Shiga prefecture is located in the northeastern part of Kinki region, and its capital is Otsu city. Shiga is known for Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The water of Lake Biwa is a source of drinking water for people in nearby prefectures and is also used as industrial water. Lake Biwa is also a large destination for sightseeing. Shiga prefect
ure is the only inland prefecture with fishing ports, and there are nearly 20 fishing ports in the prefecture. These ports are part of Lake Biwa, and port towns such as Otsu and Katata developed as a stopover port between Wakasa Bay and the Kyoto-Osaka area. Shiga is also where the old Tokaido, Nakasendo, and Hokurikudo highways merge together, and as people once said “One who conquers Omi will conquer Japan.” This area was the location for several battles over the course of Japanese history. Approximately 1,000 types of animals and plants are found in Lake Biwa including endemic species. Freshwater cuisine of moroko, isaza, and sweetfish are considered specialty dishes of Lake Biwa. There are also many scenic areas along Lake Biwa such as Kaizu Osaki, Ukimido, and Chinaihama. Rice farming is flourishing in Shiga prefecture, and high quality rice called omimai is grown here. Shiga is also the birthplace of Japanese green tea. "The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto: Enryaku-ji Temple in Mt. Hiei" are designated as a world cultural heritage and extend through Shiga and Kyoto prefectures. Over 100 historical architectural buildings remain on the site. The city of Koga to the south of the lake is known as the home of the ninja along with the city of Iga in Mie prefecture. Shigaraki that is known for shigaraki ware, as represented by figures of Tanuki, is part of Koga. In addition, hot springs such as Ishiyama hot springs associated with Lady Murasaki and Nagahama Taiko hot springs associated with Toyotomi Hideyoshi are popular. As for local specialty food, Shiga is known for its funasushi (crucian carp sushi), a type of freshwater cuisine that features a distinct smell. It is generally thought that this dish was invented to preserve freshwater fish by fermenting it with salt and rice.
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