:


Main article: List of mergers in Shiga Prefecture


The prefectural government building in Ōtsu City

The current governor of Shiga is Taizō Mikazuki, a former member of the House of Representatives from Shiga DPJ, 3rd district, who was elected in July 2014 to succeed governor Yukiko Kada8

The prefectural assembly has 47 members from 16 electoral districts, and is still elected in unified local elections last round: 2011 As of July 2014, the assembly was composed as follows: LDP 21 members, DPJ/kenmin network 12, Taiwa no kai/Shiga net 5, LDP sasshin no kai 5, Kōmeitō 2, Your Party 1, independent 19

In the National Diet, Shiga is represented by four directly elected members of the House of Representatives and two one per ordinary election of the House of Councillors For the proportional representation segment of the lower house, the prefecture forms part of the Kinki block After the most recent national elections of 2010, 2012 and 2013, the directly elected delegation to the Diet from Shiga consists of:

  • in the House of Representatives
    • for the 1st district in the west: Toshitaka Ōoka, LDP, 1st term,
    • for the 2nd district in the northeast: Ken'ichirō Ueno, LDP, 2nd term,
    • for the 3rd district on the southern shores of Lake Biwa: Nobuhide Takemura, LDP, 1st term,
    • for the 4th district in the southeast: Takaya Mutō, LDP, 1st term,
  • in the House of Councillors Shiga At-large district
    • in the class of 2010 term ends 2016: Kumiko Hayashi, DPJ, 2nd term,
    • in the class of 2013 term ends 2019: Takeshi Ninoyu, LDP, 1st term


Merchant mansions in Omihachiman

Cultivated areas occupy nearly one-sixth of the prefecture Rice is the principal crop: over 90 percent of the farmlands are rice fields Most farms are small, producing only a slight income Most farmers depend on income from other sources Eastern Shiga is famous for cattle breeding and southeastern Shiga is famous for green tea On Lake Biwa, some people are engaged in fishery and freshwater pearl farming

Since the Medieval Period, especially in Edo period, many Shiga people were active in commerce and were called Ōmi merchants 近江商人, Ōmi shōnin, Ōmi akindo, sometimes Ōmi thieves 近江泥棒, Ōmi dorobō by other envious merchants For example, Nippon Life, Itochu, Marubeni, Takashimaya, Wacoal and Yanmar were founded by people from Shiga In their home towns such as Omihachiman, Hino, Gokashō and Toyosato, their mansions were preserved as tourist attractions

Beginning in the 1960s, Shiga developed industry, supporting major factories owned by companies such as IBM Japan, Canon, Yanmar Diesel, Mitsubishi, and Toray According to Cabinet Office's statistics in 2007, the secondary sector of the economy accounted for 448% of Gross Shiga Product, the highest proportion in Japan10 Traditional industries include textiles, Shigaraki ware, Butsudan in Hikone and Nagahama, medicines in Koka, and fan ribs in Adogawa


Year Pop ±%
1920 651,050 —    
1930 691,631 +62%
1940 703,679 +17%
1950 861,180 +224%
1960 842,695 −21%
1970 889,768 +56%
1980 1,079,898 +214%
1990 1,222,411 +132%
2000 1,342,832 +99%
2010 1,410,777 +51%
2015 1,413,184 +02%
Source: 1

The population is concentrated along the southern shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu city adjacent to Kyoto and along the lake's eastern shore in cities such as Kusatsu and Moriyama, which are within commuting distance to Kyoto The lake's western and northern shores are more rural and resort-oriented with white sand beaches In recent years, many Brazilians settled in Shiga to work in nearby factories 26,471 foreigners live in Shiga and 36% of foreigners were Brazilians as of December 201011


Sagawa Art Museum Aquarium of Lake Biwa Museum

Biwa Town now a part of Nagahama is a home of The Tonda Traditional Bunraku Puppet Troupe Founded in the 1830s, the group is one of the most active traditional Bunraku puppet theaters in Japan outside the National Theater in Osaka Toyosato and Higashiomi are known to a mecca of Goshu ondo

Museums include the Sagawa Art Museum in Moriyama, the Lake Biwa Museum in Kusatsu and the Miho Museum in Kōka In Kōka, a ninja house is preserved as a visitor center12


Since ancient times, Shigans have eaten fish from Lake Biwa The most famous lake-food is fermented sushi of crucian carp 鮒寿司, funa-zushi It retains the ancient style of sushi and has a pungent odor Shiga is also famous for high quality wagyū, Omi beef The Hikone Domain presented beef as medicinal food to shoguns13 In addition, tsukemono of root crops, mallard nabe or mallard sukiyaki 鴨鍋 or 鴨すき, kamo-nabe or kamo-suki in northern Shiga, red colored konjac 赤こんにゃく, aka konnyaku in Omihachiman, sōmen with grilled mackerel 焼鯖素麺, yaki-saba sōmen in Nagahama, and lightly seasoned champon in Hikone are examples of specific cuisine in Shiga

Mass mediaedit

Biwako Broadcasting broadcasts local TV programs NHK has a broadcasting station in Otsu Shiga is the only prefecture which has no regional newspapers Kyoto Shimbun is a de facto regional newspaper of Shiga


University of Shiga Prefecture

Ten universities, two junior colleges, and a learning center of The Open University of Japan operate in Shiga14

  • Shiga University Hikone and Otsu
  • Shiga University of Medical Science Otsu
  • University of Shiga Prefecture Hikone
  • Seian University of Art and Design Otsu
  • Seisen University Hikone
  • Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology Nagahama
  • Biwako-Gakuin University Higashiomi
  • Biwako Seikei Sport College Otsu
  • Ritsumeikan University Kyoto and Kusatsu
  • Ryukoku University Kyoto and Otsu
  • Shiga Junior College Otsu
  • Shiga Bunkyo Junior College Nagahama


The following sports teams are based in Shiga

  • Basketball: Shiga LakeStars
  • Volleyball: Toray Arrows women's volleyball team Otsu
  • Football soccer: MIO Biwako Kusatsu Kusatsu, Sagawa Shiga FC Moriyama


Ukimidō hall at Mangetsu-ji temple near Katata, Otsu From Otsu port, the Michigan paddlewheel boat offers cruises on Lake Biwa Hikone Castle

Shiga has many tourism resources, but Shiga is overshadowed by its much more famous neighbor Kyoto Over four million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2000, but only sixty-five thousand visited Shiga15

The main gateways to Shiga are the Maibara Station in northern Shiga and the city of Otsu in the south The Maibara Station is about 2 hours and 20 minutes away from the Tokyo Station by the Tokaido Shinkansen It is easy to go to Otsu from Kyoto and Osaka by high-speed trains

Shiga's most prominent feature is Lake Biwa The northern shore is especially scenic, such as the cherry blossoms of Kaizu Osaki in spring and the sacred island Chikubu-shima The western shore has white sand beaches, popular among Kyotoites during the summer The scenery of the southern shore, particularly around Otsu, was selected as Ōmi Hakkei or Eight Views of Ōmi, popularized by Hiroshige's ukiyo-e Most of the original eight views are now almost gone or changed from centuries ago One remaining view is the Ukimidō "floating temple" building at Mangetsu-ji temple in Katata, northern Otsu It was reconstructed with concrete in 1937, but a small temple still stands on the lake near the shore, accessible by a short bridge Another scene features Ishiyama-dera temple in southern Otsu, which is also renowned for having a room where Lady Murasaki thought up the plan for some chapters of Tale of Genji

The many mountains around the lake offer beautiful views Mount Hira is a popular picnic spot Mountain roads like the Oku-Biwako Parkway road up north and the Hiei-zan Driveway and Oku-Hiei Driveway overlooking the southwestern shore In Otsu, the Otsu Prince Hotel's Top of Otsu restaurant provides a panoramic view of the lake and city The Michigan paddlewheel boat offers lake cruises

Besides natural beauty, historical buildings and festivals persons rank among those of national importance Shiga has 807 National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, that ranks the fourth large number in Japan10 Shiga's most famous historical building is Hikone Castle, one of four national treasure castles in the country The castle tower is well preserved and has many cherry trees The neighboring city of Nagahama has tourism in addition to its hikiyama festival Notable shrines include Hiyoshi Taisha in Otsu and Taga-taisha in Taga, which respectively head the seventh and twentieth largest shrine networks in Japan, at about 4,000 shrines and 260 shrines, respectively

Unique festivals include the hikiyama festival floats parade festival, held in ten areas such as Nagahama, Otsu, Maibara, Hino and Minakuchi The Nagahama hikiyama festival held each April is one of the three major hikiyama festivals in Japan and was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1979 During this festival ornate floats are mounted with miniature stages on which boys playing both male and female roles act in kabuki plays16 Higashiomi formerly Yōkaichi city holds a Giant Kite Festival every May along the riverbank Ordinary people are invited to pull the rope that sends the kites aloft


JR West "Special Rapid" train on Biwako Line Biwako Ohashi Bridge


  • West Japan Railway Company
    • Tōkaidō Main Line Biwako Line, Hokuriku Main Line, Kusatsu Line and Kosei Line
  • Central Japan Railway Company
    • Tōkaidō Shinkansen Maibara Station and Tōkaidō Main Line
  • Keihan Electric Railway
    • Keishin Line and Ishiyama Sakamoto Line
  • Ohmi Railway
    • Main Line, Yōkaichi Line and Taga Line
  • Shigaraki Kōgen Railway
  • Sakamoto Cable


Meishin Expressway, Shin-Meishin Expressway and Hokuriku Expressway pass through Shiga National highway Route 1, 8, 21, 8, 161, 303, 306, 307, 365, 367, 421, 422 and 477 connect with neighbouring prefectures Two bridges span southern part of Lake Biwa


With development of land transportation in the 20th century, waterborne transportation in Lake Biwa was disused except for steamer services to islands on the lake and pleasure boats

Notable people from Shiga Prefectureedit

See also: Category:People from Shiga Prefecture
  • Sōsuke Uno - The 75th prime minister from Moriyama He was one of the shortest-serving prime ministers in Japan, holding office for only three months June–August 1989
  • Takanori Nishikawa, a singer and actor from Hikone and Yasu He is also active as the first Cultural Ambassador for Shiga
  • Hizaki, a musician and songwriter, known for work as guitarist of Versailles

Sister statesedit

Shiga has cooperative agreements with three states17

  • Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Michigan, USA
  • Hunan, China


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric 2005 "Shiga-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, p 853, p 853, at Google Books; "Kansai" at Japan Encyclopedia, p 477, p 477, at Google Books
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Ōtsu" at Japan Encyclopedia, p 765, p 765, at Google Books
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" at Japan Encyclopedia, p 780, p 780, at Google Books
  4. ^ "Shiga Prefecture mulls name change to draw more visitors" The Japan Times 
  5. ^ Shiga Prefecture 余呉湖・天女の衣掛柳 Lake Yogo - a willow hung a celestial robe in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-13 
  6. ^ Encyclopedia Shiga p436
  7. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" PDF Ministry of the Environment 1 April 2014 Retrieved 3 July 2015 
  8. ^ Shiga prefectural government: Governor's office in Japanese
  9. ^ Prefectural assembly: Members by caucus in Japanese
  10. ^ a b Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県の紹介(滋賀県なんでも一番) Introduction of Shiga prefecture; Best scores of Shiga in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-08 
  11. ^ Shiga Prefecture 外国人登録者数国籍別人員調査結果 平成22年(2010年)12月31日末現在 The investigation of the number of foreign registrations by nationality as of December 31, 2010 in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-13 
  12. ^ Biwako Visitors Bureau "Experiencing Ninjutsu Ninja’s techniques at the ninja’s native place – Koka Ninjutsu Yashiki" Retrieved 2011-05-13 
  13. ^ The promoting council of production and distribution of Omi beef 近江牛の歴史 The history of Omi beef in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-14 
  14. ^ Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県内の大学・短期大学 Universities and junior colleges in Shiga prefecture in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-08 
  15. ^ Shiga Prefecture 湖国観光交流ビジョン 第2章 滋賀県観光の現状と課題 The vision for tourism and exchange of the Lake Country Chapter 2: present situation and problem about the Shiga tourism in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-13 
  16. ^ Biwako Visitors Bureau 滋賀県観光情報:長浜曳山まつり Shiga tourism information : Nagahama hikiyama festival in Japanese Retrieved 2011-05-20 
  17. ^ Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県の紹介(滋賀県の国際交流 姉妹・友好都市) Introduction of Shiga prefecture; International exchanges of Shiga, friendship sister cities in Japanese Retrieved 2010-11-25 


  • Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth 2005 Japan encyclopedia Cambridge: Harvard University Press ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
  • Shiga-ken hyakka jiten Encyclopedia Shiga 滋賀県百科事典, 1984 Tokyo: Yamato Shobo

External linksedit

  • Shiga travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Shiga Prefecture official page
  • gobiwako - Travel Guide of Shiga Prefecture, Japan Biwako Visiters Bureau
  • Shiga Prefecture Guide - GoJapanGo
  • Shiga-kencom

Coordinates: 35°7′N 136°4′E / 35117°N 136067°E / 35117; 136067

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