27Tokaido Highway and Ishibe Post Town History and Folk Museum

Recreating the appearance and culture of the Ishibe post town

The 5th station along the Tokaido Highway from Kyoto to Tokyo was the Ishibe post town, which lay about a day’s journey (about 38 km) from Kyoto, giving rise to a popular saying, “Rise in Kyoto, stay in Ishibe.” It included two inns reserved for the use of daimyo (territorial lords) during journeys to and from Edo (present-day Tokyo) where they spent much time attending the imperial court, as well as other lodgings for the general public.

The museum consists of “Ishibe-shukuba no Sato”, a reproduction of several Edo period buildings, and the Tokaido Highway History Museum, which displays the traveling culture of the time. Both facilities are located in the Ameyama Cultural Sports Park.

Replica of the Kojima inn for daimyos

Point of Interest

Visitor’s books of Kojima Inn, the officially appointed inn for daimyos in the Edo Period

Inside the recreated daimyo inn buildings, displays of items used in daily life between the 17th and early 20th centuries take the visitor back in time. “Ishibe-shukuba no Sato” has been used as a setting for period films.



  • Address: 2 Chome-1−1 Ameyama, Konan, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), the day after a public holiday (except Saturday or Sunday), and over the New Year holiday (Dec. 28 to Jan. 4)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥350 for adults, ¥150 for students (¥50 discount for each person in a group of 20 or more)
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-77-5400, Fax 0748-77-5401
  • Parking: 30 spaces (and 300 spaces at Ameyama Cultural Sports Park)
  • Access: 30 minutes walk from JR Ishibe Station (Kusatsu Line). The Kusatsu Line starts at JR Kusatsu Station (Biwako Line from Kyoto Station) / Bicycles can be rented near JR Ishibe Station. Call 0748-77-5667 for information


A fine art museum nestled in the serene mountains of Shigaraki

The museum was designed by I. M. Pei, who is renowned for the glass pyramid at The Louvre, based on a motif from The Peach Blossom Spring, a story from 5th-century China by Tao Yuan Ming. The visitor passes along a path lined with weeping cherry trees, through a glittering silver tunnel, and across a suspension bridge over a deep valley before reaching the museum building. The South Wing holds a permanent exhibition of masterpieces from the ancient world in four exhibition areas for Egypt, West Asia, South Asia, and China/Western Regions. The North Wing houses seasonal exhibitions of selected works from the museum’s collections and elsewhere, as well as special exhibitions. There is a museum shop offering original products, and a café and restaurant serving food prepared from organic ingredients.

Standing Buddha, Pakistan, Gandhara, second half of the 2nd century AD

Point of Interest

Workshop for children

Let’s make friends with the museum! The Thrilling Museum is a fun tour of the artworks, and there are workshops for children about 15 times a year. Groups of children with one or two leaders are admitted to the museum at no charge. Arrangements must be made in advance with the Education Office.



  • Address: 300 Shigarakicho Tashiro, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:00)
  • Closed: Mid-December to mid-March, and other periods during the year. Visit www.miho.jp for current schedule. Closed Mondays during weeks when the museum is open (except on a public holiday in which case it will be closed the following weekday).
  • Entrance Fee: ¥1100 for adults, ¥800 for high school and university students, ¥300 for elementary and middle school students. ¥200 discount per person for a group of 20 or more. (Effective March 15, 2014)
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-82-3411, Fax 0748-82-3414
  • Parking: 150 cars, 20 large vehicles
  • Access: From JR Ishiyama Station (Biwako Line from Kyoto Station), take the Teisan Bus to the MIHO MUSEUM bus stop

29Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

From Shigaraki to the world through ceramics

The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park is a comprehensive center that includes the Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, the Institute of Ceramic Studies, where pottery artists from around the world gather for exchanges, residencies and workshops, the Exhibition Hall of Industrial Ceramics, which introduces the wide variety of Shigaraki ware, and outdoor exhibition areas.

The park opened in 1990 as a forest of culture to bring together people, objects and information for interaction around the axis of pottery. The goals are to foster the creation of international, contemporary culture, and to revitalize the ancient local industry of Shigaraki. Through exhibitions and workshops as well as learning programs in cooperation with educational institutions, the park is actively transmitting the vitality and appeal of pottery from Shigaraki to the world.

Shigaraki ware “Large Vessel” (Muromachi period, 15th century)

Point of Interest

Linda Cares (USA), “Togi the Tanuki” (1992)

Along the approach to the museum stands a work by Linda Cares, an American who was a residential artist at the Institute of Ceramic Studies. With its charming and unique expression, this piece offers a joyous welcome to visitors and has inspired popular souvenir products available at the museum shop.



  • Address: 2188-7 Shigarakicho Chokushi, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:30 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), over the New Year holiday, and occasional closures during exhibition changes
  • Entrance Fee: Varies with different exhibitions. No charge for children of middle school age and younger.
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-83-0909 Fax 0748-83-1193 Email togeinomori@sccp.jp
  • Parking: 250 cars, 10 buses
  • Access: 20 minutes walk from Shigaraki Station on the Shigaraki Kogen Railway. Board the Shigaraki Kogen Railway at JR Kibukawa Station (Kusatsu Line) / 8 minutes drive from the Shigaraki Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway) / 30 minutes drive from the Mibuno Interchange (Meihankokudo Highway)

30Shigaraki Traditional Craft Center

Gifts of earth and fire ? the 750-year tradition of Shigaraki ware

Cultivated through a long history of tradition and innovation, Shigaraki pottery is a local industry that has anchored the economy of the area through many changing eras. Soon after Shigaraki ware was officially designated as a traditional craft in September 1975, the center was built as part of the community’s efforts to create programs to sustain the successors to the traditional kilns and support the development of new products using traditional techniques. The gallery presents special exhibitions on various aspects of the history of Shigaraki ware, allowing visitors to experience the appeal of Shigaraki pottery and also serving as a base for tourism in Shigaraki.

Reference room

Point of Interest

General reference room

The gallery displays selected Shigaraki ware from the 13th through to the 19th centuries. Changing special exhibitions highlight traditional, modern and contemporary pottery.



  • Address: 1142 Shigarakicho Nagano, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Thursday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), and over the New Year holiday
  • Entrance Fee: No charge
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-82-2345, Fax 0748-82-2551
  • Parking: 6 spaces (100 spaces at the Shiyakusho Shisho)
  • Access: By train: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Biwako Line to JR Kusatsu Station, then the JR Kusatsu Line to Kibukawa Station, and then the Shigaraki Kogen Railway to Shigaraki Station, and walk for 8 minutes / By bus: From JR Ishiyama Station (Biwako Line from Kyoto Station), take the Teisan Bus to Tanakami Shako, then take the Shigaraki bus to the Shigaraki Dento Sangyo Kaikan-mae bus stop, and walk for 3 minutes / Bicycles may be rented at Shigarakigushi Station and at the Shigaraki Traditional Craft Center

31Koka Ninja Estate

A genuine ninja house, just as it was built in the Edo period

The house was built during the Genroku era (1688-1704) as the residence of Mochizuki Izumonokami, the head of the Koka clan, 53 families. As the only existing house in Japan with mechanisms designed personally by an old-time ninja, it is a genuine ninja estate with outstanding historical value. The interior is fitted with many special contrivances, including a revolving wall panel, a pitfall, and a hidden ladder to a hidden room, and there are exhibits of books containing the secrets of Koka ninja techniques, and various tools and weapons, including throwing stars. The “ninjutsu” (fighting art of the ninja) is an accumulation of knowledge that was cultivated over centuries. This genuine ninja estate provides an impressive personal experience of the ninja tradition that flourished during the eras of internal warfare in Japan.

Point of Interest

Pitfall trap for invaders

Visitors can have hands-on experience of the revolving wall panel, the hidden ladder to a hidden room, and other contrivances built into the genuine ninja residence. They are also invited to throw stars like a real ninja, and drink ninja tea, brewed according to a healthy tea recipe from an esoteric ninja text.

Hidden ladder


  • Address: 2331 Konancho Ryuboshi, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
  • Closed: Over the New Year holiday (12/27 to 1/1)
  • Entrance Fee: ¥600 for adults (middle school students or older), ¥300 for elementary school students, no charge for preschool children
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-86-2179, Fax 074-886-7505
  • Parking: 80 spaces
  • Access: 2 kilometers from JR Konan Station (Kusatsu Line from Kyoto Station) / 3 minutes drive from the Konan Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway) / 20 minutes drive from the Kamitsuge Interchange (Meihankokudo Highway) / 35 minutes drive from the Ryuo Interchange (Meishin Expressway)

32Koka City Kounan “Fureai-no-Yakata”

A place to get in touch with disappearing traditional lifestyles

The museum opened in 1991 as a place for interchange and collaboration among all generations, from children to senior citizens, aimed towards the renewal of the local society. There are displays of traditional household articles and tools.

A community group that formed in 2001 meets on the first Wednesday of each month to collect and compile items that were traditionally used in the daily life of the area.

The exhibition room displays various maebikinoko (a pull-stroke cutting saw). Konan was a main production area for these large saws, used mainly for re-sawing logs, and supplied them to all parts of Japan from the middle of the 18th century until middle of the 20th century. The museum also has a complete set of tools for the production of maebikinoko. In 2005, Shiga Prefecture designated the maebikinoko as a Tangible Folk Cultural Property.

Museum exhibits

Point of Interest

Maebikinoko (a pull-stroke cutting saw)

The maebikinoko on display were produced from the mid-18th century onward in the Konan area. Production peaked during the first half of the 20th century. On permanent display is a precious set of saw-making tools, which are a generally unknown aspect of the Japanese lumber industry.



  • Address: Konancho Kazuraki, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Monday and Tuesday, and over the New Year holiday (12/26 to 1/3)
  • Entrance Fee: No charge
  • Inquiries: Phone/Fax 0748-86-7551
  • Parking: 10 spaces
  • Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Konan Station (Kusatsu Line). From Kyoto Station, take the Biwako Line to JR Kusatsu Station and change to the Kusatsu Line / 10 minutes drive from the Konan Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway)

33Koka Ninja Museum

Experience the history and culture of the Koka ninja clan

The museum is part of Koka Ninja Village, located in a mountainous rural area, where everyone is welcome to experience ninja craft in an authentic setting. The building is an old thatch-roofed house associated with Koka-style ninja, with a transferred and remodeled structure attached. Various materials related to the Koka ninja tradition are on display. Among the documents in the museum collection is a letter from shogun Yoshiaki Ashikaga (reigned 1568 to 1573) requesting the services of the Koka ninja clan, and a copy of the 17th century Mansenshukai secret manual of ninja arts. The museum has conducted research on ninja techniques and on the connections between the Koka ninja and national military leaders, such as Nobunaga Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa.

Various ninja equipment can be handled in the ninja training hall

Point of Interest

A visitor walking on water with the “water spider”

Including the museum, the eight-acre Ninja Village is a theme park with ninja estates equipped with special contrivances, a star-throwing training room, and other attractions.



  • Address: 394 Kokacho Oki, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (entry until 16:00)
  • Closed: Monday (except on a public holiday, in which case it will be closed the following day), and over the New Year holiday (Dec. 27 to Jan. 1). Open on some Mondays (call to confirm).
  • Entrance Fee: Included with admission to Koka Ninja Village (¥1000 for adults, ¥800 for ages 13-18, ¥700 ages 6-12, ¥500 for ages 3-6)
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-88-5000
  • Parking: 80 spaces
  • Access: Complimentary shuttle service available by reservation from JR Koka Station (Kusatsu Line) to Koka Ninja Village

34Tsuchiyama History and Folk Museum

Highway evolution as a window on Tsuchiyama history and culture

Lying at the foot of the Suzuka Pass, Tsuchiyama flourished for centuries as the main town along the highway linking the Omi and Ise regions. The highway has brought prosperity to Tsuchiyama for a thousand years, from Heian times when it was the pilgrimage road from Kyoto to the Ise Shrine, through the Edo period when it was the Tokaido Highway linking Kyoto and Edo (present-day Tokyo), to today’s National Route 1 and Shin-Meishin Expressway. The museum takes the highway as a window onto the history and culture of Tsuchiyama. The visitor proceeds through both space and history to track the story of the town that flourished against the backdrop of the highway. The Tokaido Highway Tenmakan Museum, located along the old Tokaido Highway, displays models and images of Tsuchiyama inn and the other post towns that served travelers from the 17th to 19th centuries. There is also a workshop space for ochazome (tea dyeing), producing fabrics colored by locally grown tea.

The mountain pass and Tsuchiyama

Point of Interest

Oroku comb

The museum displays old shop signs for specialty products of the Tsuchiyama post town including tea, Oroku combs and Kanigasaka candy, as well as antique items, such as tea urns, in a recreation of the atmosphere of the old highway.



  • Address: 2230 Tsuchiyamacho Kitatsuchiyama, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Monday and Tuesday, and over the New Year Holiday
  • Entrance Fee: No charge
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-66-1056, Fax 0748-66-1067
  • Parking: 200 spaces at Bunka Koen
  • Access: 10 minutes drive east from the Koka-Tsuchiyama Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway), via National Route 1 / From JR Kibukawa Station (Kusatsu Line from Kyoto Station), board the Aikuru Bus to the Shiyakusho Tsuchiyama Shisho bus stop, and walk north for 5 minutes

35Minakuchi History and Folk Museum

Festival floats that carry “Minakuchi-bayashi” rhythms, and the origin of an old post town

The museum opened in 1984 to present the history and folkways of Minakuchi, the main town of the Koka district in centuries past. The exhibits include paintings and tiles from Minakuchi Okayama Castle erected by Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1585, and Minakuchi Castle erected by the shogun Iemitsu Tokugawa in 1634. There are also documents, pictures and specialty products from the Minakuchi post town, one of the 53 stations on the Tokai highway. In addition, each year the museum displays a different float used in the annual Minakuchi Hikiyama (Float) Festival, which originated in the early Edo period and is well known for “Minakuchi-bayashi” drumming. A room with free entry introduces the achievements of the modernist writer Ichiroku Iwaya and his son Sazanami Iwaya, the originators of Japanese children’s literature, and members of a Minakuchi family.

Hikiyama (festival float)

Point of Interest

Minakuchi Castle Museum

The Minakuchi Castle Museum, housed in a two-story replica of a castle turret, opened in 1991 on land adjacent to the History and Folk Museum at the site of the castle ruins (a prefectural monument). It contains a model of the castle, which was built in 1634 by Tycoon Iemitsu Tokugawa, as well as displays about the Edo period Minakuchi domain and its Kato daimyo (territorial lords) family.



  • Address: 5638 Minakuchicho Minakuchi, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
  • Closed: Thursday and Friday, and over the New Year holiday
  • Entrance Fee: ¥150 for adults, ¥80 for elementary and middle school students (¥200 for a Minakuchi Castle Museum combination ticket)
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-62-7141, Fax 0748-63-4737
  • Parking: 20 spaces
  • Access: 2 minutes walk from Minakuchi Jonan Station (Omi Railway Line). The Omi Railway Line starts at Kibukawa Station (Kusatsu Line). The Kusatsu Line starts at JR Kusatsu Station (JR Biwako Line from Kyoto Station) / 15 minutes drive from the Koka-Tsuchiyama Interchange or Konan Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway), toward the Koka City Hall, Minakuchi Branch

36Minakuchi Children’s Forest Nature Park and Museum

A vast museum of nature in a satoyama landscape

Symbolized by the clouded salamander and Japanese lily, Minakuchi Children’s Forest Nature Park in Koka includes a large tract of Satoyama (natural woodlands and fields) tended over centuries by local residents. Walking through the park, visitors can observe farm fields, grasslands, coppice forests and planted forests, as well as wild animals and plants and geological strata (ancient Lake Biwa sediments).

In the museum is a portrayal of the forest as it appeared 2.3 million years ago when it was home to elephants and crocodiles, as well as models of some of the many creatures that still flourish in the area, fossils, insect specimens and more.

The Minakuchi area 2.3 million years ago

Point of Interest

Workshop farm

The wet and dry fields and grasslands of the workshop farm are tended without chemicals, so many kinds of insects and other animals can be seen. Other nature activities are also available. The park is a fine example of satoyama, a semi-natural environment partially shaped by human activity, which is a typical feature of the traditional Japanese countryside.



  • Address: 10 Minakuchicho Kitanaiki, Koka, Shiga
  • Hours: 9:00 - 16:30 (museum entry until 16:00)
  • Closed: Monday (excluding public holidays), the day after a public holiday (except Saturday or Sunday), and over the New Year holiday
  • Entrance Fee: ¥200 for adults, ¥100 for elementary and middle school students
  • Inquiries: Phone 0748-63-6712, Fax 0748-63-0466
  • Parking: About 50 spaces
  • Access: 7 minutes by Aikoka Demand Bus from JR Kibukawa Station (Kusatsu Line, running from JR Kusatsu Station on the Biwako Line). A bus reservation must be made at least one day in advance / 20 minutes drive from the Shigaraki Interchange (Shin-Meishin Expressway)