Shiga prefecture is known for Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan.
Mountain ranges expand around the lake with ski slopes at the top. Skiers and snow boarders come here from the Kansai or Chubu regions. The ski slopes in the city of Otsu are close to the urban area that can be accessed in only 40 minutes by car from Kyoto. Skiers can go up to the mountain top in gondola and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Biwa.
Although there is no snow in the roads and parking lots at the foot of the mountains, there is ample snow at the mountain top, and visitors can enjoy dynamic skiing while viewing the lake. The ski slopes in the mountainous Kohoku area between Otsu and the lake features rich powder snow. Here skiers can enjoy powder run with non-compressed snow.
Many sightseeing boats are operated in Lake Biwa including bustling cruising boats with buffet and shows as well as boats that offer relaxing one-day cruising courses. Local specialty, “funazushi” made by stuffing rice in salted crucian carp and letting it ferment is a traditional delicacy with unique flavor and sour taste. Other types of freshwater fish from Lake Biwa such as sweet fish, willow shiners, and pond smelt are cooked with soy sauce and sold as local specialties. Omi beef steak, shabu shabu, and sukiyaki are also famous although they are somewhat expensive.
Shiga prefecture is full of historical episodes, and in the city of Hikone, there is the national treasure Hikone castle. The castle is 400 years old, and feudal clan of Ii that was powerful during the Edo period resided here. Nagahama where Hideyoshi Toyotomi built his castle flourished as a castle town and post-station town. It is a nostalgic town where architecture from the Meiji period and historical sites related to the war generals of the Warring States period still remain.
In the city of Otsu, Enryaku-ji temple has its monastery on Mt. Hiei near the border of Kyoto. It is the head temple of Tendai sect, and the entire mountain is the sacred site of Japanese Buddhism. It is particularly known for the Siege of Mt. Hiei by Nobunaga Oda. It is a world famous tourist spot that is registered as a World Cultural Heritage and can be reached by the longest cable car in Japan from Otsu. Otsu is also home to Shigaraki pottery known for the figures of tanuki. Since Shiga prefecture can be accessed from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara by driving 1–2 hours, visitors may use one of these cities as a base for sightseeing in Shiga.