Maibara, Shiga

Maibara, Shiga (米原市; Maibara-shi)
Mishima Pond and Mt. Ibuki Mishima Pond and Mt. Ibuki. More Maibara photos here.
Map of Shiga with Maibara highlighted
Location Shiga Prefecture, Kinki region, Honshu island, JAPAN  
Population 38,507 (600 foreigners) (2021-02-01)
Area 223.1 km²
City Centers Maibara Station, Omi-Nagaoka, Samegai, Ibuki 
Major Sights Mt. Ibuki, Samegai Trout Farm, Mishima Pond 
Major Gateways JR Maibara Station (JR Tokaido Main Line, Tokaido Shinkansen
Train Stations Kashiwabara Station, Omi-Nagaoka Station, Samegai Station, and Maibara Station on JR Tokaido Main Line and Biwako Line; Sakata Station on JR Hokuriku Main Line; Maibara Station on Ohmi Railways 
Claim to Fame Maibara Station is a shinkansen train station and gateway to the Hokuriku region. Mt. Ibuki is Shiga's tallest mountain.
Products Ibuki soba, Ibuki milk, mogusa
Neighbors Nagahama, Hikone, Sekigahara (Gifu) 
Old Name(s) Maihara-cho, Ibuki-cho, Santo-cho, Omi-cho, Sakata-gun
Keywords Ibuki-yama, Maibara Station
Historical Persons Chiyo (wife of Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo)
Links Maibara Articles | Maibara Photos
Maibara Tourist Information
Location Maibara City Hall, Ibuki Branch
Phone 0749-58-1121 
Tourist Links City Tourism  
Int'l Association MMIA  
Volunteer Guides Webpage  
Maibara City Hall 米原市役所
Address 米原統合庁舎: 米原市米原1016 (New office next to Maibara Station)

山東庁舎: 〒521-0292長岡 1206
伊吹庁舎: 〒521-0392春照490-1
近江庁舎: 〒521-8601顔戸488-3

Phone/Fax 米原庁舎 (Maihara): 0749-52-1551
FAX: 0749-52-4447

山東庁舎 (Santo): 0749-55-2040
FAX: 0749-55-2406
伊吹庁舎 (Ibuki): 0749-58-1121
FAX: 0749-58-1630
近江庁舎 (Omi): 0749-52-3111
FAX: 0749-52-4858 

Official Site Japanese | English  
Symbols Flower:  --
Tree:  --
Bird:  --
Others:  Mt. Ibuki, Japanese firefly, ducks
Logo:  Katakana character for "Ma" マ
Sister Cities None

by Philbert Ono, Updated: Oct. 11, 2023

The Roof of Shiga

Maibara (米原市; Maibara-shi) is a city in northeastern Shiga Prefecture, Japan between Hikone and Nagahama.

Famous for:

  • Mt. Ibuki, Shiga Prefecture's highest mountain, one of Japan's 100 Famous Mountains (Hyaku-meizan), and part of the Yamato Takeru legend.
  • Maibara Station, Shiga's sole shinkansen station.
  • Nakasendo Road post towns (three), especially Samegai-juku.
  • Samegai Trout Farm, one of Asia's largest trout farms.
  • Field hockey. (Produced a number of Japanese field hockey Olympians.)

The west end of the city fronts Lake Biwa, the north borders on Nagahama, and the mountainous east side borders on Sekigahara, Gifu Prefecture. It is best known nationally for JR Maibara Station which is Shiga's one and only shinkansen bullet train station and one of Shiga's main gateways. Maibara Station is also a transfer point between the busy Tokaido Main Line and Hokuriku Main Line which goes to the Hokuriku region. It is also a terminal station for Ohmi Railways which goes mainly to Higashi-Omi. Maibara is right between Hikone and Nagahama cities.

Much of the city is still quite rural, with the population scattered over a wide area in former towns, most of them along the Tokaido Main Line. Even the area around Maibara Station is not highly developed, although it has the Freind Mart supermarket (the old Heiwado Dept. Store is gone) and the new Maibara City Hall.

The old Nakasendo Road also passes through Maibara where Kashiwabara, Samegai, and Banba were former post towns or stations called shukuba. Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu have all lodged at Kashiwabara-juku while they were traveling along the Nakasendo.

The northern area is anchored by Mt. Ibuki, the city's most prominent landmark and Shiga's tallest mountain. Being in northern Shiga, Maibara often sees snow in winter, especially in and around the Ibuki mountains. The Anegawa River and Amanogawa River empty into Lake Biwa, and about 70 percent of the city comprises forest land. The city thus boasts an abundance of water and greenery.

Maibara is also known as a field hockey powerhouse, having produced a number of field hockey Olympians. Field hockey in Maibara started in 1981 when the national sports meet named Biwako Kokutai (びわこ国体) was held and Ibuki-cho Town was selected to host the field hockey games. At the time, nobody in Ibuki knew about field hockey, but they succeeded in arousing local interest in field hockey. This interest in field hockey has continued till this day with some national champions and Olympians coming from Ibuki as well. Maibara also has a men's field hockey team named BlueSticks Shiga. The national sports meet will be held again in Shiga in 2025 and field hockey will be held in Maibara.

For the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Shiga Prefecture and Maibara were to be the host town for New Zealand's field hockey team. However, it sadly was canceled due to the pandemic.

One major issue that was recently at the forefront in Maibara (and Shiga) is the routing of the Hokuriku shinkansen's last leg to be built from Tsuruga (Fukui Pref.) to Shin-Osaka. Maibara and Shiga Prefecture wanted it to go through Maibara Station ("Maibara Route") instead of Obama (Fukui) or Maizuru (Kyoto) which were two other alternatives being considered by the railway company. However, in mid-Dece,ber 2016, it was announced that the Obama-Kyoto Route was selected. Although going through Maibara would be the cheapest and most cost-effective, JR favored going through Obama since it would offer lower fares and shorter travel times than the other proposed routes. Meanwhile, the Hokuriku Shinkansen will be extended to nearby JR Tsuruga Station in Fukui in March 2024.

As of April 1, 2021, Maibara had about 600 foreign residents. Chinese (29%), Vietnamese (28%), and Brazilians (25%) accounted for about 80 percent of them. Only 6% were Korean, 3% Filipino, and 9% other nationalities.


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Mishima Pond Mt. Ibuki in summer Tokugen-in
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Mt. Ibuki Ibuki-yama Taiko Drums Baikamo flowers
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Kazutoyo+Chiyo Samegai Trout Farm Suijo Hachiman Taiko Drum Dance
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Kashiwabara-juku Samegai-juku Banba-juku

More Maibara photos here.

  • Mt. Ibuki 伊吹山 - With an elevation of 1,377.4 meters, Mt. Ibuki is Shiga Prefecture's tallest mountain and popular for flower viewing and hiking in spring and summer and skiing in winter although the snow is not as good as before. A gondola and ski lifts carry you toward the top which affords fine views of Lake Biwa and the surrounding area. Going to the summit in summer is the best time when alpine flowers are in bloom, and short hiking trails make it very pleasant. It is one of Japan's 100 most famous peaks. The nearest station is Omi-Nagaoka Station from where local buses go to Mt. Ibuki. To reach the summit, take a bus from Sekigahara Station in neighboring Gifu taking you on the Ibuki-yama Driveway. To see what Mt. Ibuki looks like now (especially in winter with snow), see the live camera view provided by Maibara City Hall. Map
  • Mishima Pond 三島池 - A small pond with a view of Mt. Ibuki. Especially picturesque during cherry blossom season and winter with snow. Migratory ducks also flock to the pond. There is also a visitor's center showing the wildlife (especially birds) in the pond. Map
  • Samegai Trout Farm 醒井養鱒場 - Established in 1878 and operated by Shiga Prefecture, the Samegai Trout Farm is Asia's largest trout farm with many trout ponds. You can rent a fishing pole and fish for trout. There is also a shallow pond where children can try catch (and release) the trout. Riverside restaurants also serve fresh trout. Closest train station is JR Samegai Station on the JR Tokaido Line, but there's no public transportation to the trout farm from the train station. There are no taxis either. If you need a ride from Samegai Station, call Omi Taxi Co. at 0749-52-8200 and reserve a taxi at least 1 hour before you want to ride. It's a joint-use taxi, meaning there might be other people in the taxi with you. It also leaves every hour and half hour. The fare is ¥800 per person one way to the trout farm. Another option is to take a taxi from Maibara Station. The ride is longer and will be more expensive. Map
  • Nakasendo post towns - The Nakasendo was an old highway linking Kyoto with Edo (present-day Tokyo). The highway had 67 lodging towns (sometimes called "post towns") where travelers could lodge, rest, and take care of logistics like baggage and horses. These towns had inns (including the exclusive Honjin reserved for daimyo lords and other VIPs), teahouses, shops, and travel agents called toiya-ba. Woodblock artist Hiroshige made these towns famous with his woodblock prints. Shiga has ten former Nakasendo post stations. Three of them are in Maibara: Kashiwabara-juku, Samegai-juku, and Bamba-juku. Even today, you can see a few remnants of these old lodging towns.
    • Kashiwabara-juku 柏原宿 was the 60th post town (shukuba) of the 69 stations on the Nakasendo Road. It is the first Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Imasu-juku in Gifu). This quiet hamlet has worked to restore its post-town past with homes and buildings along the Nakasendo built or converted to the traditional style. Most of the homes fronting the old Nakasendo are traditional-looking. The most famous building is the Kameya shop (亀屋). It still makes Ibuki mugwort used for moxibustion. The shop is depicted in Hiroshige's print of Kashiwabara-juku. Inside is also the giant Fukusuke statue, another symbol of Kashiwabara-juku. The shop is not open to the public and the original Fukusuke statue is not publicly viewable either. Instead visit the Kashiwabara-juku History Museum showing various artifacts related to the post town. Another kilometer away is Kiyotaki Tokugen-in 清滝・徳源院, noted for fall leaves and the Kyogoku clan's graves. Nearby is the grave of Kitabatake Tomoyuki-kyo (1290-1332) who was a high-ranking Imperial Court official during the late Kamakura Period. Another noted temple is Jobodaiin where famous war lords (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, etc.) once stayed. Everything is within walking distance from JR Kashiwabara Station on the JR Tokaido Line. Map
    • Samegai-juku 醒井宿 was the 61st post town (shukuba) of the 69 stations on the Nakasendo Road. The main feature is the Jizogawa River, an exceptionally clear and clean river. In summer, the little baikamo flowers in the clear river attracts large crowds. Along the Nakasendo road is former Toiya-ba and a former post office designed by William Vories. Also explore the side streets where you might find one of Japan's 100 best natural springs: Isame-no-Shozu (居醒の清水). Toward the mountains is Samegai Trout Farm. Map
    • Bamba-juku 番場宿 was the 62nd post town (shukuba) of the 69 stations on the Nakasendo Road. It is the third Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Samegai-juku). No original shukuba buildings remain, but the sites of former shukuba buildings (including the Honjin) are marked with signs. The only exception is Rengeji Temple (蓮華寺), Bamba-juku's most prominent attraction. Pay a small admission to enter this impressive Jodo-shu Buddhist temple. Rengeji is famous as the place where security chief (Rokuhara Tandai) Hojo Nakatoki 北条仲時 and over 430 of his men committed suicide after being defeated by Ashikaga Takauji's forces during the fall of the Kamakura shogunate in 1333. Banba-juku also has Banba Museum (Bamba Shiryokan 番場資料館), a small museum that opened in June 2020 in the renovated home of sculptor Izumi Sukeyuki (泉亮之 1838–1920). The museum exhibits Izumi's sculptures and panels about Kamaha Castle. The stone statue of Yamato Takeru on the summit of Mt. Ibuki was sculpted by Izumi. Parking available. Bamba's closest station is Maibara Station and Samegai Station. Too far to walk from either station, so take a bus or taxi from Maibara Station. Map
  • Green Park Santo - Sports, exhibition, and lodging facilities adjacent to Mishima Pond. Near Omi-Nagaoka Station. Map
  • Amanogawa River - In June, fireflies come out at night. Parts of the river are designated as a protected areas for fireflies. Map
  • Mt. Ryozen 霊仙山 - At an elevation of 1084 meters, a popular mountain for hiking. Nearest train station is Kashiwabara Station. Map
  • Maibara City Hall 米原市役所 - New city hall opened next to Maibara Station (east exit) on May 6, 2021. The 4th floor has a nice rooftop terrace with great views of the station. Third floor has tourist info counter & activity room open to the public to hang out, study, etc. First floor has a gift shop.

Event Calendar

Ibuki Taiko Drum Dance held every 5 years at the foot of Mt. Ibuki.
  • Mid-Jan. to mid-Feb. - Kamo no Sato Bonsai Plum Tree Exhibition, beautiful miniature plum trees are exhibited at Green Park Santo. Map
  • Early Feb. - Oku Ibuki Snow Fight, a snow fight contest and Kamakura Igloo Festival. Festival may be canceled if there is a lack of snow. Map
  • April - Mishima Pond, cherry blossoms combine with the pond and Mt. Ibuki for a very picturesque scene. Map
  • April 29 - Sakata Shinmeigu Yakko-buri Procession 坂田神明宮の蹴り奴振り, Reenacts the procession of Lord Ii Naonobu from Hikone when he came to worship at Sakata Shinmeigu Shrine in 1733 in Maibara. The men walk with a stylized, kicking action. It starts with a Shinto ceremony which includes dancing by shrine maidens. Held annually by Sakata Shinmeigu Shrine at 2 pm near JR Sakata Station (Hokuriku Line). Map
  • May 3 - Nabe Kanmuri Festival, a parade of children wearing pot helmets. Map
  • June - Samegai Baikamo Flowers in Samegai, pretty little underwater flowers which bloom in Jizogawa River. Map
  • June - Santo Firefly Festival, Genji-botaru fireflies appear after dark along a river near Omi-Nagaoka. Map
  • Sept. - Suijo Hachiman Shrine Taiko Drum Dance 春照八幡神社 太鼓おどり, a colorful and unique rain-making and rain thanksgiving taiko drum dance held by Suijo Hachiman Shrine in Maibara every 5 years. Last held in 2009. It starts with a procession slowly proceeding along 1 km to Suijo Hachiman Shrine. They include yakko-furi samurai laborers, yamabushi ascetic priests, flutists, and taiko drummers. Map
  • Mid-Oct. - Maihara Hikiyama Festival 米原曳山まつり, held annually on the three-day weekend in Oct. around the 10th (Sports Day, a national holiday). Sunday is the main day. Maihara Hikiyama Matsuri has three ornate floats, but only one of them appears in the festival. The float features boys performing kabuki at few locations in the Maihara neighborhood of Maibara. Started in the 18th century, the Maihara Hikiyama Matsuri was inspired by the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri. All three floats used to appear every year, then only two, and now only one float due to the fewer kids. Held by Yutani Shrine. Map
  • Oct. - Asahi Honen Taiko Odori Dance 朝日豊年太鼓踊り, the area of Asahi in Maibara is home to the Asahi Honen Taiko drum troupe whose drum dance originated centuries ago to pray for rain. They perform their drumming and dancing after walking from Asahi to Hachiman Shrine. Map
  • Oct. - Ibuki-yama Taiko Dance 伊吹山太鼓踊 - Held at the foot of Mt. Ibuki in Maibara, in a settlement called Ueno where you board the gndola to go up Mt. Ibuki. Long ago, villagers in Ueno prayed for rain by doing the thunder dance by beating drums and bells, lighting torches, etc. Then after the rainfall and a good harvest in autumn, they danced in appreciation. This thanksgiving dance is now performed only once every five years as a local festival at a small shrine in Ueno. Map
  • Nov. - Tokugen-in Temple Fall Colors, Near Kashiwabara Station, this temple is painted with red and yellow leaves in Nov. Map

Travel Tips

  • If you like nature, visit Mt. Ibuki in spring and summer to see flowers, a few of them found only on Ibuki. Skiing is still possible in winter, but quantity and quality of the snow is not that good. Better to ski at Oku-Ibuki which is colder. Mishima Pond is most beautiful in winter when there is snow on Mt. Ibuki. It is also picturesque in spring for cherry blossoms. It is famous for migratory ducks. If you have kids, visit the Samegai Trout Farm where you can fish for trout or catch one with your bare hands in an open pool.
  • History buffs should visit former stage towns Samegai and Kashiwabara which both have a history museum. For fall colors, Tokugen-in Temple near Kashiwabara is among the best in Shiga.
  • Lodging is concentrated around Maibara Station and at the foot of Mt. Ibuki. However, more accommodations are offered in the the larger, neighboring cities of Hikone and Nagahama. Maibara is also close enough for day trips to major cities such as Gifu, Nagoya, and Kyoto.

Getting There

Official mascot
Maibara's official mascots: fireflies

By Train

The city is blessed with Maibara Station, its main train station which is also Shiga's one and only Tokaido Shinkansen station. The JR Tokaido Main Line, Biwako Line, Hokuriku Main Line, and Ohmi Railways also pass through Maibara Station, making Maibara easy to reach. The JR Tokaido Main Line has Kashiwabara Station, Omi-Nagaoka Station, Samegai Station, and Maibara Station. The Hokuriku Main Line has Sakata Station which is one stop from Maibara Station. Since it snows often in Maibara in winter, the trains and shinkansen might slow down or be delayed when passing through Maibara (especially between Sekigahara (Gifu) and Maibara Stations).

Wheelchair users and baby stroller users should be aware that Sakata (ramp only), Samegai, Omi-Nagaoka, and Kashiwabara Stations do not have elevators, escalators, or ramps.

Train Lines & Stations

Travel Time

By Bus

Nearest Airports

Getting Around

Maibara is served by three train lines and a local bus system. A community taxi service where passengers share a taxi is also available. Rental bicycles are available at Maibara Station (details below).

Wheelchair users and baby stroller users should be aware that Sakata (ramp only), Samegai, Omi-Nagaoka, and Kashiwabara Stations do not have elevators, escalators, or ramps.

By train

The JR Tokaido Main Line, Hokuriku Main Line and Ohmi Railways pass through Maibara. The major sights and destinations along Maibara's train stations are as follows:

JR Tokaido Main Line going from Tokyo toward Kyoto:

JR Hokuriku Main Line From Maibara Station going up north toward Fukui Prefecture.

  • Maibara Station - Tokaido shinkansen bullet train stop and where the Tokaido/Biwako Line and Hokuriku Line intersect. You can transfer to the Hokuriku Line to travel to Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama Prefectures. Maibara City Hall is also nearby. Heiwado Dept. Store is on the west side of the station.
  • Sakata Station 坂田駅 - A statue of Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo and Chiyo is nearby.

Ohmi Railways

By bus

At Omi-Nagaoka Station, the Mai-chan bus runs to Kozuhara.

Mai-chan bus schedule (in Japanese):

Maibara used to have the Kamon Bus, but it was abolished in Sept. 2008. Mai-chan community taxis (reservations required) have taken its place, but's mainly for local residents.

By bicycle

On Oct. 8, 2016, the Maibara Station Cycle Station opened in Maibara Station's east exit to rent out bicycles. They have about 60 bicycles of different types. Rental rates start from ¥3,500 per day (¥4,500 on weekends and holidays). For an additional fee of ¥2,500, you can drop off the rented bicycle at one of seven locations: Kinomoto Station (tourist Info office), Makino Station (Makino Bussankan), Oku-Biwako Makino Grand Park Hotel, Biwa Lake Otsuka (near JR Omi-Maiko Station), Otsu Prince Hotel, Giant Store Biwako Moriyama, Hikone Station (Cycle Station in AL Plaza). Hours: 9 a.m.–6 p.m., closed Wed. and from early Dec. to Feb. Also see Biwa-ichi Cycling Around Lake Biwa.


Click on upper right icon to enlarge.


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Pot Hat Festival Ibuki-yama Taiko Drums

More photos at Maibara Photo Gallery at PHOTOGUIDE.JP.


Click on the video image to start playing it.

More Shiga videos here.


  • 1878 Samegai Trout Farm (Samegai Yosonjo) is established.
  • 1889 Maibara Station opens.
  • 1927 On Feb. 14, a world record of 11m 82cm of snow falls on Mt. Ibuki.
  • 1931 Ohmi Railways Maibara Station opens.
  • 1955 Santo-cho and Omi-cho towns established upon the merger of neighboring villages.
  • 1956 Ibuki-cho and Maihara-cho towns established upon the merger of neighboring villages.
  • 1964 Maibara Station starts operating as a Tokaido Line shinkansen bullet train station.
  • 2005
    • February 14: Maibara is formed in 2005 upon the merger of Maihara-cho, Santo-cho, Ibuki-cho, and Omi-cho towns in Sakata-gun county which was subsequently dissolved.
    • Oct. 1: The adjacent town of Omi-cho merges with Maibara. Sakata-gun county, to which all these four former towns belonged, was then dissolved.
  • 2021
    • May 6: New Maibara City Hall opens next to Maibara Station (east side).
    • May 28: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay goes through Maibara from Maibara Station.

Additional Reading

More Maibara News here.



  • Maibara is the only city in Shiga which has no McDonald's. No family restaurants either. Neighboring cities Hikone and Nagahama have a few McDonald's and family restaurants.
  • The Shiga Prefectural Police Department has an Italian-made helicopter named "Ibuki."
  • The city's name was based on the name of Japan Railways' Maibara Station which many people in Japan know as a bullet train station on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
  • When Maibara Station started operating as a shinkansen bullet train station in 1964, it was the only bullet train station located in a town instead of a city (or Tokyo ward).
  • The bullet train station was originally planned to be built in the more populous city of Hikone, but it was too expensive and the plan was scrapped. Maibara turned out to be more convenient for people traveling to and from the Hokuriku region.
  • Mt. Ibuki, a symbol of Maibara and Shiga's highest mountain, also belongs to neighboring Gifu Prefecture. The mountain is accessible from Sekigahara in Gifu via a mountain road called Mt. Ibuki Driveway.

Famous People

From the Sakata area, wife of Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo during the 17th century.
Yamagata Hiro
Print artist from Samegai. At least one of his posters hang in the Maibara City Hall.

Side Trips

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

  • Hikone Castle - Hikone is 5 min. away from Maibara Station.
  • Nagahama Castle - Nagahama is 10 min. away from Maibara Station.
  • Ogaki Castle (Ogaki, Gifu) - Ogaki is about 20-30 min. from Maibara Station.
  • Sekigahara - Scene of one of Japan's most famous battles. About 15 min. from Maibara Station.

Maibara is also close enough for day trips to Gifu, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Fukui.

Related Articles

External Links

Municipalities of Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県
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