Great day-trip Ideas from Osaka! 6 Must-See Spots in Shiga

Great day-trip Ideas from Osaka! 6 Must-See Spots in Shiga

24 Jan 2020


Shiga is a prefecture filled with historic cultural sites, as well as Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa. It's very accessible, too, as its capital and largest city, Otsu, is only 10 minutes by train from Kyoto and 40 minutes from Osaka. Here's a list of must-see spots in the prefecture!

1. Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple

Enryaku-ji is a site of great importance to Japanese Buddhism, with 1200 years of history, and is a designated World Heritage site. The roughly 100 temples that have been built on the Hieizan (Mt. Hiei) are collectively known as "Enryaku-ji". The area encompasses 1700 hectares and is broadly divided into three areas: the Western Pagoda, Eastern Pagoda, and Yokawa. It's so large, it takes more than a day to explore it in its entirety. It also provides an excellent view of Lake Biwa! The Eastern Pagoda is a 45-minute ride by train and cable car from Shiga's major station, Biwako Hama-otsu.

【Facility name】 Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple
【Opening hours】
Eastern Pagoda
March - November: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
December: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
January - February: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Western Pagoda and Yokawa
March - November: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
December: 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
January - February: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm

※Temples might close earlier during the winter

【Days Closed】 None (access to temples may be restricted for events and services)
【Price】 Entrance fee for the Kokuhoden (National Treasure Museum) and all other facilities: 1200 JPY for adults, 800 JPY for middle and high school students
【URL】 Official website
【Address】 420 Sakamoto-honmachi, Otsu-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

2. Hikone Castle

National landmark Hikone Castle was established about 400 years ago, and numerous parts of it still retain their original shape, including the castle tower. Enjoy the excellent views from the castle tower, or try the pleasure boat along the moat for some exploring from the water. The city's mascot, a white cat named Hikonyan, is adorable, so make sure to get some souvenirs! The castle is 20 minutes by train and then on foot from Maibara Station, which is accessible by bullet train and by special-express services.

【Facility name】 Hikone Castle
【Opening hours】 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Entrance for Hikone Castle, Genkyu-en Garden, and Museum: 1200 JPY for adults, 350 JPY for elementary and middle school students
【URL】 Hikone Tourism Association/Hikone City Planning Dept.
【Address】 1-1 Konki-cho, Hikone-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

3. Koka Ninja Village

This is a popular spot in Koka, known as the hometown of the ninja. You can visit houses feature hidden pathways, where ninjas' descendents used to live, a dojo where you can experience throwing stars, among other locations! You can rent out ninja gear to wear as well. Koka is a 40-minute ride by train from Kusatsu Station, which easily accessible from Osaka and Kyoto.

【Facility name】 Koka Ninja Village
【Opening hours】
Depends on the day
10:00 am - 4:00 pm or
9:00 am - 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm)

【Days Closed】 Irregular
【Price】 Entry fee for the Karakuri-yashiki ("house of tricks") and the museum: 1,100 JPY for adults (18 and over), 900 JPY for ages 12-17, 800 JPY for ages 6-11, 600 JPY for ages 3-5, free up to age 2
【URL】 Official website (Japanese only)
【Address】 394, Kokacho-oki, Koka-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

4. Koka Ninja House

The Ninja House (Koka-ryu Ninjutsu Yashiki) is a former ninja residence that is now open to the public. You can experience in real life the various contraptions the ninja set up to defend the building, including false ceilings and hidden pits, while learning about the history of the ninja. The Ninja House is a five-minute taxi ride from JR Kusatsu Station.

【Facility name】 Koka Ninja House
【Opening hours】 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (last entry 4:30 pm)
【Days Closed】 December 27th - January 2nd, no other closures
※During the winter, there may be temporary closures
【Price】 Entrance fee: 600 JPY for adults (middle school and above); 400 JPY for children (age 3 and above)
【URL】 Official website
【Address】 2331 Konancho-ryuboshi, Koka-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

5. Omi-jingu

The Omi Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Tenji (626-671), known for introducing clocks to Japan. The shrine premises are dotted with water clocks and sundials, and there's a museum of clocks as well. Because a poem from Emperor Tenji is on the cover of the "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu," a well-known poetry-themed karuta (card) game, this shrine is known as a "holy site of karuta." Parts of the popular anime Chihayafuru have also been set here, so fans of the show flock here. The shrine is 15 minutes from Kyoto by train and taxi.

【Facility name】 Omi-jingu
【Opening hours】 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Entry to the Shrine and Clock Museum: 300 JPY for adults, 150 JPY for elementary- and middle-school children
【URL】 Official website)
【Address】 1-1 Jingu-cho, Otsu-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

6. Azuchi Castle Ruins

Oda Nobunaga, the famous warrior who sought to unify Japan under his rule, constructed Azuchi Castle in this location in 1576. The stone walls and foundations the remain today allow to imagine the scale of the original building. It's at 200 meters above sea level, providing an excellent view of the area, and it's also well known for its cherry blossoms and fall foliage. It's 40 minutes from JR Otsu Station by train and taxi.

【Facility name】 Azuchi Castle Ruins
【Opening hours】 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (last entry 4:00 pm) ※May change depending on the season
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Admission: 700 JPY for adults, 200 JPY for children (up to high school)
【URL】 Official website (Japanese only)
【Address】 6371, Azuchicho-shimotoira, Omihachiman-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 Google Map

Of course, Shiga has many other fun locations beyond what we've introduced here. Make sure to pay a visit!

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