Top ChoiceMuseum in Shiga Prefecture

Miho Museum

Secluded amid hills and valleys near the village of Shigaraki, this knockout museum houses the Koyama family collection of Japanese, Middle Eastern, Chinese and South Asian art, and beautifully displayed special...

Top ChoiceCastle in Hikone


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...

Buddhist Temple in Ōtsu


Established in 672, over a century before the founding of Kyoto, Mii-dera gets its name for its three springs ('mi' means 'three' and 'i' means 'spring'). The highlight is the Hondō (main hall), last rebuilt in...

Buddhist Temple in Ōtsu


This Shingon-sect temple, founded in the 8th century, has a lot going for it, including Japan's oldest pagoda (the Tahōtō, built in 1194) and an impressive location atop a stone outcrop, but it's most famous for...

Buddhist Temple in Nagahama


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, where you're free to wander the worn tatami (tightly...

Parade in Nagahama

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

Nagahama's famous festival lasts a week, but the highlight takes place on 15 April, when costumed five- to 13-year-old children perform kabuki (a form of stylised Japanese theatre) aboard a dozen elaborately...

Sweets in Ōtsu

Chikara Mochi

Chikara Mochi has been making its signature pillow-soft mochi (pounded-rice cakes), generously dusted with a mix of kinako (roasted soy-bean flour) and matcha (powdered green tea), for over 200 years. The stall,...

Fireworks in Ōtsu

Biwa-ko Dai-Hanabi Taikai

This display of 10,000 fireworks over Biwa-ko is a major summer event, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors. You can get good views from the waterfront near Keihan Hama-Ōtsu Station, but you'll have to get...

Noodles in Nagahama


The signature dish here is local speciality yakisaba-sōmen (grilled mackerel over thin wheat noodles). The restaurant is inside a 150-year-old wooden building, with seating on tatami mats (the best ones face an...

Area in Nagahama

Kurokabe Square

Kurokabe means 'black walls' and many of the stucco shopfronts in this historic district are charcoal grey. The shops themselves sell craft and takeaway items (like croquettes stuffed with Omi-gyū, the local...

Gardens in Hikone


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 fourth lord of Hikone-jō. The central pond is fed by...

Museum in Nagahama

Nagahama Hikiyama Museum

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

Soba in Hikone


This soba restaurant is the top pick along Yumekyō-bashi Castle Rd. Try the nishin-soba (soba with herring), a local speciality. From the castle end of the street it's about 100m along on the left – look for the...

Cultural in Ōtsu

Ōtsu Matsuri

At Tenson-jinja, near JR Ōtsu Station, ornate floats are displayed on the first day and paraded around the town on the second day.

Landmark in Nagahama

Giant Kaleidoscope

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