Lake Biwa is Japan’s largest freshwater lake, and is located in Shiga Prefecture, in the middle of Japan. There are hundreds of rivers flowing from the 1000 m + mountain ranges in the north, east and west, and these moisten the plains before flowing into the lake. The water in the lake flows out via the Seta River, at the southern end of the lake, and downstream it becomes the Yodogawa River, before flowing into the sea. Without Lake Biwa, Shiga’s unique nature, history and culture could have never developed. Everything started from the lake.

Today you can travel around the lake by train or car, and many people enjoy walking or cycling along the lakeshore to maintain good health. In the winter the lake is home to large numbers of migratory birds, while in summer the lake is popular with anglers. Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan for about 1000 years, is a famous sightseeing location, but Shiga’s nature, history and culture can rival those of Kyoto. Shiga’s typical Japanese countryside villages and the
beautiful lake scenery are complimented with more than 80 museums located around the lake.

We produced this guidebook to introduce Shiga’s nature, history and culture to people who are visiting Japan for sightseeing, study, and business, as well as local foreign residents. If you want to know about Japanese culture, history and nature, we hope this book will entice you to visit Shiga. We are sure it will be of great help for those searching for a wonderful and meaningful encounter with Japanese culture.

This guidebook was edited by The Shiga History/Art Museums Guidebook Editing Committee, and financially supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan (fiscal year 2013). The Shiga Association of Museums cooperated with The Kambiwako University Regional Consortium, so foreign university students studying in Japan wrote and translated the manuscripts. We’d like to thank everybody who supported and cooperated with us.

Thank you very much.

Toru Shinohara
(President of The Shiga History/Art Museums Guidebook
Editing Committee, Director of the Lake Biwa Museum)

Takaaki Niren
(Subpresident of The Shiga History/Art Museums Guidebook
Editing Committee, Subpresident of the University of Shiga Prefecture)

Shiga Association of Museums