Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県 Shiga-ken) is a prefecture of Japan, which forms part of the Kansai region in the western part of Honshu island. It encircles Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The capital is Ōtsu.
|Subdivisions||Districts: 3, Municipalities: 19|
|• Governor||Taizō Mikazuki|
|• Total||4,017.38 km2 (1,551.12 sq mi)|
(October 1, 2015)
|• Density||350/km2 (910/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-25|
|Bird||Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)|
|Flower||Rhododendron (Rhododendron metternichii var. hondoense)|
|Tree||Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)|
Shiga was known as Ōmi Province or Gōshū before the prefectural system was established. Omi was a neighbor of Nara and Kyoto, at the junction of western and eastern Japan. During the period 667 to 672, Emperor Tenji founded a palace in Otsu. In 742, Emperor Shōmu founded a palace in Shigaraki. In the early Heian period, Saichō was born in the north of Otsu and founded Enryaku-ji, the center of Tendai and one a UNESCO World Heritage Site and monument of Ancient Kyoto now.
In the Medieval Period, the Sasaki clan ruled Omi, and afterward the Rokkaku clan, Kyōgoku clan and Azai clans ruled Omi. In the 1570s, Oda Nobunaga subjugated Omi and built Azuchi Castle on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa in 1579. Tōdō Takatora, Gamō Ujisato, Oichi, Yodo-dono, Ohatsu and Oeyo were Omi notables in the Sengoku period. In those times, Ninja were active in Kōka (See also Kōga-ryū).
In 1600, Ishida Mitsunari, born in the east of Nagahama and based in Sawayama Castle, made war against Tokugawa Ieyasu in Sekigahara, Gifu. After the battle, Ieyasu made Ii Naomasa a new lord of Sawayama. Naomasa established the Hikone Domain, later famous for Ii Naosuke. Ii Naosuke became the Tokugawa shogunate's Tairō and concluded commercial treaties with the Western powers and thus ended Japan's isolation from the world in the 19th century. Besides the Hikone Domain, many domains ruled Omi such as Zeze. With the abolition of the han system, eight prefectures were formed in Omi. They were unified into Shiga Prefecture in September 1872. "Shiga Prefecture" was named after "Shiga District" because Otsu belonged to the district until 1898. From August 1876 to February 1881, southern Fukui Prefecture had been incorporated into Shiga Prefecture.
In 2015, Shiga Governor Taizō Mikazuki conducted a survey asking citizens whether they felt it necessary to change the name of the prefecture, partly to raise its profile as a destination for domestic tourism.
Lake Biwa, Japan's largest, is located at the center of this prefecture. It occupies one-sixth of its area. The Seta River flows from Lake Biwa to Osaka Bay through Kyoto. This is the only natural river that flows out from the lake. Most other natural rivers flow into the lake. There were many lagoons around Lake Biwa, but most of them were reclaimed in 1940s. One of the preserved lagoons is the wetland (水郷 suigō) in Omihachiman, and it was selected as the first Important Cultural Landscapes in 2006.
The lake divides the prefecture into four different areas: Kohoku (湖北, north of lake) centered Nagahama, Kosei (湖西, west of lake) centered Imazu, Kotō (湖東, east of lake) centered Hikone and Konan (湖南, south of lake) centered Otsu.
Plains stretch to the eastern shore of Lake Biwa. The prefecture is enclosed by mountain ranges with the Hira Mountains and Mount Hiei in the west, the Ibuki Mountains in the northeast, and the Suzuka Mountains in the southeast. Mount Ibuki is the highest mountain in Shiga. In Yogo, a small lake is famous for the legend of the heavenly robe of an angel (天女の羽衣 tennyo no hagoromo), which is similar to a western Swan maiden.
Shiga's climate sharply varies between north and south. Southern Shiga is usually warm, but northern Shiga is typically cold with high snowfall and hosts many skiing grounds. In Nakanokawachi, the northernmost village of Shiga, snow reached a depth of 5.6 metres (18 ft) in 1936.
As of 1 April 2014, 37% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks (the highest total of any prefecture), namely the Biwako and Suzuka Quasi-National Parks; and Kotō, Kutsuki-Katsuragawa, and Mikami-Tanakami-Shigaraki Prefectural Natural Parks.
Thirteen cities are located in Shiga Prefecture:
These are the towns in each district:
The current governor of Shiga is Taizō Mikazuki, a former member of the House of Representatives from Shiga (DPJ, 3rd district), who was narrowly elected in July 2014 with center-left support against ex-METI-bureaucrat Takashi Koyari (supported by the center-right national-level ruling parties) to succeed governor Yukiko Kada. In June 2018, he was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term against only one, Communist challenger.
The prefectural assembly has 44 members from 16 electoral districts, and is still elected in unified local elections (last round: 2019). As of July 2019, the assembly was composed by caucus as follows: LDP 20 members, Team Shiga (CDP, DPP, former Kada supporters etc.) 14, JCP 4, Sazanami Club (of independents) 3, Kōmeitō 2, "independent"/non-attached 1.
In the National Diet, Shiga is represented by four directly elected members of the House of Representatives and two (one per ordinary election) of the House of Councillors. For the proportional representation segment of the lower house, the prefecture forms part of the Kinki block. After the national elections of 2016, 2017 and 2019, the directly elected delegation to the Diet from Shiga consists of (as of August 1, 2019):
Cultivated areas occupy nearly one-sixth of the prefecture. Rice is the principal crop: over 90 percent of the farmlands are rice fields. Most farms are small, producing only a slight income. Most farmers depend on income from other sources. Eastern Shiga is famous for cattle breeding and southeastern Shiga is famous for green tea. On Lake Biwa, some people are engaged in fishery and freshwater pearl farming.
Since the Medieval Period, especially in Edo period, many Shiga people were active in commerce and were called Ōmi merchants (近江商人 Ōmi shōnin, Ōmi akindo), sometimes Ōmi thieves (近江泥棒 Ōmi dorobō) by other envious merchants. For example, Nippon Life, Itochu, Marubeni, Takashimaya, Wacoal and Yanmar were founded by people from Shiga. In their home towns such as Omihachiman, Hino, Gokashō and Toyosato, their mansions were preserved as tourist attractions.
Beginning in the 1960s, Shiga developed industry, supporting major factories owned by companies such as IBM Japan, Canon, Yanmar Diesel, Mitsubishi, and Toray. According to Cabinet Office's statistics in 2014, the Manufacturing sector accounted for 35.4% of Gross Shiga Product, the highest proportion in Japan. Traditional industries include textiles, Shigaraki ware, Butsudan in Hikone and Nagahama, medicines in Koka, and fan ribs in Adogawa.
The population is concentrated along the southern shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu city (adjacent to Kyoto) and along the lake's eastern shore in cities such as Kusatsu and Moriyama, which are within commuting distance to Kyoto. The lake's western and northern shores are more rural and resort-oriented with white sand beaches. In recent years, many Brazilians settled in Shiga to work in nearby factories. 25,040 foreigners live in Shiga and 30% of foreigners were Brazilians as of December 2016.
Biwa Town (now a part of Nagahama) is a home of The Tonda Traditional Bunraku Puppet Troupe. Founded in the 1830s, the group is one of the most active traditional Bunraku puppet theaters in Japan outside the National Theater in Osaka. Toyosato and Higashiomi are known to a mecca of Goshu ondo.
Since ancient times, Shigans have eaten fish from Lake Biwa. The most famous lake-food is fermented sushi of crucian carp (鮒寿司 funa-zushi). It retains the ancient style of sushi and has a pungent odor. Shiga is also famous for high quality wagyū, Ōmi beef. The Hikone Domain presented beef as medicinal food to shōguns. In addition, tsukemono of root crops, mallard nabe or mallard sukiyaki (鴨鍋 or 鴨すき kamo-nabe or kamo-suki) in northern Shiga, red colored konjac (赤こんにゃく aka konnyaku) in Omihachiman, sōmen with grilled mackerel (焼鯖素麺 yaki-saba sōmen) in Nagahama, and lightly seasoned champon in Hikone are examples of specific cuisine in Shiga.
Biwako Broadcasting broadcasts local TV programs. NHK has a broadcasting station in Otsu. Shiga is the only prefecture which has no regional newspapers. Kyoto Shimbun is a de facto regional newspaper of Shiga.
The following sports teams are based in Shiga.
Shiga has many tourism resources, but Shiga is overshadowed by its much more famous neighbor Kyoto. Over four million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2000, but only sixty-five thousand visited Shiga.
The main gateways to Shiga are the Maibara Station in northern Shiga and the city of Ōtsu in the south. The Maibara Station is about 2 hours and 20 minutes away from the Tokyo Station by the Tokaido Shinkansen. It is easy to go to Ōtsu from Kyoto and Osaka by high-speed trains.
Shiga's most prominent feature is Lake Biwa. The northern shore is especially scenic, such as the cherry blossoms of Kaizu Osaki in spring and the sacred island Chikubu-shima. The western shore has white sand beaches, popular among Kyotoites during the summer. The scenery of the southern shore, particularly around Otsu, was selected as Ōmi Hakkei or Eight Views of Ōmi, popularized by Hiroshige's ukiyo-e. Most of the original eight views are now almost gone or changed from centuries ago. One remaining view is the Ukimidō "floating temple" building at Mangetsu-ji temple in Katata, northern Ōtsu. It was reconstructed with concrete in 1937, but a small temple still stands on the lake near the shore, accessible by a short bridge. Another scene features Ishiyama-dera temple in southern Otsu, which is also renowned for having a room where Murasaki Shikibu thought up the plan for some chapters of Tale of Genji.
The mountains around the lake offer extensive views. Mount Hira is a picnic spot. Mountain roads like the Oku-Biwako Parkway road up north and the Hiei-zan Driveway and Oku-Hiei Driveway overlooking the southwestern shore. In Ōtsu, the Ōtsu Prince Hotel's Top of Otsu restaurant provides views of the lake and city. The Michigan paddlewheel boat offers lake cruises.
Besides the natural environment, historical buildings and festivals persons rank among those of national importance. Shiga has 807 National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, that ranks the fourth large number in Japan. Shiga's most famous historical building is Hikone Castle, one of four national treasure castles in the country. The castle tower is well preserved and has many cherry trees. The neighboring city of Nagahama has tourism in addition to its hikiyama festival. Nearby shrines include Hiyoshi Taisha in Otsu and Taga-taisha in Taga, which respectively head the seventh and twentieth largest shrine networks in Japan, at about 4,000 shrines and 260 shrines, respectively.
Festivals include the hikiyama festival (floats parade festival), held in ten areas such as Nagahama, Otsu, Maibara, Hino and Minakuchi. The Nagahama hikiyama festival held each April is one of the three major hikiyama festivals in Japan and was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1979. During this festival ornate floats are mounted with miniature stages on which boys (playing both male and female roles) act in kabuki plays. Higashiomi (formerly Yōkaichi) city holds a Giant Kite Festival every May along the riverbank. Ordinary people are invited to pull the rope that sends the kites aloft.
Meishin Expressway, Shin-Meishin Expressway and Hokuriku Expressway pass through Shiga. National highway Route 1, 8, 21, 8, 161, 303, 306, 307, 365, 367, 421, 422 and 477 connect with neighboring prefectures. Two bridges span southern part of Lake Biwa.
With development of land transportation in the 20th century, waterborne transportation in Lake Biwa was disused except for steamer services to islands on the lake and pleasure boats.
Shiga has cooperative agreements with three states.
Banba-juku (番場宿, Banba-juku) was the sixty-second of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendō. It is located in the present-day city of Maibara, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.Hikone, Shiga
Hikone (彦根市, Hikone-shi) is a city located in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. It is on the eastern shore of the Lake Biwa. The city was incorporated on February 11, 1937.
As of October 1, 2016, the city has an estimated population of 113,349 and a population density of 580 persons per km². The total area is 196.84 km².
The key industries of Hikone are the manufacturing of butsudan, textiles, and valves. Bridgestone has a tire manufacturing plant here. Fujitec, Ohmi Railway, and Heiwadō (the largest supermarket chain in Shiga) are headquartered in Hikone.
In 2003, meetings were held to discuss the merger of Hikone with the towns of Toyosato, Kōra, and Taga (all from Inukami District). However, a survey conducted by the city in February 2004, revealed that most of the citizens opposed the merger, leading the city government to shelve the proposal for the time being.
Unlike in most parts of Japan, carrom is still popular here ever since it was introduced in the early 20th century.Hikone Castle
Hikone Castle (彦根城, Hikone-jō) is a Japanese Edo-period castle in the city of Hikone, in Shiga Prefecture. It is considered the most significant historical building in Shiga. Hikone is one of only 12 Japanese castles with the original keep, and one of only five castles listed as a national treasure.Hiyoshi Taisha
Hiyoshi Taisha (日吉大社, the same characters can be pronounced as Hie Taisha) is a Shinto shrine located in Ōtsu, Shiga, Japan. This shrine is one of the Twenty-Two Shrines. Hiyoshi Shrine (日吉大社, Hiyoshi taisha), also known as Hiyoshi jinja (日吉神社) or Hie jinja.
The West Hall of Worship (西本宮,, nishi hon-gū) and the East Hall of Worship (東本宮,, higashi hon-gū) have been designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs as National Treasures in the category shrines. This shrine heads the seventh largest shrine network in Japan, at about 4,000 shrines.Kashiwabara Station
Kashiwabara Station (柏原駅, Kashiwabara-eki) is a railway station in Maibara, Shiga Prefecture, JapanKita River
The Kita River is a river in Shiga Prefecture and Fukui Prefecture Japan.Kusatsu-juku
Kusatsu-juku (草津宿, Kusatsu-juku) was the fifty-second of the fifty-three stations of the Tōkaidō as well as the sixty-eighth of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendō. It is located in the downtown area of the present-day city of Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.MIO Biwako Shiga
For the club in Kusatsu, Gunma, see Thespa Kusatsu.MIO Biwako Shiga (MIO びわこ滋賀, Mīo Biwako Shiga) is a Japanese football club based in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, although they also play matches in Ōtsu and Konan.
They were promoted to Japan Football League for the first time at the end of 2007, and played their first season in 2008 where they finished 14th. "Biwako" is a reference to Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan.Maibara Station
Maibara Station (米原駅, Maibara-eki) is a railway station in Maibara, Shiga, Japan. It is the southern terminus of the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) Hokuriku Main Line, and the boundary of control between JR West and JR Central over the Tōkaidō Main Line.
The station opened on July 1, 1889. Since 1987, its main operator has been JR West, although JR Central administers the Shinkansen tracks.Miho Museum
The Miho Museum is located southeast of Kyoto, Japan, near the town of Shigaraki, in Shiga Prefecture. It is also the headquarters of Shumeikai, a new religious group founded by Mihoko Koyama.Moriyama-juku
Moriyama-juku (守山宿, Moriyama-juku) was the sixty-seventh of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendō. It is located in the present-day city of Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.Mount Ibuki
Mount Ibuki (伊吹山, Ibuki-yama) is a 1,377-metre-high (4,518 ft) mountain, on the border of Maibara, Shiga Prefecture, and Ibigawa, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, and is also included on the lists of the 100 Kinki Mountains and the 50 Shiga Mountains. Mount Ibuki is the highest mountain in Shiga Prefecture.Sakata Station (Shiga)
Sakata Station (坂田駅, Sakata-eki) is a railway station located in the city of Maibara, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.Samegai Station
Samegai Station (醒ヶ井駅, Samegai-eki) is a train station on the Tokaido Main Line in Maibara, Shiga, Japan, operated by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central).Shiga Lakestars
Shiga Lakestars (滋賀レイクスターズ) is a Japanese men's basketball team playing in the Western Conference of the B.League. They are based in the Shiga Prefecture.Yasu River
The Yasu River (野洲川, Yasu-gawa) is located in Shiga Prefecture, Japan; it is the largest river to flow into Lake Biwa. It rises from Mount Gozaisho and flows through Kōka, Konan, Rittō, Moriyama and Yasu. It forked at the lower reaches and made a delta region, but they were combined in 1979.Yodo River
The Yodo River (淀川, Yodo-gawa), also called the Seta River (瀬田川 Seta-gawa) and the Uji River (宇治川 Uji-gawa) at portions of its route, is the principal river in Osaka Prefecture on Honshū, Japan. The source of the river is Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture to the north.
The Yodo River, usually called the Seta River in Shiga Prefecture, begins at the southern outlet of the lake in Ōtsu. There is a dam there to regulate the lake level. Further downstream, the Seta flows into Kyoto Prefecture and changes its name to the Uji River, and then merges with two other rivers, namely the Katsura River and the Kizu River in Kyoto Prefecture. The Katsura has its headwaters in the mountains of Kyoto Prefecture, while the Kizu comes from Mie Prefecture. From the three-river confluence, the river is called the Yodo River, which flows south, through Osaka, and on into Osaka Bay. In Osaka, part of the river has been diverted into an artificial channel; the old course in the heart of Osaka is called the Kyū-Yodo River (literally, 'Former Yodo River').
It serves as a source of water for irrigation and also powers hydroelectric generators.Ōtsu
Ōtsu (大津市, Ōtsu-shi) is the capital city of Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Ōtsu is known as the main port of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. It briefly served as the capital of Japan from 667 to 672 AD during the Asuka period (538 – 710). The city is home to numerous sites of historical importance, notably the temples of Mii-dera, Ishiyama-dera, and Enryaku-ji and the Hiyoshi Taisha shrine. Enryaku-ji is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)". Ōtsu was incorporated as a town on April 1, 1889. In October 1, 1898, Ōtsu-town was officially changed to Ōtsu-city.
As of October 1, 2017, the city has an estimated population of 341,187 and a population density of 730 persons per km2. The total area is 464.51 km2 (179 sq mi).Ōtsu-juku
Ōtsu-juku (大津宿, Ōtsu-juku) was the last of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendō, as well as the last of the fifty-three stations of the Tōkaidō. It was 14 km (9 mi) from the previous post town, Kusatsu-juku, and was located in Ōmi Province. It is currently located in the present-day city of Ōtsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.