Nagahama, Shiga

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Nagahama, Shiga (長浜市; Nagahama-shi)
enter Nagahama Castle in April. More Nagahama photos here.
Map of Shiga with Nagahama highlighted
Google Map of Nagahama here.
Location Shiga Prefecture, Kinki region, Honshu island, JAPAN  
Population 125,905 (2010-08-01)
Area 539.48 km²
City Centers Nagahama Station, Kurokabe Square 
Major Sights Nagahama Castle, Kurokabe Square, Chikubushima, Lake Yogo, Mt. Shizugatake, Oku-Biwako Parkway, Hikiyama Festival 
Major Gateways JR Hokuriku Line Nagahama Station 
Train Stations JR Hokuriku Line Nagahama Station, Torahime Station, Kawake Station, Takatsuki Station, Kinomoto Station, Yogo Station, Omi-Shiotsu, Nagahara Station 
Claim to Fame Nagahama Castle, Mt. Shizugatake, Lake Yogo
Products Chirimen kimono
Neighbors Maibara, Takashima, Ibigawa-cho (Gifu) 
Old Name(s) Imahama, Biwa-cho, Azai-cho, Torahime-cho, Takatsuki-cho, Kinomoto-cho, Yogo-cho, Nishi-Azai-cho, Kohoku-cho
Keywords Nagahama-jo
Historical Persons Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ishida Mitsunari, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, Kobori Enshu, Kunitomo gunsmiths, Amemori Hoshu
Links Nagahama Articles | Nagahama Photos
Nagahama Tourist Information
Location 社団法人 長浜観光協会

〒526-8501滋賀県長浜市高田町12-34  Nagahama Station, 2nd floor

Phone 0749-62-4111 FAX.0749-64-0396 
Tourist Links Tourist Ass.  
Int'l Association None  
Volunteer Guides Tel: 0749-65-0370  
Nagahama City Hall 長浜市役所
Address 〒526-8501 滋賀県長浜市高田町12番34号

Takada-cho 12-34, Nagahama-shi, Shiga 526-8501 JAPAN

Phone/Fax 0749-62-4111 
Official Site Japanese | English  
Symbols Flower:  None
Tree:  None
Bird:  None
Others:  Nagahama Castle
Logo:  Logoshiganagahama.png
Sister Cities Augsburg,Germany; Verona,Italy; Wentworth,Australia; Nishino-omote, Kagoshima

Last updated Jan. 11, 2011

by Philbert Ono

Nagahama (長浜市; Nagahama-shi) is a city in northeastern Shiga Prefecture facing Lake Biwa.

Anchoring northern Shiga and a former castle town, central Nagahama has a lakeside castle (reconstructed) and noted temples and shrines. Pleasant place to walk around and shop. One of Shiga's most popular tourist destinations. Nagahama Port has boats going to Chikubushima island in Lake Biwa. Well known for the Hikiyama Festival in April where young boys perform kabuki plays on ornate floats.

Nagahama is a must-see for fans and history buffs of 16th-century warlords Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, and Ishida Mitsunari.

In Feb. 2006, neighboring towns Azai-cho and Biwa-cho merged with Nagahama. This made the small island of Chikubushima in the middle of Lake Biwa become part of Nagahama. More municipal mergers took place on Jan. 1, 2010 when Torahime, Kohoku, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai towns merged with Nagahama. Almost the entire northern Shiga region (Kohoku) is now part of Nagahama.

Thanks to the merger of the six towns, Nagahama is now Shiga's largest city in land area and has a very long list of varied and unique sightseeing attractions.

Sights

With six northern towns in Shiga merging with Nagahama on Jan. 1, 2010, the city now boasts a long list of sightseeing attractions. They are categorized in the areas below, following the JR Hokuriku Line going north from Nagahama Station. Also, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai are part of the Oku-Biwako area which is Shiga's northernmost area. Nagahama photos here.

Central Nagahama

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Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri Nagahama Castle Chikubushima
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Kurokabe Square Daitsuji temple Nagahama Bonsai Plums

Central Nagahama is one of Shiga's most popular tourist destinations. Most of the attractions in central Nagahama are within walking distance from JR Nagahama Station.

  • Kurokabe Square - In central Nagahama adjacent to the shopping arcade, a popular glassware shop housed in an old bank building with black walls called "kurokabe" in Japanese. It also has a glass workshop. Opened in 1989. With 2 million visitors annually, it is one of Shiga's most popular tourist spots.
  • Nagahama Castle 長浜城 - Nagahama Castle is a lakeside castle within a large park. The original castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century who lived in Nagahama Castle until 1582. The current castle tower was reconstructed in 1983. It serves as a local history museum. A short walk from Nagahama Station (west side).
  • Hokoen Park 豊公園 - Lakeside park where Nagahama Castle is located. Numerous cherry blossoms bloom in spring. The park is designated as one of Japan's 100 Best Cherry Blossom spots. Plum blossoms also bloom in March. Near JR Nagahama Station's west exit.
  • Chikubushima and Hogonji 宝厳寺 - Chikubushima is an island in the middle of northern Lake Biwa. The island has a large temple complex called Hogonji which includes buildings designated as National Treasures. Easily accessible by boat from Nagahama Port (and Imazu and Hikone Ports).
  • Daitsuji temple - Nagahama's most famous temple belongs to the Jodo Shinshu sect, Otani school. Impressive paintings on the sliding doors. Short walk from Kurokabe Square.
  • Nagahama Bonsai Plum Trees - Every Jan.-Mar., the Keiunkan, a former guesthouse, holds the Nagahama Bonbaiten exhibition of bonsai plum trees. The Keiunkan is near Nagahama Station's west exit, toward the south end.
  • Ishida Mitsunari Birthplace - Lord Ishida Mitsunari was born in 1560 in Ishida village in Shiga Pref. The area can be reached by bus from Nagahama Station. His birthplace and former residence have monuments dedicated to this fallen but revered leader of the Western Forces which lost to Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Take a bus from Nagahama Station and get off at Ishida bus stop. 長浜市石田町
  • Battle of Anegawa - Anegawa River was the site of a major battle with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu defeating Azai Nagamasa and the Asakura clan on Aug. 9 1570. The area was left with so many dead that the river ran red, and local place names such as Chibara (Blood Field) stuck. Take a bus from Nagahama Station and get off at Nomura-bashi 野村橋 bus stop.
  • Minamihama beach 南浜 - In summer, this beach in northern Nagahama might help you cool off. Or if you want to swim in an outdoor pool, the nearby Oku-Biwako Sports no Mori is the answer.

Torahime

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Gomura Betsuin temple Gyokusenji temple Seated Kannon Mt. Toragozen

Torahime is most famous for its unusual name. "Tora" means tiger, and "hime" means princess: Tiger Princess Town. Fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team in Osaka sometimes come to Torahime and pray for victory. There's even a Tiger Princess shrine at Torahime Station where you can pray for victory.

Torahime High School is also one of Shiga's oldest high schools and has one of Shiga's highest rates of college-bound students. A rural area with many rice paddies, Torahime is relatively flat with few mountains. Mt. Ibuki, Shiga's highest mountain in Maibara, can be seen from almost everywhere in Torahime. JR Torahime Station (5 min. from Nagahama Station) on the Hokuriku Main Line is the area's only train station. You can walk to most sights from the station. Google Map of Torahime here

  • Gomura Betsuin 五村別院 - Torahime's most noted sight and an Important Cultural Property is a Buddhist temple of the Jodo Shinshu Sect's Otani School (Higashi Hongwanji). The temple was founded in 1597 to welcome Kyonyo Shonin who was the founder of the Jodo Shinshi Sect's Otani School when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu gave him land in Kyoto in 1602 for his new temple known as Higashi Hongwanji. The Hondo main hall was reconstructed in 1730 and the front gate was built in 1674. Both structures are Important Cultural Properties. The temple also has Japan's only bronze statue of Kyonyo Shonin. Within walking distance from Torahime Station.
  • Gyokusenji 玉泉寺 - Buddhist temple of the Tendai Sect, commonly called Gansan Daishi, after the priest Gansan Daishi 元三大師 (912-985) whose birthplace is near the temple. Gansan Daishi entered the priesthood at age 17 on Mt. Hiei's Enryakuji temple. In 966, he became the 18th head priest of the Tendai Sect at Enryakuji. The current Hondo main hall was reconstructed in 1780.
  • Mt. Toragozen-yama - A series of low hills capped by camping bungalows. There a number of tumuli as well as Yaai Shrine for archery. Lookout point gives a great view of Torahime. Beautiful for cherry blossoms in spring. Easy hike to the top. Within walking distance from Torahime Station.
  • Maruyama Tumulus - A small ancient tumulus next to Torahime Jiyukan Hall. Near the foot of Mt. Toragozen-yama and within walking distance from Torahime Station.
  • Torahime Jiyukan 虎姫時遊館 - Adjacent to Maruyama Tumulus, Jiyukan is a cultural and exhibition hall with meeting rooms for rent and exhibition space. There is also a lounge where you can sit and rest. Tourist information also available. Near the foot of Mt. Toragozen-yama and within walking distance from Torahime Station.
  • Takawa River Culvert 田川カルバート - To prevent flooding from three rivers flowing through the town, a culvert was built in 1885 to direct the Takawa River to flow under another river called Kojigawa. The current culvert was rebuilt in 1966.

Kohoku Area

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Odani Castle Kohoku Waterfowl Park Sugatani Onsen Spa Hayasaki Naiko Biotope

The Kohoku area is accessible from Kawake Station on the JR Hokuriku Line.

  • Odani Castle - Odani Castle was originally built in 1524 atop Mt. Odani (495 m). The Azai clan called it home for three generations until they were defeated by Oda Nobunaga who bestowed the castle to Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi. However, Toyotomi built and occupied a castle in Nagahama, abandoning Odani. No buildings have survived, but there are many rock walls and foundations remaining. Odani Castle is most famous for Azai Nagamasa and wife Ichi (Oichi) who was Oda Nobunaga's younger sister. They had three daughters (Chacha, Hatsu, and Go) who went on to marry famous men, especially Go who married Tokugawa Hidetada and gave birth to Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun. They have been depicted in the NHK Taiga Drama, Go--Himetachi no Sengoku in 2011.
  • Kohoku Waterfowl Park 湖北町水鳥公園 - Kohoku town has a lake shore where birds gather. A convenient waterfowl observation center makes it easy to observe the birds. You can also see birds on Mt. Yamamoto-yama on the opposite side.
  • Hayasaki Naiko Biotope 早崎内湖ビオトープ - Hayasaki (Hayazaki) Naiko was an attached lake to Lake Biwa until it was filled in as reclaimed land in 1970. A number of attached lakes in Shiga were reclaimed to make rice paddies amid a shortage of food after the war. This has proven to be detrimental to Lake Biwa's ecology, and now Shiga wants to restore Hayasaki's reclaimed land back to an attached lake. In Nov. 2001, part of the land was flooded with water as an experiment, and the ensuing plant and wildlife were observed. Directly north of Oku-Biwako Sports no Mori along the lake shore.
  • Sugatani Onsen Spa - Small, rustic hot spring and inn in the mountains. You can dip in the hot brown water without having to stay at the inn.

Takatsuki

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Doganji (Kogenji) temple Kannon Folk History Museum Takatsuki Kannon-do Amenomori Hoshu-an

Nicknamed "Kannon no Sato" or Town of Kannon, Takatsuki has numerous Buddhist temples with noted Kannon statues, including one National Treasure in the 11-face Kannon statue at Doganji (Kogenji) Temple. The area is also the birthplace of Amenomori Hoshu (1668-1755), a major Confucian scholar during the mid-Edo Period. Takatsuki also has a number of ancient tumuli, especially on the mountain range along the lake shore, and a natural hot spring which includes an Egypt Pavilion. JR Takatsuki Station (15 min. from Nagahama Station) on the Hokuriku Main Line is the area's only train station. The west side of Takatsuki Station has a bus stop where you can ride the infrequent Community Bus to go to most places in the town. Taxis are always available on the east side of Takatsuki Station.

The east side of Takatsuki Station has an adjacent building called the Kohoku Den'en Kukan Hakubutsukan 湖北田園空間博物館. It houses a tourist info counter, tourist pamphlets, souvenir shop, gallery, restrooms, and chairs and tables to rest. This is where you can rent a bicycle (500 yen per day) as well. Hours: 9:00-18:00, closed Tue. Phone: 0749-85-6565 Google Map of Takatsuki here

If you want to see anything beyond walking distance, renting a bicycle is recommended. Local van-type buses are available from Takatsuki Station, but they run infrequently. On certain days, such as weekends, Kannon temple bus tours operate. Call tourist info (in Japanese) for tour dates/times: 0749-85-6565 or 0749-85-6405

  • Kogenji (Doganji) temple 渡岸寺観音堂(向源寺) - Takatsuki's most famous temple and home of the 11-face Kannon statue, a National Treasure and symbol of Takatsuki. It is very impressive and pacifying to look at. Photography is not allowed. The temple belongs to the Buddhist Jodo Shinshu Sect (Otani school). Admission to see the Kannon statue is 300 yen. Open 9 am - 4 pm. 10-min. walk from Takatsuki Station. Parking available. Appointment is not necessary to see the Kannon statue. There are other Kannon temples but they may require an appointment to view the Kannon statue. Consult the tourist info counter about visiting those temples. (Kogenji is always open and does not require an appointment.) Web page
  • Amenomori Hoshu-an 東アジア交流ハウス雨森芳洲庵 - Built in 1984 and also called the East Asia Exchange House. Museum dedicated to Amenomori Hoshu (1668-1755), a Confucian scholar and leading diplomat to Korea during the Edo Period while based in Tsushima island, Nagasaki. He was born in Amenomori, Takatsuki and worked under the Tsushima clan in Nagasaki on Tsushima island near the Korean peninsula. Proficient in Chinese and Korean, he was a leading diplomat for Japan-Korea relations and pioneer in Korean-Japanese relations and an internationally-minded person ahead of his time. The museum occupies the site where Amenomori Hoshu's house once stood. It exhibits artifacts, books, documents, etc., related to Amenomori Hoshu. Admission 250 yen. Hours: 9 am - 4 pm, closed Mon. Phone: 0749-85-5095
  • Nishino Water Tunnel 西野水道 - At the foot of the mountain near Lake Biwa in western Takatsuki. There are three water tunnels close to each other. The original one was built in 1845 by priest Esho from Jumanji temple and fellow villagers to alleviate frequent flooding in the area. It took 6 years to dig through the mountain for about 220 meters. The tunnel drained excess water to Lake Biwa. The tunnel is no longer used, and you can walk through it with rubber boots, flashlight, and hard hat. It is pitch black and cramped. However, the second tunnel is large enough to walk through, and the third tunnel has Yogo River flowing through it.
  • Nishino Yakushido Kannon-do Hall (Jumanji temple) 西野薬師観音堂 - In western Takatsuki. Noted for two Kannon statues which are Important Cultural Properties. One is an 11-face Kannon statue and the other is a Yakushi Nyorai statue. This is one of the most noted Kannon temples in Takatsuki. The temple's 11th priest, Esho 恵荘, was the one who engineered the Nishino Water Tunnel in 1845. Appointment required to see the Kannon statue. Call 090-8938-6369 in Japanese before you go.
  • Kitaoumi (Kita-Omi) Resort and Egypt Pavilion - Hot spring facility, restaurants, unusual bicycles, and an Egypt Pavilion brought over from the 2005 Aichi Expo in Sept. 2006. The Egypt Pavilion contains realistic replicas of many Egyptian artifacts. Admission 500 yen. Admission to the Kita-Omi-no-Yu hot spring bath is 900 yen on weekdays and 1200 yen on weekends. Hours: 10:00-17:00, closed 1st and 3rd Tue. Phone: 0749-85-8888 Web site
  • Deai-no-Mori Public Library - The 1st floor is a public library, and the 2nd floor has the Inoue Yasushi Memorial Room. Inoue (1907-1991) was a famous novelist who visited Takatsuki a lot and wrote novels featuring Takatsuki's Kannon statues. Part of a lush, green park. 10-min. walk from Takatsuki Station. Hours: 10 am - 6 pm, closed Mon., Tue., national holidays, and year end/New Year's.
  • Okaido Ruins 大海道遺跡 - Slightly north of Amenomori is the site where the ruins of numerous Yayoi-Period homes and canals and artifacts were found. Two sample Yayoi-Period structures stand in a small park. This adobe is pretty much a hole in the ground with a thatched roof over it. 15-min. by taxi from Takatsuki Station.
  • Yanmar Kaikan Public Hall ヤンマー会館 - One of the town's distinctive buildings in a Gothic-style in Higashi Atsuji. It's not a tourist attraction, but when you see it, you'll may wonder what it is. (Therefore it is mentioned here.) The building was built and donated by Yamaoka Magokichi, founder of Yanmar Co. who was from this area. Next to the building is a monument marking Magokichi's birthplace.

Kinomoto

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View of Lake Biwa View of Lake Yogo Kinomoto Jizo-in

The Kinomoto area is best known for Mt. Shizugatake which provides grand views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. It was also the site of the Battle of Shizugatake where Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Shibata Katsuie. Kinomoto-juku was also a lodging town on the Hokkoku Kaido Road linking the Hokuriku region with Kyoto and Edo. Kinomoto also has its share of noted Kannon temples. A new and spacious Kinomoto Station building was completed in 2007. The Kinomoto area is accessible from JR Kinomoto Station on the Hokuriku Main Line (15 min. from Nagahama Station). There is a tourist information counter in the train station where you can obtain maps and rent bicycles.

  • Mt. Shizugatake 賤ヶ岳 - Provides grand views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. One of Shiga's most scenic spots. A chair lift (400 yen one way or 760 yen round trip) from the foot of the mountain takes you near the summit. After getting off the chair lift, climb up about 300 meters to the summit. The summit has a few lookout decks where you can see a grand view of Lake Biwa, Lake Yogo, and Kinomoto town. Closest train station is Kinomoto Station on the JR Hokuriku Line. Buses run from Kinomoto Station to near the chair lift. The bus stop is right outside the train station. Take a bus bound for Sugaura (菅浦) or Shindono (新道野). Get off at Ooto (大音) and walk toward the mountain. You can see the chair lift cutting through the mountain. then go up the chair lift (operates April-Nov., 9 am - 5 pm). Buses run infrequently (check schedule here). It's possible to walk, but it will take a good 40 min. Or take a taxi for a 4-min. ride, costing about 1,020 yen. From the Shizugatake summit, there are hiking trails to Lake Yogo and Yamamoto-yama. One trail to Lake Yogo goes along the mountain ridge and will take 2 hours. Another trail is shorter (1.5 km) going down to the Yogoko-so Kokuminshuku lodge. You can then walk along Lake Yogo to Yogo Station. Shizugatake was the battleground between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie in 1583. Shizugatake chair lift Web site here.
  • Kinomoto Jizo-in 木之本地蔵院 - Real name is Joshinji temple (浄信寺). A short walk from Kinomoto Station, it's along the old Hokkoku Kaido road going to the Hokuriku region. Noted for a giant statue of Jizo, one of Japan's three largest Jizo statues. The temple also has a few statues designated as Important Cultural Properties.
  • Hokkoku Kaido Road 北国街道 - This old road linked the Hokuriku region with the Kinki region and was Kinomoto-juku's main street. It also includes the place where Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo's wife Chiyo bought a fine horse for her husband. There are signs along the road indicating where the Honjin and the horse selling area were.
  • Kannon temples - Kinomoto, along with other neighboring towns, have a number of temples with noted Kannon statues. They include Kuroda Kannon-ji 黒田観音寺 and Shakudoji 石道寺. Ask for a map at the tourist info counter in the train station.

Yogo

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Lake Yogo Swan maiden Lake Yogo
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Chawan Matsuri Chawan Matsuri Chawan Matsuri no Yakata Museum

Yogo is Shiga's northern-most area approaching Tsuruga Bay in neighboring Fukui Prefecture. Most residents and visitors confine themselves to southern Yogo where Lake Yogo is. Mountainous and often beset with snow, the area has a major asset in Lake Yogo, a small but scenic lake right above Lake Biwa. Yogo has only one train station, JR Yogo Station on the Hokuriku Main Line. A very quiet and scenic area to get away from it all. There are a few lodges where you can stay. Google Map of Yogo here

  • Lake Yogo 余呉湖 - Small but scenic lake north of Lake Biwa. You can walk or bicycle around the lake's 6.4-km perimeter. Bicycles can be rented from Yogo Station. There is a road going completely around the lake. On foot, it takes about an hour to walk around Lake Yogo (without snow). If there is snow, the road on only the west side of the lake is cleared. The lake area is 1.82 square km, and the deepest point is 13 meters. The lake's elevation is 49 meters higher than Lake Biwa into which it empties via Yogo River. On the southern end of the lake is a Yogoko-so, an inexpensive lodge where you can also eat lunch. Lake Yogo is also the site of Japan's oldest Swan Maiden (Hagoromo Densetsu 羽衣伝説) folktale. A white swan lands on the lake and transforms into a beautiful heavenly maiden. A man sees her and falls in love. He hides her clothes, preventing her from returning to heaven. She ends up marrying the man with whom she has children. But she later finds her clothes and returns to heaven. There are various versions of this tale for Lake Yogo (and all over Japan). In June, hydrangeas bloom along the lake.
  • Mt. Shizugatake 賤ヶ岳 - Provides grand views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. One of Shiga's most scenic. Take a bus from Kinomoto Station, then go up the chair lift (operates March-Dec., 9 am - 5 pm). There are also hiking trails to Lake Yogo. The mountain was the battleground between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie in 1583. You can also hike up the mountain from Lake Yogo.
  • Chawan Matsuri 茶わんまつり is a procession of three floats and display of sacred dances held in May once every several years (last held in 2009). The floats have 10-meter high "balancing act" decorations that seem to defy gravity as they do not collapse and fall down. The festival was started by local potters offering their teacups to the shrine in appreciation for their earth and pottery skills.
  • Woody Pal Yogo ウッディパル余呉 - Recreational campground with log cabins, tennis courts, hiking trails, and ski grounds.

Nishi-Azai

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Sugaura shore Oku Biwako Parkway Nagahara Station

Occupying the northern-most shore of Lake Biwa, Nishi-Azai was formerly a bustling port town on the lake for over 1,000 cargo boats (called maruko-bune) plying between the north and south of the lake during the Edo Period. It was part of a trade route between the Hokuriku region and Kyoto/Osaka. Logging and fishing used to be the area's main industries, but it now mainly manufacturing. With the advent of train lines replacing the boats, Nishi-Azai is now a quiet and scenic area along the lake. A foot path along the shore is pleasant and scenic.

Nishi-Azai has two train stations: Omi-Shiotsu on the JR Hokuriku Main Line and Nagahara on the JR Kosei Line. Omi-Shiotsu (22 min. from Nagahama Station) is a transfer station for the Hokuriku Main Line and Kosei Line. You can rent a bicycle at Nagahara Station and ride along the lake shore toward Sugaura. Or ride in the opposite direction toward Makino in Takashima during which you will pass by Kaizu-Osaki noted for cherry blossoms. You can drop off the rented bicycle at Makino Station instead of riding back to Nagahara Station. The lakeshore road is flat and scenic for cycling in either direction (toward Sugaura or Makino). Buses leave Nagahara Station and Omi-Shiotsu Station for places of interest with an infrequent schedule. Google Map of Nishi-Azai

  • Maruko-bune no Yakata boat museum 丸子船の館 - The town's symbol is the maruko-bune wooden boat which was a common sight on the lake in the old days before trains came to fore. Both sides of the boat were attached with a round log cut in half, hence the name "maruko" which means round log. A small museum is dedicated to this boat. Nagahara Station is the nearest train station. Open 9am-5pm, closed Tue. Museum Web site.
  • Sugaura - Sugaura is a small settlement along the northern shore of Lake Biwa. It is a very scenic area with a nice lakeshore road and hiking/cycling trail almost to the tip of the peninsula. After passing through Sugaura from the west end, go all the way through the town until you reach the west end (thatched-roof gate). Beyond that is as hiking trail along the lake shore leading to a small lookout hut. Sugaura has a small thatched-roof gate, called Shisokumon 四足門 on the east and west ends which were used to monitor outsiders entering the village.
  • Oku Biwako Parkway 奥琵琶湖パークウェイ - Scenic mountain road (18.8 km) on a peninsula in northern Shiga Prefecture providing great views of Lake Biwa. There is a scenic lookout at the top of the mountain. Closed in winter due to snow.

Event Calendar

  • Jan. 9-11 - Toka Ebisu 十日えびす - Burning of New Year's decorations and mochi tossing. This is at Hokkoku Shrine in Nagahama.
  • Jan.-March - Okonai オコナイ procession is held in northern Shiga in various neighborhoods for a rich harvest during the coming year. A few men carry thick straw ropes and parade around. "Okonai" means "to do your utmost."
  • Around Jan. 10 - Toka Ebisu 十日えびす - Burning of New Year's decorations and mochi tossing. This is at Hokkoku Shrine in Nagahama.
  • Jan. 10 to Mar. 10 - Nagahama Bonsai Plum Trees 長浜盆梅展 At the Keiunkan, a former guesthouse, holds the Nagahama Bonbaiten exhibition of bonsai plum trees. The Keiunkan is near Nagahama Station's west exit, toward the south end. A similar exhibition is also held in Azai.
  • Mar. 15: Gyokusenji Nehan-e (Torahime) 玉泉寺 涅槃会 - To mark the anniversary of Buddha's death, a memorial service is held at Gyokusenji temple and good fortune mochi is tossed to worshippers.
  • April 5: Mizuhiki Shrine Grand Spring Festival (Torahime) 水引神社 春の大祭 - Small shrine dedicated to the Takawa River Culvert holds a spring festival.
  • Early April: Kannon-no-Sato Spring Festival (Takatsuki) 観音の里 春まつり is held at Kogenji temple. Mochi throwing, mochi grilling and other activities. Call 0749-85-6405.
  • Mid-April - Nagahama Hikiyama Festival 長浜曳山祭り - Nagahama's most famous festival featuring authentic kabuki plays performed by boys in mid-April. Several ornate floats on wheels serve as the stage for talented young actors.
  • Early May (Golden Week): Koinobori Marathon (Takatsuki) 高時川こいのぼりマラソン is held along the river while carp streamers fly. There is the Family Course (3 km) and Enjoy Course (8 km). Call 0749-85-3078.
  • May 4, every 5-6 years - Niu Chawan Matsuri (Yogo) 茶わんまつり is a procession of three floats and display of sacred dances. The floats have 10-meter high "balancing act" decorations that seem to defy gravity as they do not collapse and fall down. The festival was started by local potters offering their teacups to the shrine in appreciation for their earth and pottery skills.
  • 3rd Sun. in May: Oku Biwako Kenko Marathon (Nishi-Azai) 奥びわ湖健康マラソン Three marathon courses of 1.5 km, 5 km, and 15 km. Registration required.
  • Late July or early Aug.: Nishi-Azai Suiun Matsuri (Nishi-Azai) 西浅井水運まつり - Canoe marathon, souvenir shops, fireworks, and other activities at Oura Gyokuchi Koen Park,
  • Aug. 5 - Nagahama Kita-Biwako Fireworks 長浜・北びわ湖大花火大会 is held at Nagahama Port. It can get very crowded since the port area is not a very large space.
  • First Sun. in Aug.: Kannon-no-Sato Furusato Festival (Takatsuki) 観音の里ふるさとまつり is held at Kogenji temple. The town's biggest summer festival. Food and souvenir stalls and fireworks. A bus tour of 22 Kannon temples is also offered. Call 0749-85-6405.
  • Aug. 5-10: Gomura Betsuin Summer Service (Torahime) 五村別院 夏中法要 - Memorial services and sermons held at the temple.
  • Aug. 7: Gyokusenji Gansan Daishi Water-changing Ritual (Torahime) 玉泉寺 元三大師水替え行事 -
  • Aug. 16: Chanchako Matsuri (Nishi-Azai) ちゃんちゃこ祭 held at Shimo-Shiotsu Shrine. Centers on a taiko drum dance lasting until the evening.
  • Aug. 22-25: Kinomoto Jizo Festival 地蔵縁日 attracts many people to the temple lined with food stalls.
  • Aug.-Sept.: Tomyo Lantern Festival (Torahime) 灯明祭 - Lanterns decorate the shrines and temples as a prayer of thanks for a rich harvest and family safety.
  • Sept. 13: Moroko Festival (Takatsuki) もろこまつり is held at 乃伎多神社. Children in costume pray for the town's safety and a rich harvest.
  • Oct. - Nagahama Kimono Gathering 長浜きもの大園遊会 長浜出世まつり has 1,500 young women in kimono decorating central Nagahama. They all later gather at Daitsuji temple for a drawing of valuable prizes such as overseas trips.
  • Oct. 28-31: Gomura Betsuin Hoonko Service (Torahime) 五村別院 報恩講 - The most important Buddhist service in the Jodo Shinshu Sect. It is to express thanks to St. Shinran (1173-1262), founder of the Jodo Shinshu Sect.
  • Dec. 5: Mizuhiki Shrine Grand Autumn Festival (Torahime) 水引神社 春の大祭 - Small shrine dedicated to the Takawa River Culvert holds an autumn festival.

Travel Tips

  • There is a tourist info office in Nagahama Station, 2nd floor.
  • Most places of interest such as Nagahama Castle and Kurokabe Square are within walking distnce from Nagahama Station. Other places like the Kunitomo Gun Museum and Ishida Mitsunari Birthplace can be reached by bus fro Nagahama Station.
  • Nagahama Port (boat cruises to Chikubushima) is also within walking distance from Nagahama Station.
  • Rental bicycles available near Nagahama Station. Ask tourist office in Nagahama Station for directions. (Bicycle drop-off OK at Sakata Station or Kawake Station). Rental bicycles also at Kawake, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nagahara Stations.
  • The Nagahama International Friendship Association is in a nice wooden building with clean and low-cost accommodations.

Getting There

By Train

The Hokuriku Main Line and Biwako Line runs through Nagahama, and Nagahama Station is the main station and gateway. Nagahama has more train stations further north along the Hokuriku Line.

Train Lines & Stations

Travel Time

By Bus

Nearest Airports

Getting Around

Most sights in central Nagahama are within walking distance from Nagahama Station. Other places can be reached by bus. Rental bicycles also available. Inquire at the tourist info office in Nagahama Station. Train stations further north along the JR Hokuriku Line make Torahime, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai (Omi-Shiotsu and Nagahara Stations) easily accessible.

Maps

Google Map is annotated in English.


View Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture in a larger map

Photos

nh226-20090415_2768.jpg ch134-20090410_9052p.jpg
Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri Hokoen Park in spring, as seen from Nagahama Castle

More photos at Nagahama Photos. More Shiga photos here.

Videos

Click on the video image to start playing the video. More Shiga videos here.

Side Trips

Other sights in neighboring cities/towns within easy reach from Nagahama.

  • Maibara (Mt. Ibuki)
  • Hikone

History

  • 1882 The Hokuriku Railroad opens, diminishing the importance of lake transport maruko-bune boats from Nishi-Azai.
  • 1889
    • Torahime village founded on April 1.
    • Nagahara Village and Shiotsu Village are established.
    • Kinomoto becomes a village.
    • Yogo village is established.
  • 1918 Kinomoto village becomes a town.
  • 1940 Torahime town founded on Dec. 10.
  • 1943 City of Nagahama established upon the merging of Nagahama town and neighboring villages.
  • 1952 The present Nagahama City Hall is built.
  • 1954
    • Azai-cho town established upon the merging of four villages.
    • Takatsuki town founded in Dec. upon the merging of three villages.
    • Kinomoto town merges with three neighboring villages.
    • Yogo village merges with two other villages.
  • 1955 Nagahara Village and Shiotsu Village merge to form Nishi-Azai Village.
  • 1956 Biwa village established upon the merging of two villages.
  • 1965 Maruko-bune boats completely disappear from Lake Biwa. The history of cargo transport on the lake ends after over 1,000 years.
  • 1971
    • Biwa village becomes a town.
    • Nishi-Azai Village becomes a town.
    • Yogo-mura village becomes Yogo-cho town.
  • 1984 Amenomori Hoshu-an museum opens in Takatsuki.
  • 2006
    • February 13: Neighboring towns Azai-cho and Biwa-cho merge with Nagahama.
    • October 14: The new Nagahama Station opens.
    • The new Kinomoto Station is completed.
  • 2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Kurokabe Square and Chikubushima with Governor Yukiko Kada as the guide.
  • 2010 Shiga's six northern towns of Torahime, Kohoku, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai merge with Nagahama on Jan. 1, 2010.

Miscellaneous

Recent News

The latest five headlines for Nagahama from Shiga News are displayed below. Click to view the latest stories.

Shiga News - Nagahama

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More Nagahama News here.

Nagahama articles in The Japan Times.

Trivia

  • In front of Nagahama Station is a statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi meeting a young Ishida Mitsunari at Kannon-ji temple. Hideyoshi was doing falconry and took a break at the temple where Mitsunari served Hideyoshi three cups of tea. The first cup was a large bowl of lukewarm tea to quench Hideyoshi's thirst. The second cup of tea was a medium-size cup and medium hot. The third cup was a small cup of hot tea so Hideyoshi could taste the tea. This so impressed Hideyoshi that he hired Mitsunari on the spot.
  • Built in 1952, the current Nagahama City Hall is too small and too weak to withstand a strong earthquake. So proposals are being made to build a new city hall on the site of the old Nagahama Hospital which is almost across the street. The population of Nagahama is estimated to increase to 170,000 by 2015, assuming that the northern towns of Torahime-cho, Kohoku-cho, Takatsuki-cho, Kinomoto-cho, Yogo-cho, and Nishi-Azai-cho will merge with Nagahama, along with the neighboring city of Maibara. Since the mergers are not yet certain and the money for constructing the new city hall has not been secured, it's still a long way before a new city hall can be built.

Famous People

Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Famous warlord and founder of Nagahama and who renamed Imahama as Nagahama.
Ishida Mitsunari
Vassal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and later leader of the unsuccessful Western Forces at the Battle of Sekigahara against Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600. Nagahama was his hometown.
Yamauchi Kazutoyo
Lord of Nagahama Castle.
Azai Nagamasa 浅井 長政 (1545-1573)
Warlord who ruled northern Omi in the 16th century from Odani Castle. Married to Oda Nobunaga's sister Oichi, but fought against Nobunaga. Defeated at the Battle of Anegawa River by Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1570. His Odani Castle was beseiged by Nobunaga in 1573, and he committed seppuku ritual suicide in the castle. His wife Oichi and three daughters were allowed to return to Nobunaga.
Kobori Enshu 小堀遠州(1579-1647)
Warrior famous for Japanese tea ceremony, landscape gardening, and architecture.
Kunitomo Ikkansai 国友一貫斎 (1778-1840)
Matchlock gunsmith.
Ochiai Kentaro 落合謙太郎 (1870-1926)
Native of Biwa-cho and diplomat who was present at the Russo-Japan Peace Conference at Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1905 where Russia and Japan signed a peace treaty. Among the Japanese delegation, which incuded Japanese Ambassador to the US Kogoro Takahira and Japanese Foreign Minister Jutaro Komura, Ochiai was the only one who could speak Russian. Also served as ambassador extraordinary in Italy and Holland.
Amenomori Hoshu 雨森芳洲 (1668-1755)
Major Confucian scholar and leading diplomat to Korea during the Edo Period. Born in Amenomori village in Takatsuki, Hoshu first studied medicine in Kyoto. Later he moved to Edo (Tokyo) where he studied Confucianism under Confucian scholar Kinoshita Jun'an 木下 順庵. He was hired by the Tsushima clan in Nagasaki and was put in charge of Korean relations at age 22. Tsushima was an island domain close to Korea which had trade relations with Korea. Tsushima was put in charge by the Tokugawa shogunate to handle Korean relations. At age 25, Hoshu learned Chinese. At age 36, he lived and studied Korean in Pusan for 3 years during 1702-1705. He even wrote a book to teach basic Korean conversation. Hoshu rightly believed that language represented the culture, and learning the language was thus essential to understand the country. He also traveled with the Korea's royal embassy dispatched from Korea to Edo in 1711 and 1719. Hoshu today is regarded as a pioneer in Korean-Japanese relations and an internationally-minded person ahead of his time. The East Asia Exchange House Amenomori Hoshu-an Museum 東アジア交流ハウス雨森芳洲庵 in Amenomori, Takatsuki, Shiga is dedicated to him and Japanese-Korean relations. He is buried in Tsushima, Nagasaki.
Nishino Esho 西野恵荘 (1778-1849)
Buddhist priest from Jumanji temple (Nishino Yakushido) who engineered and built the Nishino Suido water tunnel through the mountain to Lake Biwa to relieve flooding. It took 6 years to build the tunnel.
Yamaoka Magokichi 山岡孫吉 (1888-1962)
- Native of Takatsuki in northern Shiga and founder of Yanmar Diesel Co. At age 24, established Yamaoka Hatsudoki Seisakusho 山岡発動機工作所, the forerunner of Yanmar Diesel Co., now called Yanmar Co. In 1933, he developed the world's first compact diesel engine.
Gansan Daishi 元三大師 (912-985)
Buddhist priest of the Tendai Sect born in Mikawa, Torahime. Gyokusenji temple is built near his birthplace in Torahime. Entered the priesthood at age 17 on Mt. Hiei's Enryakuji temple. In 966, he became the 18th head priest of the Tendai Sect at Enryakuji. He renovated the dilapidated temple buildings, and promoted education and scholarship on Mt. Hiei. Since he died on Jan. 3, he has been called "Gansan" (3rd of the New Year). He also is noted for omikuji fortunes.


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