Next to Kyoto, Shiga is located in the east, and in the center of Shiga is Lake Biwa, the mother lake of Japan, which boasts the largest lake and storage capacity in Japan.
Its history originates from ancient times that go back to prehistoric times.
And the ecosystem is diverse and registered in the Ramsar Convention.
In addition to Mt. Hiei, there are several sightseeing areas around Lake Biwa, including "Kosei area" in the west, "Konan area" in the south, and "Kotou" in the east.
It is a sightseeing spot where you can see the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves of the temples, which is popular among ancient temple fans.
I will guide you around Lake Biwa.
[Kotou area： East of Lake Biwa]
Koto-sanzan (the three temples in the east of Lake Biwa) collectively means three Tendai Sect temples, namely Saimei-ji Temple, Kongorin-ji Temple, and Hyakusai-ji Temple with beautiful fresh green and autumn leaves.
"Saimyo-ji temple" : According to temple legend, it was founded by Sanshu Shonin in the early Heian period.
A legendary pilgrim who is said to be the founder of Mt. Ibuki, a sacred mountain of Shugendo，Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts.
"Kongorin-ji temple" : The peaceful place to relax, off the beaten path. If you want to venture outside the popular tourist spots of Kyoto and get away from the crowds, Kongorin-ji Temple in Shiga Prefecture is a wonderful choice. The Buddhist Temple was built in 741
"Hyakusai-ji temple" : The oldest temple in Omi. It was founded by Prince Shotoku in the year 606, more than 1400 years ago. It was created at the mid-point of Mt. Oshitate (771.8 m) for the sake of visitors from the Korean kingdom of Baekje, and drew inspiration from a temple in that nation that was called Ryu’un-ji in Japanese.
"Eigen-ji temple" : The head temple of the Eigen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen, and is famous as a spot for fall leaves, blistering crimson from trees nurtured by the deep waters of the Echigawa River. It is said that the monks here incorporated the sound of the pure waters flowing in the gorge into their Zen training.
"Hikone Castle" : After a construction period of twenty years, Hikone Castle (Hikonejō) was completed in 1622. The hilltop castle served as the seat of the Ii daimyo (feudal lords) until the end of the feudal age in 1868.
"Taga Taisha Shrine" : Taga Taisha Shrine has long attracted visitors from across Japan, devoted as it is to the god of long life and relationships. Known by the nickname "Otaga-san," the street that runs from the large torii gate by the station all the way to the shrine itself is lined with shops selling gifts and souvenirs.
"Oumihachiman" : In 1585, Hachiman-yama Castle was built on small Mount Hachiman about 100 meters high by Lake Biwa.
The castle was abondoned in 1595, but the castle town was constructed at the southeastern foot of the mountain. It is the origin of current Oumihachiman. The town is about 1 km square, and developed as a commercial city. This town produced excellent merchants, and the had been called "Oumi-merchant".
[Kosei area：West district of Lake Biwa]
"Ukimido" : The "floating temple hall" at Mangetsuji Temple, is famous for being featured in one of the Eight Views of Omi (the former name of Shiga).
"Onjo-ji Temple (Mii-dera) " : As head temple of the Tendaijimon Buddhist sect, has long been considered as one of the Four Great Temples of Japan. Throughout history, the emperors Tenji, Kobun and Tenmu modified its structure and name through various imperial orders. Prince Otomo Yota no O, son of emperor Kobun, first started the building process of this huge and expensive structure, followed by emperor Tenmu who named it Nagarayama Onjo-ji. Its common name “Mii-dera” (“temple of the three wells”) comes from the miraculous spring in which the three emperors Tenji, Tenmu and Jito were given their firth bath (Ubuyu). Later, the great Buddhist teacher Chisho used this spring water to perform the Sanbu Kanjo ritual (Buddhist rite of passage during which the master figuratively “pours” his knowledge onto his student).
・"Shiga-in Temple" : The head priest of the Tendai sect, Gozasho, who is also the chief priest of Enryaku-ji Temple. It is also known as Shigain-monzeki Palace.The garden of Enshu Kobori is magnificent.
・"Saikyo-ji Temple" : The general headquarters of the Tendai Shinsei sect and has 421 branch temples throughout Japan, especiallies Shiga,Mie and Fukui Prefecture. In 1571, general Oda Nobunaga(1534-1582) burned temples out all over Hiei-zan , and this temple also had disappeared. But a temporary hall was rebuilt the following year under the patronage of Akechi Mitsuhide (1526-1582),who later killed Oda Nobunaga.
・"Oumi Jingu Shrine" : It is enshrined in the site of Capital Otsu ”Otsukyo”. Emperor Tenji was the great accomplisher of Taika Reformation and the great establisher in the ancient Japan.
・"Ono-jinja Shrine"：It was founded by the founding priest, ONO no Takamura (802-February 3, 853) who legend says travelled between this world and the underworld and interacted with Enma-o, the King of Hell. He was a bureaucrat, scholar and poet in the early Heian period. Heian period superstar.
[Konan area : South district of Lake Biwa]
・"Ishiyama-dera Temple" : It is known to be featured in numerous literary works. It is considered that the Tale of Genji" written by Murasaki Shikibu conceived the idea of "the Tale of Genji" at Ishiyama-dera Temple.
・"Three historic temples" : It dates back to the Tenpyo era of Nara 729 - 749, when it was first built, and Especially the autumn leaves are a charming sight. The temple is called a mountain. The three temples, "Joraku-ji Temple", "Choju-ji Temple" and "Zensui-ji Temple" are called "sannzann" of Konan area.
・"Lake Biwa Museum" : The Lake Biwa Museum's aquarium is one of the largest freshwater aquarium in Japan. The giant Lake Biwa catfish (Silurus biwaensis) is a popular symbol of the Lake Biwa Museum.
【Ninja Village Koga】
・Iga, Mie Prefecture and Koga, Shiga Prefecture are the "birthplace of ninja". A mountainous area surrounded by Suzuka Mountains in the east and Kasagi Mountains in the west. It is a place of exile for those in power at that time, and also an important point for east-west traffic through Yamato Road and Tokai-do Road, and is an area of military importance. During the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States), they were called Iga-shu and Koga-shu, and the area developed autonomy to protect their own land by their own power.
・"Aburahi Shrine" : In ancient times, there was a legend that a very bright light was emitted on the top of Mt. Aburahi (located in the east), and Aburahi no kami descended. The romon gate, corridor, worship hall and main shrine are lined up in a straight line.
All of them are designated as important cultural properties. This shrine is also famous as a location for period dramas.
【Miho Museum ・ Sagawa Art Museum ・ Shigaraki village】
"The Miho Museum" : Stands deep in the forested hill west of central Koka and can be visited in a side trip from Kyoto. It was designed by the renowned architect, I. M. Pei, and is named after Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan and the founder of the museum. The museum's exhibits consist of works from ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Romans, and various Asian cultures, with the pieces largely coming from Koyama's private collection. The main exhibit changes every year or so, and special exhibits change every few months.
・"Sagawa Art Museum"：Sagawa Art Museum was opened on March 22, 1998, is located in Moriyama, in the ancient district of Omi, amongst lush natural surroundings and in view of Lake Biwa.
・"Shigaraki Pottery Festival" : Held every year from October 8th to 10th for 3 days, every year. A sense of value with a 2-3 discount than usual. It's full of raccoon dogs from eight features that call for happiness, such as big round eyes, big stomach, and a happy smile.