Top things to do

Top Choice Castle in Hikone

Hikone Castle

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. One unusual feature: teppōzama and yazama, out…
Top Choice Museum 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 exh…
Top Choice Area in Nagahama

Kurokabe Square

Kurokabe means 'black walls', and you'll find plenty of them in this photogenic historic district (it's not really a square). Many of the old machiya (townhouses) and kura (storehouses) are now antique shops and gal…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nagahama


Just northeast of Kurokabe Square, this Jōdō-sect temple rivals Kyoto's finest with its collection of dozens of historic fusuma (sliding door) and byōbu (folding screen) paintings of landscapes and wildlife on gold …
Top Choice Noodles in Nagahama


With its tatami room and garden, this intimate, 200-plus-year-old restaurant positively oozes 'old Japan' charm. The signature dish is yakisaba-sōmen (grilled mackerel over thin noodles, ¥900) - also available in a …
Buddhist Temple in Ōtsu

Mii-dera Temple

Just past its 1200th anniversary (in 2014), these rambling, deeply wooded precincts at the edge of central Ōtsu are the head temple of the Jimon branch of Tendai Buddhism. Four of its buildings are national treasure…
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.
Gardens in Hikone


This exquisite, Chinese-influenced garden from 1679 is crisscrossed by waterways and wooden bridges. Tree-topped islands, peninsulas and interestingly-shaped rocks punctuate its pond. For ¥500 you get a cup of match…
Buddhist Temple in Shiga Prefecture


This Shingon-sect temple was founded in the 8th century. Climb the many steps past a garden of massive boulders to the hondō (main hall), famed as the place where Lady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji. Continue expl…
Noodles in Hikone


Our favourite spot in Yumekyō-bashi Castle Rd, this darkwood- and plaster-walled little soba place serves specialities like nishin-soba (soba with herring; ¥920) and dishes made with local Ōmi beef. From the castle …