53Maibara Omi Haniwa Earthenware Museum

Travel through history with the influential Okinaga clan

The Maibara district traditionally know as Omi-cho is dotted with tomb mounds associated with the Okinaga clan, a local group that held strong influence in the Yamato court where national power was centered during the late 5th and 6th centuries. This is one of the few tomb mound groups in Shiga Prefecture, and is of considerable historical significance.

The museum displays many haniwa (clay figures used as ritual and funerary objects) during the Kofun period (300 to 600 AD), and various other archaeological finds from the Omi region. One way that visitors are invited into the history of the Omi region is the virtual museum area, where visitors can play computer games based on haniwa. To add a dash of mystery to the learning process, game players can join Dr. Okinaga, a fictional character living in our time, in working out stories of disappearances at the tomb mounds.

Museum interior

Point of Interest

Hands-on exhibits

The museum provides hands-on exhibits of haniwa and other archaeological relics, allowing visitors to experience the direct feel of objects that are usually seen only in protective cases.



  • Address: 281-1 Godo, Maibara, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday in which case it will be closed the following day), the fourth Thursday of each month, over the New Year holiday, and occasional temporary closures
  • Entrance Fee: No charge.
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-52-5246, Fax 0749-52-8177
  • Parking: 42 spaces
  • Access: 20 minutes walk from JR Sakata Station (Hokuriku Main Line)

54Samegai Post Town Museum

A small museum in a restored landmark building

The Samegai district of Maibara flourished during the Edo period (1600-1868) as a post town along the Nakasendo Highway. Two historic buildings, the former post town headquarters (a municipal Cultural Property) and the former post office erected in the early 20th century under the supervision of William Merrill Vories (a national Cultural Property), were restored in 1999 and 2000 as the site for the Samegai Post Town Museum, which opened in November 2000. The first floor of the post office building holds displays about the old post town and a rest area, and is open to the public free of charge. The upper floor displays documents from the family of Kanzaemon Eryu who served as the Samegai village headman. The highlight is a 5.3 m long drawing of Samegai as it appeared in Edo times.

The former post office erected in the early 20th century under the supervision of William Merrill Vories (a national Cultural Property)

Point of Interest

The inside of the first floor

The restored Samegai post station building is open to the public and used for events including the Samegai Natural Beauty concerts presented four times per year.



  • Address: 592 Samegai, Maibara, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday in which case it will be closed the following day), and over the New Year holiday (12/27 to 1/5)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥200 for high school students and older (¥150 for a group of 20 or more), ¥100 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-54-2163
  • Parking: 50 spaces at “Samegai Mizu no Eki”
  • Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Samegai Station (Tokaido Main Line) / 5 minutes drive from the Maibara Interchange (Meishin Expressway) or Hokuriku Expressway

55Samegai Woodcarving Art Museum

Continuing the transmission of beauty and skill accumulated over 150 years

Three kilometers uphill from Samegai is the mountain village of Kaminyu, which has a 150-year-old tradition of woodcarving. Authentic carving techniques for items as large as architectural ornaments for shrines and temples, and as small as household Buddhist household altars, have been continually cultivated there down to the present time.

Located beside the clear-flowing stream that runs to the old Samegai post town, the museum, which was completed in October 2002, is a base for passing on the techniques and artistry of woodcraft. On display in the permanent exhibition room are sculptures by Taizo Mori, a native of Kaminyu, and woodcarvers who contributed to the building of the present-day village.

Permanent exhibition room

Point of Interest

“Oku no hosomichi” by Taizo Mori

The small village of Kaminyu, lying south of Samegai in a valley at the foot of Mt. Ryozen, has long been a center for woodworkers and sawyers, and woodcraft still flourishes there today with many resident professionals who carve shrine building ornaments, household Buddhist altars and other items.



  • Address: 95 Samegai, Maibara, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 16:00 Saturday, Sunday and holidays
  • Closed: Monday through Friday except on public holidays, and 12/1 to 3/31. (Visits may be specially arranged by telephone)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥300 for adults, ¥200 for middle and high school students, no charge for persons 75 or older, or elementary school students or younger
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-54-0842
  • Parking: In front of JR Samegai Station
  • Access: 10 minutes walk through Shukubamachi from JR Samegai Station (Tokaido Main Line)

56Kashiwabara Inn History Museum

Remembering the travelers’ culture of the old high road

Kashiwabara Inn, at the southern edge of Mt. Ibuki 2 km from the Shiga-Gifu prefectural border, was the 60th post station on the Nakasendo Highway during the Edo period (1603-1868). Still standing is an old streetscape with houses, a night lamp tower, signposts and other period items that evoke the post town atmosphere. The Kashiwabara Inn History Museum opened in 1998 to conserve and display materials relating to this post town and other aspects of travelers’ life on the Edo period Highway.

The museum exhibits include the Yorozutomecho book depicting village life and festivals over the centuries from 1660 to 1955, a model of the Kashibawara post town, an official notice board from about 1715, a drawing and model of the Kashiwabara Ochaya Goten (teahouse) inn which was reserved for the shogun’s use, a shop sign for Ibuki moxa, which was a local specialty product, and various items used by travelers.

Model of the Kashiwabara post town

Point of Interest

Unmodified residential room from 1917

The museum buildings were erected in 1917 as a private residence. The stately main building has a three-tiered gable roof, and the interior retains its original appearance with rippled glass windows and a very long veranda.



  • Address: 2101 Kashiwabara, Maibara, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), the day after a public holiday (except on Saturday or Sunday), and over the New Year holiday (12/27 to 1/5)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥300 for adults, ¥100 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0749-57-8020
  • Parking: 30 spaces at Kaiyo Aquatics Center
  • Access: 8 minutes walk west from JR Kashiwabara Station (Tokaido Main Line) / 10 minutes drive from the Sekigahara Interchange (Meishin Expressway), via National Route 21 / 10 minutes drive from the Maibara Interchange (Meishin Expressway) or Hokuriku Expressway, via National Route 21

57Mt. Ibuki Museum

Handcrafted displays on the nature and culture of the Mt. Ibuki area

The Maibara City opened the museum in 1998 at the foot of Mt. Ibuki, the highest mountain in Shiga Prefecture (1337 m) and a renowned treasure house for scientific research. The exhibits range across the natural and cultural history of the Mt. Ibuki area, including minerals and plants, relics found in archaeological excavations, and displays on the lifestyles and industries of modern communities around the base of the mountain. Many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods volunteered their time and energy in preparing exhibits before the museum opened, and the members of the Friends of the Museum remain active in assisting with museum activities.

In 2003, the museum was recognized as one of the 50 best renewals of closed school buildings in Japan, and did the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology include the only Shiga facility on the list.

Exhibit of Mt. Ibuki medicinal herbs, and an herbal sauna room

Point of Interest

Workshop conducted by the Friends of the Museum

The treasure of this museum is the Friends of the Museum. Among the currently active members are fabrication experts with special skills and grandma professors with stories and information from the past who enrich the interactive programs presented for children. The members also prepare additional explanatory materials to make the exhibits more informative.



  • Address: 77 Suijo, Maibara, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Monday, the day after a public holiday, and 12/27 to 1/5
  • Entrance Fee: ¥200 for adults, ¥100 for children of middle school age or younger
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0749-58-0252
  • Parking: 20 spaces
  • Access: From JR Omi Nagaoka Station (Tokaido Main Line from Maibara Shinkansen Station), board the bus bound for Ibuki Tozanguchi to the Joi Ibuki bus stop, and walk for 8 minutes

58Musée Narita

Experience the original creations of the master artist René Lalique

At the northeast tip of Lake Biwa, amid a traditional townscape along the old Hokkoku Highway in the city of Nagahama, stands a stylish art museum. It holds a collection, built up over more than 50 years, of original works by René Lalique, one of the few names at the top of any list of the world’s masters of modern glass art. The exhibits are regularly changed to showcase the full appeal of his work.

Each of Lalique’s works has many faces, which are revealed in various ways according to the angle of view and the nature of the light. The lighting in the display case for each work is carefully orchestrated to bring out its particular features as fully as possible. The mystical, fantastic world of René Lalique, always shining in new ways with changing light, is not to be missed.


Point of Interest


Guided by the concept of dialog with the artwork, the museum takes the utmost care in lighting each piece. In the lounge looking out on a Japanese garden, visitors can sink into a Le Corbusier sofa amid a gentle flow of music for a pleasing and tranquil interlude.



  • Address: 34-24 Asahicho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), and occasional temporary closures
  • Entrance Fee: ¥800 for adults, ¥600 for high school and university students, ¥500 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-65-0234
  • Parking: 5 spaces
  • Access: 12 minutes walk or 3 minutes ride by rental bicycle from JR Nagahama Station (Biwako Line). From the Tokaido Shinkansen, change at JR Maibara Station to the Biwako Line. / 15 minutes drive from the Nagahama Interchange (Hokuriku Expressway)

59Nagahama Railway Museum

Japan’s oldest station building with two antique locomotives

The old Nagahama Station, built in 1882 as the starting point of the Hokuriku Line, is the oldest surviving station building in Japan. With fireplaces on both floors and a spiral staircase with sculpted handrails, the interior is a fine example of early Western-style design in Japan. In 1985 it was designated as the country’s first railway memorial hall. It has been open to the public as a museum since 1983. The adjoining Railroad Culture Center has many displays about railroad history, and a model railroad that can be operated by visitors. Historic rolling stock is displayed in the Hokuriku Line Electrification Memorial Hall, including the D51 steam locomotive no. 793 and ED70 AC electric locomotive no. 1.

The old point equipment

Point of Interest

The two historic locomotives

Children especially enjoy operating the model railroad in the Railroad Culture Center, and sitting in the engineer’s seats of the two historic locomotives in the Hokuriku Line Electrification Memorial Hall. Other special exhibits designed for children are presented during the summer months.



  • Address: 1-41 Kitafunacho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:30 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Over the New Year holiday (12/29 to1/3)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥300 for adults, ¥150 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-63-4091, Fax 0749-63-4011
  • Parking: Nagahama Station West Parking Lot (payment required)
  • Access: 3 minutes walk from the Biwako Exit of JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Line from Maibara Station)


A fascinating hands-on museum for looking, touching and operating

The diesel engine and machinery manufacturer Yanmar Co., Ltd. observed its 100th anniversary in 2012, carrying forward the founding spirit “Grateful to serve for a better world,” and the mission “To conserve fuel is to serve mankind,” by serving the needs of farming, fishing and other industries worldwide and making active social contributions.

The YANMAR MUSEUM is filled with exciting exhibits and offers various participatory programs, all designed especially to provide children with opportunities for active, enjoyable discovery and learning.

Tractors, a pleasure boat and many other kinds of exhibits are displayed

Point of Interest

Operating a genuine excavator

The most popular item in the museum is the genuine excavator that everyone is welcome to operate. Two levers are used to move colored balls around. There are numerous other experiential exhibits, including a boat driving simulator and a foot bath warmed by engine heat.



  • Address: 6-50 Sanwacho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (entry until 17:00)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday in which case it will be closed the following day), and over the New Year holiday
  • Entrance Fee: ¥600 for adults, ¥300 for elementary and middle school students, no charge for preschool children
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-62-8887, Fax 0749-62-8780
  • Parking: 36 spaces
  • Access: 10 minutes walk from JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Main Line) / On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays a shuttle bus runs from Nagahama Station to the museum

61Nagahama Castle History Museum

The emblem of Nagahama, on the site of Hideyoshi’s home castle

Nagahama Castle was built in 1575-76 by the military and political leader Hideyoshi Hashiba (later Toyotomi), as his first stronghold upon becoming the daimyo (territorial lords) of the surrounding domain. Although the castle was destroyed in the early 17th century, the keep was authentically reconstructed in 1983. Inside is the museum, with exhibits about Hideyoshi as well as the history and culture of the northern Omi/Lake Biwa area. The view across Lake Biwa from the top story is the same prospect that Hideyoshi himself enjoyed.

The situation of building Nagahama Castle (miniature)

Point of Interest


The Nagahama Castle Historical Museum has a diorama that portrays the building of the original castle in the 16th century, a message from the past conveyed through the voice of Hideyoshi, and various models, exhibits and video presentations to acquaint visitors with the history of the area.



  • Address: 10-10 Koencho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Over the New Year holiday (12/ 27 to 1/2), and occasional temporary closures
  • Entrance Fee: ¥400 for adults, ¥200 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-63-4611, Fax 0749-63-4613
  • Parking: 125 cars, 11 large vehicles (at Hokoen Park)
  • Access: 7 minutes walk from the west exit of JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Main Line from Maibara Station). The castle is visible from the station

62Nagahama Hikiyama Museum

Maintaining the Hikiyama Festival tradition and supporting community activities

The museum displays actual floats that are pulled in the annual Nagahama Hikiyama Festival. Four of the city’s twelve giant floats are stored at the museum each year, and displayed two at a time for alternating periods of three months. Those floats are then returned to their home neighborhoods for the festival each April, and a new set of four floats is brought to the museum for storage and display through the following year.

On the first floor is a full-size replica of the Hikiyama Festival stage. In the theater on the upper floor, videos of the festival and its ceremonies and events including the annual highlight, kodomo-kyogen (children’s kabuki) performances are shown. The museum presents special exhibitions on themes relating to the hikiyama floats, kabuki, and the traditions of the city’s neighborhoods. There is also a float repair dock designed for dismantling the giant floats. A meeting hall and smaller event rooms are used by civic groups for various activities.

Hikiyama exhibit in the permanent exhibition room

Point of Interest

Full-size replica of the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival stage

After inspecting the giant hikiyama floats, visitors are invited to mount the full-size replica of the Hikiyama Festival stage, in order to comprehend its scale and experience the perspective of the child actors during the festival.



  • Address: 14-8 Motohamacho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (Entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Over the New Year holiday (12/29 to 1/3)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥600 for adults, ¥300 for children
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-65-3300, Fax 0749-65-3440
  • Parking: Nearby a pay parking lot
  • Access: 7 minutes walk from JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Line). Bicycles can be rented in the station and at nearby facilities. JR Shin-Kaisoku special rapid trains reach Nagahama Station in about 60 minutes from Kyoto, or in about 90 minutes from Osaka or Nagoya

63Kunitomo Historic Firearms Museum

Handle genuine arquebuses made during Japan’s 16th century wars

Firearms first arrived in Japan, on the island of Tanegashima in 1543, and in the following year the first firearm made here at Kunitomo was presented to the shogun. The arquebus immediately took on an essential role in the internal wars of the Sengoku period, which continued until 1600, and was gradually improved under the victorious unifying generals Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa. Under Ieyasu, who led from 1600 to 1615, steady large orders made Kunitomo into a flourishing manufacturing center, with Japan’s first assembly-line production system.

At the museum, the upstairs exhibition room displays antique Kunitomo firearms of various types and sizes as well as the tools used to make them, along with dioramas showing 17th century gunsmiths in various stages of the production. On the first floor there are video presentations about cultural pioneers of Kunitomo, including Ikkansai Kunitomo and Sohan Tsuji, and displays of materials associated with them.

Various Kunitomo firearms

Point of Interest

Visitors can handle an arquebus

Kunitomo arquebuses, rifles and other types of firearms are on display, with information about the groundbreaking role Kunitomo gunsmiths played in Japan. Visitors are also invited to hold a genuine antique arquebus, and experience its weight and feel for themselves.



  • Address: 534 Kunitomocho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Over the New Year holiday (12/28 to 1/3)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥300 for adults, ¥150 for elementary or middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0749-62-1250
  • Parking: 15 spaces
  • Access: From JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Main Line), board the Kokoku Bus bound for Azai Shisho-mae or Kenko Park Azai, to the Kunitomo Teppo Shiryokan-mae bus stop / 5 minutes drive from the Nagahama Interchange (Hokuriku Expressway). Go west (toward the town), turn right at the Yamashina-higashi traffic light, then turn left at the Kunitomo traffic light and enter the museum parking lot

64Kohoku Wild Bird Center

Bird watching along the lakeshore

The stretch of lakeshore in Kohoku-cho, designated as the Kohoku-cho Waterfowl Park, is recognized as one of the foremost waterfowl habitats in Japan, and is visited by protected species including the bean goose and Steller’s sea eagle. The Kohoku Wild Bird Center opened in 1988 to enable bird watching from an indoor space.

Following the listing of the Lake Biwa wetlands under the Ramsar Convention in 1993, the Japan Ministry of the Environment built an education and research facility next to the Wild Bird Center, the Lake Biwa Waterfowl and Wetlands Center, which opened in 1997. The two facilities form a base for enjoying and learning about the waterfowl ecology of Lake Biwa.

Enjoying bird watching

Point of Interest

Tundra swan

The monthly bird walks are opportunities to enjoy nature through the seasons while observing birds such as Steller’s sea eagle and the tundra swan, fireflies and other insects, and learning about the ecosystem. Once each year the Center sponsors a haiku event where participants include bird names in their poems.



  • Address: Kohokucho Imanishi, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 16:30
  • Closed: Tuesday (except on a public holiday in which case it will be closed the following day)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥200 for adults, ¥100 for elementary and middle school students (no charge for Nagahama elementary and middle school students)
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-79-1289
  • Parking: 60 spaces
  • Access: 20 minutes ride on the Community Bus from JR Kawake Station (Hokuriku Main Line) / 20 minutes drive from the Nagahama Interchange, or 15 minutes drive north from the Kinomoto Interchange (Hokuriku Expressway)

65Chikubu Island Hogon Temple Treasure House

Temple treasures handed down on the sacred island of Chikubu Island

Chikubu Island is a small island in northern Lake Biwa, with a 2 km coastline of solid sheer cliffs and a dense covering of greenery. This island, which seems to repel human access, has been revered since ancient times as sacred ground, and today holds the Hogon Temple and Tsukubu Istand Shrine.

The Treasure House was opened in 1953 to conserve and display to the public the temple’s collection of Buddhist statues, paintings and scriptures, letters, and donated artworks, renowned as the finest collection in the northern Lake Biwa area. Including many National Treasures and Important National Cultural Properties, the collection recounts the long and deep history surrounding the temple and its traditions.

“Chikubushima Shutsugen Benzaiten Mandala” (Prefectural Cultural Property)

Point of Interest

Seated Benzaiten statue

Attributed to the famous 9th century painter Kanaoka Kose, the “Shutsugen Benzaiten Mandala” is portraied the first descent to Chikubu Island of the goddess Benzaiten. The Benzaiten images worshipped at Hogon Temple depict an eight-armed goddess, in contrast to the common representation of Benzaiten with two arms holding a lute.



  • Address: 1664-1 Chikubushima, Hayazakicho, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:30-16:30 from March to November, 10:30-16:00 from December to February
  • Closed: Open every day
  • Entrance Fee: ¥300 for adults, ¥200 for middle and elementary school students, no charge for younger children
  • Inquiries: Phone 0749-63-4410
  • Parking: At each boat harbor
  • Access: Regular tour boat services from Nagahama, Hikone, and Imazu Harbors, about 20 to 40 minutes each way

66Reisui Temple Tainai Buddha Museum

The smallest museum in Japan

Along National Route 8 just southwest of the Hokuriku Expressway intersection, is the Takatsuki-cho Une neighborhood, where for many years the community has expressed its fervent religious faith by tending a statue of Kannon (Guanyin). The present, the statue and other materials about the history and culture of the community are housed in the Reisui temple Tainai Buddha Museum, which was opened in 1998 with support from the prefectural original and innovative community development program. The following year the Ministry of Construction provided a handcrafted community grant to support local social capital, and the community residents performed the planning, design and construction of the museum entirely by themselves. The museum is usually not staffed. When the door is opened, the lights and audio explanation come on automatically. The displays include a model of the community as it appeared after being burned down during the wars of the 16th century.

All of the displays are information panels

Point of Interest

Reaffirmation of the Tainai Buddha statue

On display is the restored Kannon statue that was severely damaged in 1583, when soldiers led by Katsuie Shibata set fire to the community during the battle of Shizugatake. There is also a life-sized panel illustrating its story, and displays depicting the reaffirmation of the statue.



  • Address: 308-1 Takatsukicho Une, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: 24 hours a day
  • Closed: Never closed
  • Entrance Fee: No charge
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0749-85-3209
  • Parking: 10 spaces
  • Access: 5 minutes drive from JR Takatsuki Station (Hokuriku Main Line from Maibara Station)

67Fuse Art Museum

The private collection of a doctor who was devoted to Zen

The practicing physician Makitaro Fuse opened the museum for his art collection in 1953 (it was established as a foundation the following year). Due to limited resources the museum is now closed except during occasional special exhibitions. Presently the main activity is the loan of works to national and prefectural museums. Works by Tessai Tomioka (1837-1924), the modern master of the Southern School of Chinese painting, make up the core of the collection, and there are also works by other Southern School painters including Gyokudo Uragami and Daiga Ikeno, and the local farmer-artist Masakuni Katayama. The collection also includes calligraphy by Ekaku Hakuin and other Zen masters, sutras and objects from ancient Japan (Nara and Heian periods) as well as China and Korea, old medical texts from Japan and China, and historical documents from the Omi region.

Butsu hongyo jikkyo (Sutra of the Collected Stories of the Buddha’s Deeds in Past Lives), Volume 41 (Tenpyo era, 729-749 AD)

Point of Interest

Jurojin (God of Longevity), by Tessai Tomioka

Works from this collection are shown locally in a special exhibition each autumn at the Takatsuki “Kannon-no-Sato” History and Folk Museum.



  • Address: 339 Takatsukicho Karakawa, Nagahama, Shiga
  • Hours: By appointment
  • Closed: Closed except during special exhibitions (appointment required)
  • Entrance Fee: No charge
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0749-85-2363
  • Parking: 3 spaces
  • Access: 2.7 km from JR Kinomoto Station (Hokuriku Main Line from Maibara Station). Taxis are usually available at the station