Shiga Prefecture Municipalities
by Philbert Ono
Being next to Kyoto, Shiga has many residents who commute to Kyoto from the southern cities such as Kusatsu, Moriyama, and Otsu.
Shiga also has the following regions: Kohoku (north of lake) which includes Maibara and Nagahama cities; Kosei (west of lake) which includes Takashima city; Koto (east of lake) which includes Higashi Omi , Hikone and Omi-Hachiman; and Konan (south of lake) which includes Otsu, Kusatsu, Moriyama, Ritto, Yasu, Konan, and Koka cities.
On Jan. 1, 2010, the six northern towns of Torahime, Kohoku, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai merged with Nagahama. On March 21, 2010, Omi-Hachiman and Azuchi merged.
- Higashi-Omi (東近江市) - One of Shiga's largest cities in area, Higashiomi boasts numerous sights. The symbol of the city is the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held on the last Sunday in May, Omi merchant homes in Gokasho, giant Notogawa waterwheel, and Hyakusaiji and Eigenji Temples which are National Treasures and famous for fall colors. Centering on the former city of Yokaichi, this city east of the lake was formed in 2005 through municipal mergers with neighboring towns Eigenji-cho, Gokasho-cho, Aito-cho, Koto-cho, Notogawa-cho, and Ryuou-cho. The later joining of Notogawa-cho finally gave the formerly landlocked city a lake shore. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Notogawa Station; Ohmi Railways Gokasho Station, Kawabe no Mori Station, Yokaichi Station, Nagatanino Station, Daigaku-mae Station, Kyocera-mae Station, Sakuragawa Station, Asahi Otsuka Station, Asahino Station, Shin-Yokaichi, Tarobogu-mae Station, Ichinobe Station, Hirata Station | Photos | Official site
- Hikone (彦根市) - One of Shiga's best known cities due to Hikone Castle, one of four castles in Japan designated as a National Treasure. It was home to the Ii Clan, most notably Lord Ii Naosuke, Chief Minister of the Tokugawa government, who helped open Japan to the West in the late 19th century. The castle overshadows all other attractions in Hikone which also has a number of noted temples. Genkyuen Garden is a castle garden next to Hikone Castle. Hikone Port has pleasure boats going to Chikubushima island (in Nagahama) and tiny Takeshima island off the shore of Hikone. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Hikone Station, Minami-Hikone Station, Kawase Station, Inae Station; Ohmi Railways Fujitec-mae Station, Toriimoto Station, Hikone Station, Hikone-guchi Station, Takamiya Station | Photos | Official site*
- Koka (甲賀市) - Very large, landlocked city in southeastern Shiga, with several distinct areas which were former towns who have merged to form Koka in Oct. 2004. Shigaraki is famous for Shigaraki pottery. Minakuchi is a former post town and castle town along the Tokaido Road. Minakuchi Castle has been partially rebuilt. Central Koka has two places for ninja fans: Ninja Village and Koga-ryu Ninjutsu House. And Tsuchiyama on the eastern end of the city is a former stage town on the Tokaido Road. Koka has numerous train stations along the Kusatsu Line and Ohmi Railways. Train stations: JR Kusatsu Line Kibukawa Station, Konan Station, Terasho Station, Koka Station, Aburahi Station; Ohmi Railways Minakuchi Matsuo Station, Minakuchi Station, Minakuchi Ishibashi Station, Minakuchi Jonan Station, Kibukawa Station; Shigaraki Kogen Railway Kibukawa Station, Shigarakigushi Station, Kumoi, Chikushi Station, Gyokukeiji-mae Station, Shigaraki | Photos | Official site
- Konan (湖南市) - This small, inland city includes Ishibe-juku which was a former post town on the Tokaido Road. The post town is replicated by the Ishibe Shukuba no Sato, an outdoor architectural museum showing typical buildings from the old days. Ishibe also has a trio of National Treasure temples collectively called "Konan Sanzan" (Konan's Temple Trio). They are Jorakuji Temple, Chojuji Temple, and Zensuiji Temple. The city was formed in 2004 upon the merger of Kosei-cho and Ishibe-cho towns. Train stations: JR Kusatsu Line Ishibe Station, Kosei Station, Mikumo Station | Photos | Official site
- Kusatsu (草津市) - A former stage town at the crossroads of the Nakasendo and Tokaido Roads leading to Kyoto. The city has a well-preserved Honjin lodge where feudal lords, emperors, and other VIPs (including Emperor Meiji) passing through town stayed during the feudal era. The city celebrates its post town past with the annual Kusatsu Shukuba Matsuri Festival on April 29 featuring a colorful daimyo procession. Kusatsu also has Karasuma Peninsula, the site of a large lotus pond and the Lake Biwa Museum and aquarium. A perfect place to learn more about the lake's history, ecology, and wildlife. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Kusatsu Station, Minami-Kusatsu Station; | Photos | Official site
- Maibara (米原市) - City best known nationally for Maibara Station, a major train station and transfer point on the Tokaido Line, Tokaido shinkansen line, Hokuriku Main Line, and Ohmi Railways in northern Shiga. Maibara is also home to Mt. Ibuki, Shiga's tallest mountain on the border with Gifu Prefecture. The old Nakasendo Road also passed through Maibara where you can find vestiges of old Nakasendo stage towns in Kashiwabara, Samegai, and Bamba. Mishima Pond is a bird-watching spot, also noted for cherry blossoms and views of Mt. Ibuki. The city was formed in 2005 through the merger of Maihara-cho, Santo-cho, Ibuki-cho, and Omi-cho towns. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Kashiwabara Station, Omi-nagaoka Station, Samegai Station, Maibara Station; JR Hokuriku Main Line Sakata Station; Ohmi Railways Maibara Station | Photos | Official site
- Moriyama (守山市) - Lakeside city and host to one end of the Biwako Ohashi Bridge spanning the neck of the lake's panhandle. The bridge goes to Katata in Otsu. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Moriyama Station | Photos | Official site
- Nagahama (長浜市) - Historic lakeside city anchoring northern Shiga. Popular with tourists, Nagahama has many sights easily accessible on foot from Nagahama Station. Near Lake Biwa is the reconstructed Nagahama Castle (local history museum), Hokoen Park noted for cherry blossoms and plum blossoms, and Kurokabe Square, a glassware shop. Central Nagahama also has a nice shopping arcade leading to the Hikiyama Float Museum and Daitsuji temple. Held in mid-April, the Hikiyama Festival is famous for young boys performing kabuki plays on ornate floats. Chikubushima island, in the middle of northern Lake Biwa, is also part of Nagahama and easily accessible by boat from Nagahama Port. The small island has a temple complex called Hogonji which includes National Treasures. In Feb. 2006, neighboring towns Azai-cho and Biwa-cho merged with Nagahama. On Jan. 1, 2010, the six northern towns of Kinomoto, Torahime, Kohoku, Nishi-Azai, Yogo, and Takatsuki merged with Nagahama. Train stations: JR Hokuriku Main Line Nagahama Station | Photos | Official site
- Omi-Hachiman (近江八幡市) - A former castle town and merchant town with many remnants of its historical past. The heart of the city is Hachiman-bori, a former castle moat and a short bus ride from Omi-Hachiman Station. Noted for cherry blossoms, the moat is next to Mt. Hachimanyama, site of the old castle and accessible by ropeway. Near Hachiman-bori are former Omi merchant homes along a side street called Shin-machi-dori. Also visit the Kawara Roof Tile Museum and Hakuunkan, an eye-catching Western-style building. The Sagicho Matsuri festival is also held in the Hachiman-bori area in mid-March. Away from the city center is a secondary lake called Lake Nishinoko famous for Suigo boat rides through the reeds, and Chomeiji temple for people praying for long life. The city was also home for missionary and architect William Merrell Vories (1880-1964) who came from Leavenworth, Kansas and designed many Western-style buildings in and outside the city. On March 21, 2010, Omi-Hachiman and neighboring Azuchi town merged. Azuchi is famous nationally as the site of Oda Nobunaga's Azuchi Castle after which the Azuchi-Momoyama Period of Japanese history is named. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Omi-Hachiman Station, Shinohara Station; Ohmi Railways Omi-Hachiman Station, Musa| Photos | Official site*
- Otsu (大津市) - Shiga's capital city occupying almost the entire southern shore of Lake Biwa. It thus has a very long lakeshore coast. Best known for important temples such as Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei, Ishiyama-dera, and Miidera. Adjacent to Kyoto. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Otsu Station, Zeze Station, Ishiyama Station, Seta Station; JR Kosei Line Nishi-Otsu Station, Karasaki Station, Hie-zan Sakamoto Station, Ogoto Station, Katata Station, Ono Station, Wani Station, Horai Station, Shiga Station, Hira Station, Omi-Maiko Station, Kita Komatsu Station; | Photos | Official site*
- Ritto (栗東市) - Landlocked city in the south, best known for the JRA horse-racing training grounds. Public tours of the facility are available. Ritto also has ancient burial mounds and a museum displaying related artifacts. In Oct. 2007, it was forced to give up building a new shinkansen station due to the lack of support from the prefecture. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Ritto Station; JR Kusatsu Line Tehara Station | Photos | Official site
- Takashima (高島市) - Another large, new city formed in 2005 upon the merger of Adogawa-cho, Imazu-cho, Shin Asahi-cho, Makino-cho, and Takashima-cho towns and Kutsuki-mura village all in the northwest corner of Shiga. The city stretches from the lake all the way up to the mountains. Imazu Port also has boats going to and from Chikubushima island. Train stations: JR Kosei Line Omi-Takashima Station, Adogawa Station, Shin-Asahi Station, Omi-Imazu Station, Omi-Nakasho Station, Makino Station | Photos | Official site*
- Yasu (野洲市) - Formed in Oct. 2004 through the merger of Chuzu-cho and Yasu-cho towns. Home to Shiga's Mt. Fuji named Mt. Mikami, alias Omi-Fuji. Kibogaoka Park is also huge and a great place to play and be with nature. Train stations: JR Tokaido Line Yasu Station | Photos | Official site
Towns and Villages
- Echi-gun (愛知郡)
- Gamou-gun (蒲生郡)
- Hino-cho (日野町) - Shiga's largest town in area is landlocked and surrounded by other cities such as Higashi-Omi and Koka. Hino merchant homes are one sight to see. Train stations: Ohmi Railways Hino Station | Photos | Official site
- Ryuo-cho (竜王町) - Little-known town with no train station, but a few temples and spring festivals make it a worthwhile visit. | Photos | Official site
- Inukami-gun (犬上郡)
- Kora-cho (甲良町) - Saimyoji Temple must be one of the best places in western Japan for fall colors. Buses leave often from the train station during Nov. Train stations: Ohmi Railways Amago Station | Photos | Official site*
- Taga-cho (多賀町) - Home of Taga Shrine, one of Shiga's most popular shrines especially during New Year's. Train stations: Ohmi Railways Taga Taisha-mae Station | Photos | Official site
- Toyosato-cho (豊郷町) - Gained national attention with the debate over razing the local primary school designed by American architect William Vories. Train stations: Ohmi Railways Toyosato Station | Photos | Official site
As of March 21, 2010, Shiga has 13 cities (-shi; 市), 6 towns (-cho; 町), and no villages (-mura; 村). This is less than half the number of municipalities before the Heisei Municipal Mergers when there were 7 cities, 42 towns, and 1 village in Shiga as of Sep. 30, 2001. Heisei Municipal Mergers between April 1, 1999 and March 21, 2010 are as follows:
- October 1: The towns of Chuzu-cho and Yasu-cho merged to form Yasu city. Yasu-gun was thereby dissolved.
- October 1: The towns of Kosei-cho and Ishibe-cho merged to form Konan city.
- October 1: The towns of Koka-cho, Minakuchi-cho, Shigaraki-cho, Tsuchiyama-cho, and Konan-cho merged to form Koka city. Koka-gun was thereby dissolved.
- January 1: All five towns and one village in the former Takashima-gun comprising Adogawa-cho, Imazu-cho, Shinasahi-cho, Makino-cho, and Takashima-cho towns and Kutsuki-mura village merged to form Takashima city. Takashima-gun was thereby dissolved.
- February 11: Yokaichi city and the towns of Eigenji-cho, Gokasho-cho, Aito-cho, and Koto-cho merged to form HigashiOmi city. Yokaichi and the four towns were thereby dissolved.
- February 14: Maihara-cho, Santo-cho, and Ibuki-cho towns in Sakata-gun merged to form Maibara city.
- October 1: Sakata-gun's remaining town of Omi-cho merge with Maibara, and Sakata-gun was thereby dissolved.
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|Municipalities of Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県|
|Cities & Towns: Aisho-cho | Higashi-Omi | Hikone | Hino-cho | Koka | Konan | Kora-cho | Kusatsu | Maibara | Moriyama | Nagahama | Omi-Hachiman | Otsu | Ritto | Ryuo-cho | Taga-cho | Takashima | Toyosato-cho | Yasu|
|愛荘町 | 東近江市 | 彦根市 | 日野町 | 甲賀市 | 湖南市 | 甲良町 | 草津市 | 米原市 | 守山市 | 長浜市 | 近江八幡市 | 大津市 | 栗東市 | 竜王町 | 多賀町 | 高島市 | 豊郷町 | 野洲市|
|Prefectures of Japan|
|Aichi | Akita | Aomori | Chiba | Ehime | Fukui | Fukuoka | Fukushima | Gifu | Gunma | Hiroshima | Hokkaido | Hyogo | Ibaraki | Ishikawa | Iwate | Kagawa | Kagoshima | Kanagawa | Kochi | Kumamoto | Kyoto | Mie | Miyagi | Miyazaki | Nagano | Nagasaki | Nara | Niigata | Oita | Okayama | Okinawa | Osaka | Saga | Saitama | Shiga | Shimane | Shizuoka | Tochigi | Tokushima | Tokyo | Tottori | Toyama | Wakayama | Yamagata | Yamaguchi | Yamanashi|