Top choice in Kansai

Completed in 1622, this diminutive castle of the Ii family of daimyō (domain lords) is rightly considered a National Treasure; much of it remains in its original state. Two unusual features are the teppōzama and yazama, outlets for shooting guns and arrows, designed to be invisible from the outside until they're popped out for use. Upper storeys have great views across Biwa-ko.

The castle is a 10-minute walk up the street from the station (take a left before the shrine, then a quick right, or walk through the shrine grounds).

From the castle grounds you can continue directly to the garden Genkyū-en. The path is tricky to find; look for signs in Japanese or ask for directions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kansai attractions

1. Genkyū-en

0.18 MILES

This landscaped garden, inspired by an ancient Chinese garden and criss-crossed by waterways and wooden bridges, was created in the 17th century by the…

2. Nagahama Hikiyama Museum

7.29 MILES

Two of the hikiyama (festival floats) used during Nagahama's famous Hikiyama Matsuri are on display here, along with video footage of the festival.

3. Kurokabe Square

7.32 MILES

Kurokabe means 'black walls' and many of the stucco shopfronts in this historic district are charcoal grey. The shops themselves sell craft and takeaway…

4. Giant Kaleidoscope

7.35 MILES

At this very retro attraction, stand underneath the tower, hand-crank the wheel and watch what happens above.

5. Daitsū-ji

7.43 MILES

Temples are great repositories of artwork, though most only allow visitors in a few times a year (if at all) to see them. This isn't the case at Daitsū-ji…

6. Miho Museum

24.16 MILES

Secluded amid hills and valleys near the village of Shigaraki, this knockout museum houses the Koyama family collection of Japanese, Middle Eastern,…

7. Enryaku-ji

24.61 MILES

Located atop 848m-high Hiei-zan (the mountain that dominates the skyline in the northeast of the city), the Enryaku-ji complex is an entire world of…

8. Shōrin-in

25.92 MILES

This temple near Sanzen-in is worth a look, even if only through its admission gate, to admire the thatched roof of the main hall. It’s a good option if…