Difference between revisions of "Shiga Prefecture Transportation"

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by [[Philbert Ono]], Updated: Feb. 22, 2022
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by [[Philbert Ono]], Updated: May 15, 2022
 
[[File:20180114-Screen-Shot.jpg|thumb|700px|right|Shinkansen passing by Mt. Ibuki in winter in Maibara.]]
 
[[File:20180114-Screen-Shot.jpg|thumb|700px|right|Shinkansen passing by Mt. Ibuki in winter in Maibara.]]
 
== Getting to Shiga Prefecture ==
 
== Getting to Shiga Prefecture ==
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Trains are the most convenient way to get to Shiga Prefecture. There are long-distance buses (mainly from Tokyo) which are cheaper than trains, but they do not run so often. However, long-distance buses to [[Nagoya Station]] run quite often and you can take a local train to Shiga from there. There are no airports in Shiga. The nearest international airports are [https://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/english/ Kansai International Airport] in Osaka and [https://www.centrair.jp/en/ Central Japan International Airport] in [[Aichi Prefecture]].
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For people coming from Tokyo or Nagoya, Shiga Prefecture is on the way to Kyoto, so trains (including the shinkansen) and buses to Shiga are convenient. From other locations such as Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa, other major train lines can bring you here. Long-distance buses (mainly from Tokyo) are cheaper than trains, but take more time. From Tokyo, one option to save costs is to take a shinkansen or long-distance bus to [[Nagoya Station]], then take a local train into Shiga. There are no airports in Shiga. The nearest international airports are [https://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/english/ Kansai International Airport] in Osaka and [https://www.centrair.jp/en/ Central Japan International Airport] in [[Aichi Prefecture]].
  
No smoking in trains, train stations, buses, and bus terminals. Shinkansen trains are also entirely non-smoking. However, most have small rooms for smokers. Eating and drinking are normally allowed, but during the pandemic, passengers are being asked to refrain from eating unless you're sitting with no strangers near you.
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Smoking is prohibited in trains, train stations, buses, and bus terminals. Shinkansen trains are also entirely non-smoking. However, most have small rooms for smokers. Eating and drinking are normally allowed, but during the pandemic, passengers are being asked to refrain from eating unless you're sitting with no strangers near you.
  
 
==== By train ====
 
==== By train ====
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== Getting Around Shiga by Train==
 
== Getting Around Shiga by Train==
 
[[File:20191201 3959.jpg|thumb|400px|right|Maibara Station staff provide a ramp for wheelchair users.]]
 
[[File:20191201 3959.jpg|thumb|400px|right|Maibara Station staff provide a ramp for wheelchair users.]]
Travel within Shiga is easy via [[JR]] Lines, private railways, local city buses, bicycle, and taxis. There is at least one train station in almost all cities and towns in Shiga. It is possible to travel around Lake Biwa entirely by train with the JR [[Tokaido Main Line]] and [[Hokuriku Main Line]] on the eastern side and the scenic [[Kosei Line]] along the western shore. However, since it is not a loop line, at least two train transfers (at [[Yamashina Station]] and [[Omi-Shiotsu Station]]) will be necessary along the way. Train runs along the heavily-traveled [[Tokaido Main Line]] (also called [[Biwako Line]] between Nagahama and Kyoto) are frequent, and less frequent along the [[Kosei Line]] along the western shore.
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Travel within Shiga is easy via [[JR]] Lines, private railways, local city buses, rental bicycles, and taxis. There is at least one train station in almost all cities and towns in Shiga. However, keep in mind that Shiga is largely rural, so trains and buses are much less frequent than urban areas. A train or bus can be infrequent like once an hour or less. Or the last train/bus run might be sooner than you expect. It's a slow life in Shiga, so you need to slow down. Be sure to check the train/bus schedule before traveling anywhere via public transportation. Smartphone app like Japan Transit Planner is helpful.
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It is possible to travel around Lake Biwa entirely by train with the JR [[Tokaido Main Line]] and [[Hokuriku Main Line]] on the eastern side and the scenic [[Kosei Line]] along the western shore. However, since it is not a loop line, at least two train transfers (at [[Yamashina Station]] and [[Omi-Shiotsu Station]]) will be necessary along the way. Train runs along the heavily-traveled [[Tokaido Main Line]] (also called [[Biwako Line]] between Nagahama and Kyoto) are frequent, and less frequent along the [[Kosei Line]] along the western shore.
  
 
On the east side is the JR [[Kusatsu Line]] shooting off from [[Kusatsu Station]] until it reaches Mie Prefecture. Also in eastern Shiga, the private [[Ohmi Railways]] serve a few cities such as [[Maibara, Shiga|Maibara]], [[Hikone, Shiga|Hikone]], [[Higashi-Omi, Shiga|Higashi-Omi]], [[Taga-cho, Shiga|Taga]], and [[Koka, Shiga|Koka]]. Be aware that Ohmi Railways trains are slow and not that frequent. On weekends (Fri., Sat., Sun., and national holidays), the "One Day Smile Ticket" is only 820 yen and valid to ride on Ohmi Railways all day. A good deal if you plan to ride the Ohmi Railways train at least twice. Also, during non-rush hours (9 am - 4 pm), you can bring your bicycle aboard the train.
 
On the east side is the JR [[Kusatsu Line]] shooting off from [[Kusatsu Station]] until it reaches Mie Prefecture. Also in eastern Shiga, the private [[Ohmi Railways]] serve a few cities such as [[Maibara, Shiga|Maibara]], [[Hikone, Shiga|Hikone]], [[Higashi-Omi, Shiga|Higashi-Omi]], [[Taga-cho, Shiga|Taga]], and [[Koka, Shiga|Koka]]. Be aware that Ohmi Railways trains are slow and not that frequent. On weekends (Fri., Sat., Sun., and national holidays), the "One Day Smile Ticket" is only 820 yen and valid to ride on Ohmi Railways all day. A good deal if you plan to ride the Ohmi Railways train at least twice. Also, during non-rush hours (9 am - 4 pm), you can bring your bicycle aboard the train.

Latest revision as of 19:14, 16 May 2022

by Philbert Ono, Updated: May 15, 2022

Shinkansen passing by Mt. Ibuki in winter in Maibara.

Getting to Shiga Prefecture

For people coming from Tokyo or Nagoya, Shiga Prefecture is on the way to Kyoto, so trains (including the shinkansen) and buses to Shiga are convenient. From other locations such as Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa, other major train lines can bring you here. Long-distance buses (mainly from Tokyo) are cheaper than trains, but take more time. From Tokyo, one option to save costs is to take a shinkansen or long-distance bus to Nagoya Station, then take a local train into Shiga. There are no airports in Shiga. The nearest international airports are Kansai International Airport in Osaka and Central Japan International Airport in Aichi Prefecture.

Smoking is prohibited in trains, train stations, buses, and bus terminals. Shinkansen trains are also entirely non-smoking. However, most have small rooms for smokers. Eating and drinking are normally allowed, but during the pandemic, passengers are being asked to refrain from eating unless you're sitting with no strangers near you.

By train

JR Tokaido Line passing through Maibara.

Two shinkansen bullet train stations serve as the main gateways to Shiga: Maibara Station in northern Shiga and Kyoto Station in neighboring Kyoto. Cities in southern Shiga like Otsu and Kusatsu are a short train ride from Kyoto. To visit western Shiga, Yamashina Station in neighboring Kyoto or Omi-Shiotsu Station in northern Shiga is where you get on the JR Kosei Line.

The main train lines going to Shiga Prefecture are the Japan Railways (JR) Tokaido Shinkansen, JR Tokaido Line (also called Biwako Line in Kyoto/Shiga), JR Kosei Line, and JR Hokuriku Line. From the east (Tokyo, Nagoya, etc.), take the Tokaido Shinkansen or JR Tokaido Line. From the west (Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, etc.), take the Sanyo Shinkansen, Tokaido Shinkansen, or JR Tokaido Line (also called Biwako Line. From the Hokuriku Region (Toyama, Kanazawa, Fukui, etc.), take the Hokuriku Main Line. Details below.

The Tokaido Shinkansen has three different trains called Kodama, Hikari, and Nozomi. The train fare is the same, but the number of stations they stop at differ. Kodama trains stop at every shinkansen station so the travel time is the longest. Hikari trains stop at fewer stations, and Nozomi trains stop only at major train stations. Only the Kodama and some Hikari trains stop at Maibara Station. Nozomi trains do not stop at Maibara Station. All Tokaido Shinkansen trains stop at Kyoto Station. Note that the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on Nozomi trains.

From Kyoto, you can go to Kyoto Station and catch the JR Tokaido Line (also called Biwako Line to visit southern (Otsu, Kusatsu, Koka, etc.) or eastern Shiga (Hikone, Nagahama, etc.) To visit western Shiga (Katata, Takashima, Imazu, etc.), take the JR Kosei Line. Also, the Tozai subway line (Sanjo-Keihan Station, etc.) goes to Keihan Yamashina Station where you transfer to the Keihan Keishin Line for Biwako Hama-Otsu Station (Otsu Port). Biwako Hama-Otsu Station enables you to transfer trains to visit Ishiyama-dera temple, Miidera temple, Omi Jingu Shrine, and Sakamoto.

Travel times:

On the map, click on the upper right icon to view the larger map and an alphabetical list of all the train stations and boat ports in Shiga.

By bus

If you don't have a Japan Rail Pass or if you want to save money, long-distance buses are an economical way to travel in Japan. They pick up and drop off passengers at or near major train stations. There are a number of bus companies to choose from. Generally, JR Bus, affiliated with Japan Railways, is the most expensive, but the most convenient since their bus terminals are right at the train stations. Other bus companies are forced to pick up and drop off passengers at some distance away (10-15 min. walk) from the train stations.

Only Willer Express stops at train stations in Shiga Prefecture. From Tokyo, they have buses stopping at Hikone Station, Kusatsu Station, Minami-Kusatsu Station, and Kyoto Station. The buses to Shiga usually run overnight, leaving Tokyo at around 10:30 pm and arriving in the early morning around 5:30 or 6:30 am. The bus fare is around 4,000 to 7,000 yen depending on the day of the week (more expensive on weekends), season, and bus type. Their Web site is also in English.

An alternative would be to take a long-distance bus to Nagoya Station or Kyoto Station, then take a local train to Shiga. There are many more bus runs to both stations, including daytime runs. You would also have more bus companies to choose from, although Willer Express is the only one with an English Website as of this writing. From Tokyo (Shinjuku Station), it takes 5.5 or 6 hours to arrive at Nagoya Station (less than 2 hours via shinkansen). The bus makes two toilet stops at rest areas along the Tomei Expressway. Be aware that traffic conditions and highway accidents can delay the bus.

From the airport

Getting Around Shiga by Train

Maibara Station staff provide a ramp for wheelchair users.

Travel within Shiga is easy via JR Lines, private railways, local city buses, rental bicycles, and taxis. There is at least one train station in almost all cities and towns in Shiga. However, keep in mind that Shiga is largely rural, so trains and buses are much less frequent than urban areas. A train or bus can be infrequent like once an hour or less. Or the last train/bus run might be sooner than you expect. It's a slow life in Shiga, so you need to slow down. Be sure to check the train/bus schedule before traveling anywhere via public transportation. Smartphone app like Japan Transit Planner is helpful.

It is possible to travel around Lake Biwa entirely by train with the JR Tokaido Main Line and Hokuriku Main Line on the eastern side and the scenic Kosei Line along the western shore. However, since it is not a loop line, at least two train transfers (at Yamashina Station and Omi-Shiotsu Station) will be necessary along the way. Train runs along the heavily-traveled Tokaido Main Line (also called Biwako Line between Nagahama and Kyoto) are frequent, and less frequent along the Kosei Line along the western shore.

On the east side is the JR Kusatsu Line shooting off from Kusatsu Station until it reaches Mie Prefecture. Also in eastern Shiga, the private Ohmi Railways serve a few cities such as Maibara, Hikone, Higashi-Omi, Taga, and Koka. Be aware that Ohmi Railways trains are slow and not that frequent. On weekends (Fri., Sat., Sun., and national holidays), the "One Day Smile Ticket" is only 820 yen and valid to ride on Ohmi Railways all day. A good deal if you plan to ride the Ohmi Railways train at least twice. Also, during non-rush hours (9 am - 4 pm), you can bring your bicycle aboard the train.

Wheelchair accessibility

Wheelchair users and baby stroller users should be aware that many train stations in Shiga do not have elevators, escalators, or ramps, especially in rural areas. The larger train stations (Otsu, Maibara, Nagahama, etc.) and newer stations are wheelchair accesssible. However, Shiga still has many old and rural train stations without ramps or elevators. Many of the smaller stations are not even staffed. (No one to help you get on/off the train.)

On JR lines in Shiga, the following stations are not wheelchair accesssible as of this writing: Horai, Shiga, Hira, Omi-Maiko, Kita-Komatsu, Omi-Nakasho, Makino, Nagahara, Omi-Shiotsu, Kawake, Torahime, Tamura, Sakata, Samegai, Omi-Nagaoka, Kashiwabara, and Ishibe.

On Ohmi Railways, about half of all stations are not wheelchair accesssible. However, since most stations are on the ground level, they do not require long up/down stairs.

At the larger train stations, staff will assist wheelchair users with a ramp to get on/off the train. Request assistance at the ticket office.

Train Lines

Shiga's train lines and train stations and nearby major sights and facilities are as follows.

JR Biwako Line and Tokaido Main Line (琵琶湖線・東海道線)

JR Biwako Line at Minami-Kusatsu Station going to Nagahama.
Tokkyu Limited Express trains also pass through Shiga. This is the Shirasagi express train running between Nagoya and Kanazawa via the Hokuriku Line stopping only at major stations. Another Limited Express train named Thunberbird runs between Osaka and Kanazawa via Kosei Line.

The Tokaido Main Line (nicknamed the Biwako Line along the section between Kyoto Station and Nagahama Station) is the most heavily-traveled train line in Shiga passing through the most heavily populated areas of the prefecture east of Lake Biwa. These are the train stations on this line in Shiga:

Going from east (Tokyo) to west (Kyoto):

  • Kashiwabara Station (柏原駅) - The station after Sekigahara Station in Gifu. A former stage town on the Nakasendo Road. A local history museum, Tokugen-in Temple, and Kitabatake grave.
  • Omi-Nagaoka Station (近江長岡駅) - Gateway to Mt. Ibuki and Mishima Pond. Bicycle rental at Green Park Santo (accessible by bus).
  • Samegai Station (醒ヶ井駅) - Former stage town on the Nakasendo Road. Famous for the Samegai Trout Farm and baikamo underwater river flowers in sumer.
  • Maibara Station (米原駅) - 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.
  • Hikone Station (彦根駅) - One of Shiga's major cities and tourist bases with Hikone Castle, Hikone Port (for Chikubushima), and shrines and temples.
  • Minami-Hikone Station (南彦根駅) - Viva City shopping center and movie theaters.
  • Kawase Station (河瀬駅) -
  • Inae Station (稲枝駅) -
  • Notogawa Station (能登川駅) - Giant water wheel is the town's symbol, and the station's facade is also partially shaped like a water wheel. Bicycle rental at the station.
  • Azuchi Station (安土駅) - Rent a bicycle and cycle to Azuchi Castle ruins, House of Nobunaga, and the archeaological museum. Bicycle rental in front of the station.
  • Omi-Hachiman Station (近江八幡駅) - Another major tourist base with Hachiman-yama mountain for great views of the city and Lake Biwa, Suigo boat rides, Hachiman-bori moat which is the historical part of town, and buildings by the American architect Vories. Bicycle rental at the station.
  • Shinohara Station (篠原駅) - Bicycle rental at recreational grounds Imose no Sato (雪野山史跡広場妹背の里) (0748-57-1819) until 5 pm.
  • Yasu Station (野洲駅) - Mt. Mikami, Hyozu Taisha Shrine, and rice-planting festival in May. Bicycle rental at the south exit (Minami-guchi) at the Yasu Tourist Office (077−587−3710) until 5 pm (closed Mon.).
  • Moriyama Station (守山駅) - Another stage town on the Nakasendo Road with noted shrines and temples mostly on the west side (toward the lake) of the station. The east side has little. Bicycle rental at the tourist office (077−514−3765) at the west exit until 7:30 pm. Also bicycle rental at Laforet Biwako (phone: 077-584-2180), a hotel on the lakeshore (accessible by bus from the station).
  • Ritto Station (栗東駅) - Daiho Shrine is nearby on the west side of the station.
  • Kusatsu Station (草津駅) - A former stage town on the Nakasendo Road. The Kusatsu-juku Honjin is a marvelous example of the luxury accomodations used by feudal lords and emperors when they traveled in the old days. Tourist info booth near the turnstile. Bicycle rental (phone: 077−565-9052) at east exit street level.
  • Minami-Kusatsu Station (南草津駅) -
  • Seta Station (瀬田駅) - By bus, go to the "Bunka Zone" (Culture Zone) that has a Japanese garden, the Shiga Prefectural Library, and the The Museum of Modern Art, Shiga.
  • Ishiyama Station (石山駅) - Ishiyama-dera Temple is a must-see and the Seta River and Seta Karahashi Bridge are also historic places. Ishiyama is also a Keihan streetcar stop which cuts through Otsu.
  • Zeze Station (膳所駅) - Zeze Castle ruins. Also near to Otsu's shopping area.
  • Otsu Station (大津駅) - Shiga's capital and a city with many important temples and shrines such as Enryakuji Temple, Ishiyama-dera Temple, Omi Jingu Shrine, Gichuji Temple (where Haiku poet Basho is buried), and a nice lakeshore. After major renovations, the Otsu Station building reopened on Oct. 1, 2016 with a 60-bed capsule hotel (geared for foreign tourists), multilingual tourist information center, free rental bicycles, five restaurants, and an outdoor terrace and event space.

JR Hokuriku Main Line (北陸本線)

JR Hokuriku Line at Omi-Shiotsu Station.

From Maibara Station going up north toward Fukui Prefecture.

  • Maibara Station (米原駅) - 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. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Sakata Station).
  • Sakata Station (坂田駅) - A statue of Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo and Chiyo (born in Maibara) is nearby. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Maibara Station or Nagahama Station). Ride bicycle to Omi Haniwa Museum and Hinade Shrine.
  • Tamura Station (田村駅) - Near Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology and Nagahama Dome.
  • Nagahama Station (長浜駅) - A beautiful, new station building opened in Oct. 2006. A major city and tourist base with Nagahama Castle, Nagahama Port for boat cruises to Chikubushima, Daitsuji Temple, and shopping. Tourist info booth at Ibukiyama/Heiwado exit. Bicycle rental near the station (drop-off OK at Sakata Station or Kawake Station).
  • Torahime Station (虎姫駅) - Country town with the historic Gomura Betsuin Temple. Bicycle rental at the station.
  • Kawake Station (河毛駅) - Visit Odani Castle on a mountaintop. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Nagahama Station or Takatsuki Station).
  • Takatsuki Station (高月駅) - Best known for the 11-faced Kannon statue, a National Treasure, at Kogenji Temple. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Kawake Station or Kinomoto Station).
  • Kinomoto Station (木ノ本駅) - A new station building was opened in 2006. Take a bus to Mt. Shizugatake where you can ride the lift up the mountain during the warmer months. Great view of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Takatsuki Station or Yogo Station).
  • Yogo Station (余呉駅) - Lake Yogo visible from the station is a small scenic lake north of Lake Biwa. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Kinomoto Station or Omi-Shiotsu Station).
  • Omi-Shiotsu Station (近江塩津駅) - Mainly a transfer point between the Hokuriku LIne and Kosei Line. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Yogo Station or Nagahara Station on Kosei Line).

JR Kosei Line (湖西線)

JR Kosei Line train at Omi-Maiko Station.
Inside a typical JR train. Seats do not rotate to change their orientation. The seat backs are instead pushed back or forth in the travel direction. Passengers do it at the start of the line if necessary. Seats next to the doors have fixed backs. Windows cannot be opened. Sun shades are provided.

This train line runs on the west side of the lake. Be aware that this train line is sometimes adversely affected by strong winds coming down from the Hira mountains in the background. Strong winds can suspend train operations on the Kosei Line.

Going from Kyoto/Yamashina to northern Shiga:

  • Yamashina Station (山科駅) - In Kyoto. Transfer point between the Kosei Line, Tokaido Main Line, and Kyoto subway.
  • Otsukyo Station (大津京駅) - Formerly called Nishi-Otsu Station. The station's name was changed on March 15, 2008. Omi Jingu Shrine, Ojiyama Kofun Tumulus
  • Karasaki Station (唐崎駅) - Karasaki Jinja Shrine (Karasaki Pine)
  • Hie-zan Sakamoto Station (比叡山坂本駅) - Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Saikyoji Temple, Hiezan Sakamoto Cable Car to Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei. Rental bicycles at nearby Sakamoto Station (Sakamoto Tourist Association office) on the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line.
  • Ogoto Onsen Station (おごと温泉駅) - Formerly called Ogoto Station. The station's name was changed on March 15, 2008. Ogoto Spa is nearby.
  • Katata Station (堅田駅) - Ukimido Floating Temple, Biwako Ohashi Bridge (west end)
  • Ono Station (小野駅) - Bicycle rental at station (drop-off OK at Kita Komatsu Station).
  • Wani Station (和邇駅) - Wani-hama Beach
  • Horai Station (蓬莱駅) - Horai-hama Beach
  • Shiga Station (志賀駅) - Katsuragawa Keikoku Gorge, Biwako Valley
  • Hira Station (比良駅) - Hira mountains
  • Omi-Maiko Station (近江舞子駅) - Shiga's most popular beach is Omi-Maiko where many Kyotoites also come in the summer. Omatsuzaki
  • Kita-Komatsu Station (北小松駅) - Yobai no Taki Falls, Hira Genkimura. Bicycle rental at station (drop-off OK at Ono Station).
  • Omi-Takashima Station (近江高島駅) - Shirahige Jinja Shrine (torii in lake), Haginohama Beach, Omizo Castle, Otomegaike Pond, Ireland Koryukan Village. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Adogawa Station).
  • Adogawa Station (安曇川駅) - Biwako Kodomo no Kuni, Yomeien Garden. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Shin-Asahi Station, Omi-Imazu, or Omi-Takashima Station).
  • Shin-Asahi Station (新旭駅) - Shin Asahi Windmill Village. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Omi-Imazu Station or Adogawa Station).
  • Omi-Imazu Station (近江今津駅) - Imazu-ko Pier (boat to Chikubushima island), Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum, Biwako Shuko no Uta song monument, Imazu Vories Shiryokan museum, Mt. Hakodate-yama. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Makino Station, Shin-Asahi Station, or Adogawa Station).
  • Omi-Nakasho Station (近江中庄駅) -
  • Makino Station (マキノ駅) - Makino Sunny Beach, Kaizu Osaki coast. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Nagahara Station or Omi-Imazu Station).
  • Nagahara Station (永原駅) - Marukobune no Yakata museum, Ranta no Yakata, Haraobi Kannon Temple. Bicycle rental at the station (drop-off OK at Makino Station).
  • Omi-Shiotsu Station (近江塩津駅) - Transfer station for JR Kosei Line and Hokuriku Line. Catch another train south to Nagahama/Maibara or north to Tsuruga/Fukui.

JR Kusatsu Line (草津線)

JR Kusatsu Line train at JR Kusatsu Station.

The line runs from Kusatsu Station to Tsuge Station in Mie Prefecture, with stations in Kusatsu, Ritto, Konan, and Koka.

  • Kusatsu Station (草津駅) - Transfer point between the Kusatsu Line and Tokaido Line. A former stage town on the Nakasendo Road. The Kusatsu-juku Honjin is a marvelous example of the luxury accomodations used by feudal lords and emperors when they traveled in the old days. Tourist info booth near the turnstile. Bicycle rental (phone: 077−565-9052) at east exit street level.
  • Tehara Station (手原駅) - Near Ritto City Hall and Mt. Anyoji. Also near the site of the new Tokaido shinkansen station proposed to be built.
  • Ishibe Station (石部駅) - Former Ishibe-juku stage town on the Tokaido Road linking Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. Also Jorakuji Temple and Chojuji Temple are reachable by bus. Bicycle rental at the station (inside the Community House).
  • Kosei Station (甲西駅) - Zensuiji Temple and Konan City Hall are nearby. Bicycle rental at station.
  • Mikumo Station (三雲駅) -
  • Kibukawa Station (貴生川駅) - Transfer point for Ohmi Railways and Shiga Kogen Railways.
  • Konan Station (甲南駅) - Bicycle rental at station.
  • Terasho Station (寺庄駅) - Bicycle rental at the station.
  • Koka Station (甲賀駅) - Ninja train station. Take a bus to the Koka Ninja Village. Bicycle rental at station.
  • Aburahi Station (油日駅) - Bicycle rental at the station.
  • Tsuge Station (柘植駅) - In Iga, Mie Prefecture. Transfer to the Kansai Main Line.

Ohmi Railways (近江鉄道)

The private Ohmi Railways operate three lines in the interior of eastern Shiga, centering on Higashi-Omi. Its main train stations are Maibara Station, Hikone Station, Omi-Hachiman Station, Yokaichi Station, and Kibukawa Station. Ohmi Railways trains are slow and not that frequent. On weekends (Fri., Sat., Sun., and national holidays), the "One Day Smile Ticket" is only 820 yen and valid to ride on Ohmi Railways all day. A good deal if you plan to ride the Ohmi Railways train at least twice. Also, during non-rush hours (9 am - 4 pm), you can bring your bicycle aboard the train. Website (in Japanese)

Main Line (Honsen 本線)

Ohmi Railways train at Echigawa Station. Typical yellow color.
When not busy, bicycles are allowed on Ohmi Railways trains.
Ohmi Railways trains can sometimes be colorful. Takamiya Station.

From Maibara Station to Kibukawa Station.

Taga Line (多賀線)

Only two stations on this line which shoots off the Main Line.

  • Takamiya Station (高宮駅) - Transfer point between the Main Line and Taga Line. Takamiya-juku is also a former stage town on the Nakasendo Road.
  • Screen Station (スクリーン駅) - New station built in March 2008 for Dainippon Screen Mfg. Co., Ltd. which has a factory nearby.
  • Taga Taisha-mae Station - (多賀大社前駅) - Nearby is Taga Taisha Shrine, one of Shiga's most popular shrines.

Yokaichi Line (八日市線)

Runs between Omi-Hachiman Station on the Tokaido Line and Yokaichi Station in Higashi Omi.

Shigaraki Kogen Railway (信楽高原鉄道)

Shigaraki Kogen Railway train at Shigaraki Station.

This short train line operates entirely within Koka city. The main destination is the Shigaraki Ceramic Park. It takes about 22 min. from Kibukawa Station to Shigaraki Station.

Other than Kibukawa and Shigaraki Stations, the train stations in-between have no personnel. You need to pay the train driver when getting off at those stations.

  • Kibukawa Station (貴生川駅) - Transfer point between the Ohmi Railway Line, JR Kusatsu Line, and Shigaraki Kogen Line.
  • Shigarakigushi Station (紫香楽宮跡駅) - See the Shigaraki-no-miya Palace Ruins (National Historic Site) and the train accident memorial.
  • Kumoi Station (雲井駅) -
  • Chokushi Station (勅旨駅) -
  • Gyokukeiji-mae Station (玉桂寺前駅) -
  • Shigaraki Station (信楽駅) - Station for Shigaraki Ceramic Park and many pottery shops. Giant tanuki raccoon dog is the station's symbol. Bicycle rental at station.

Keihan Railways (京阪電気鉄道)

Two streetcar lines operate in Otsu, Shiga.

Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line (京阪石山坂本線)

Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line train at Omi-Jingumae Station. Typical livery.

Otsu's main streetcar line connecting one end of the city to the other.

Keihan Keishin Line (京阪京津線)

Hiezan Railway Sakamoto Cable car.

Streetcar line connecting Otsu and Kyoto.

Hiezan Railway Sakamoto Cable (比叡山鉄道 坂本ケーブル)

  • Cable Sakamoto Station (ケーブル坂本駅) - At the foot of Mt. Hiei in Shiga. Near Sakamoto Station on the Keihan Line and Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine.
  • Horaioka Station (ほうらい丘駅) - Newest station opened in 1984 to enable people to see a stone buddha statue. The cable car stops here only upon request.
  • Motateyama Station (もたて山駅) - Nearby is the grave of poet Ki no Tsurayuki (紀 貫之).
  • Cable Enryakuji Station (ケーブル延暦寺駅) - Terminal station atop Mt. Hiei. A short walk away is Enryakuji temple.

Getting Around Shiga by Bus

Full-size local bus at Chomeiji Port in Omi-Hachiman.
At Yokaichi Station, local bus nicknamed Chokotto Bus.

Major train stations such as Otsu Station, Kusatsu Station, Moriyama Station, Yasu Station, Omi-Hachiman Station, and Nagahama Station have a good local bus network. Ask the local tourist info office for directions on which bus to take. If you don't understand the buses or if they come to infrequently, take a taxi available at the larger train stations. The smaller train stations usually have no taxis. In rural areas, it may be difficult to catch a taxi on the street.

Buses operated by Ohmi Railways (Ohmi Bus or Kokoku Bus with Seibu Lion logo) operate from major train stations. The routes and schedules are in Japanese here: https://www.ohmitetudo.co.jp/bus/rosen/index.html also here at Jorudan: https://mb.jorudan.co.jp/os/bus/shiga/. There is Kojaku Bus that operates in western Shiga in Otsu and Takashima, Teisan Konan Kotsu that operate buses in Kusatsu and Otsu, and Shiga Bus that operates mainly in Yasu.

On less crowded routes are city-run "community buses" in the following cities (links go to bus schedules in Japanese at Jorudan):

Some major bus routes:

Taxi Cabs in Shiga

Taxi stand at Maibara Station.

Major train stations in Shiga have taxi stands. Smaller stations will not have taxis standing by. In such a case, call the respective number below to call a taxi. Note that the operator might not speak English, so just mention the train station name and your name. The phone call from a Japan cell phone will cost ¥11 per 20 sec.

Taxi phone numbers in Shiga in Japanese here.

  • Taxi number for Nagahama area: 0570-02-0106

For Nagahama, Tamura, Torahime, Kawake, and Takatsuki Stations.

  • Taxi number for Maibara area: 0570-02-0106

For Maibara, Sakata, Samegai, and Omi-Nagaoka Stations.

  • Taxi number for Hikone area: 0570-02-0106

For Hikone, Minami Hikone, Kawase, Inae, Fujitec-mae, Toriimoto, Hikone Serikawa, Hikoneguchi, Takamiya, and Screen Stations.

  • Taxi number for Omi-hachiman area: 0570-07-0106

For Omihachiman, Azuchi, Shinohara, and Musa Stations.

  • Taxi number for Higashiomi area: 0570-07-0106

For Notogawa, Yokaichi, Gokasho, Kawabe-no-Mori, Shin-Yokaichi, Tarobogumae, Ichinobe, Hirata, Nagatanino, Daigaku-mae, Kyocera-mae, Sakuragawa, and Asahi Otsuka Stations.

  • Taxi number for Kora and Taga: 0570-02-0106

For Taga Taisha-mae, Amago, and Toyosato Stations.

  • Taxi number for Ryuo: 0570-07-0106
  • Taxi number for Aisho: 0570-02-0106
  • Taxi number for Hino: 0570-07-0106
  • Taxi number for Kusatsu: 0570-09-0106

For Kusatsu and Minamikusatsu Stations.

  • Taxi number for Moriyama: 0570-09-0106
  • Taxi number for Ritto: 0570-09-0106

For Ritto and Tehara Stations.

  • Taxi number for Yasu: 0570-09-0106

Getting Around Shiga by Rental Bicycle

Main article: Cycling Around Lake Biwa and Shiga Prefecture

Rental bicycles at Hikone Station.

Many train stations have rental bicycles for tourists. Usually, you can rent a bicycle at one train station and return it at another if it's on the same train line. Very convenient and a great way to enjoy the lake views or get to places not often served by buses. The bicycles are rented out by the local tourist association or a private vendor. It's usually ¥500 for the day's rental, and the bicycle must be returned by 5 pm or so. Many major hotels in Shiga also have rental bicycles.

In recent years, bicycling around Lake Biwa (called "Biwa-ichi") has become very popular, attracting over 70,000 cyclists annually. To assist these cyclists, "Biwaichi Cycle Stations" have been setup at convenience stores and other spots in Shiga. They may provide food, water, bicycle tire pumps, and bicycle courier service. While most rental bicycles are for short and casual cycling, a few bicycle rental outlets such as Biwako Isshu Rental Cycle at Maibara Station and Moriyama have high-grade bicycles geared for long-distance cycling.

The following train stations in Shiga have rental bicycles: Otsu Station, Hikone Station (AL Plaza), Kusatsu Station, Omi-Hachiman Station, Azuchi Station (North exit), Maibara Station (East exit), Sakata Station, Nagahama Station, Torahime Station, Takatsuki Station, Kawake Station, Kinomoto Station, Yogo Station, Omi-Shiotsu Station, Nagahara Station, Makino Station, Omi-Imazu Station, Omi-Takashima Station, Shin-Asahi Station (West exit), Adogawa Station, Sakamoto Station, Terasho Station, Konan Station, Ishibe Station, Kosei Station, Koka Station, Aburahi Station, and Shigaraki Station.

If you have your own bicycle, you can cycle around the lake in 3 days, assuming you also want to see the sights. The ride can be shortened to two days if you opt to ride across the Biwako Ohashi Bridge at the neck of the panhandle and skip riding on the southern shore (Otsu). There is a lakeshore road or cycling road along most of the way, and the terrain is flat almost all the around. Very scenic compared to riding a train.

The only tough part is the mountainous northern area where the road goes up a mountain near Sugaura (Oku Biwako Parkway or Route 512). Most people avoid this road and take the flatter route on Route 303 going through the long tunnel. The views are much better along the steeper Oku Biwako Parkway, but it can be hazardous with loose rocks falling down the cliffs. Check information on road conditions before going up Route 512. The downhill ride is thrilling. Riding in a counterclockwise direction (left side of the road) will put you closer to the lake.

Getting Around Shiga by Boat

Boats from Nagahama and Hikone Ports at Chikubushima.

Lake Biwa has boats operating at the following ports for tourists:

During cherry blossom season, boats from Nagahama, Hikone, and Imazu also go to Kaizu-Osaki Port on the northern shore lined with cherry blossoms.

It is also possible to cross Lake Biwa between Nagahama Port and Imazu Port by boat via Chikubushima island.

Two boat cruise companies operate on Lake Biwa: Biwako Kisen based in Otsu Port (operates Michigan paddlewheel boat and Bianca luxury boat) and Omi Marine based in Hikone Port for cruises to Chikubushima island and tiny Takeshima island. This company is affiliated with Ohmi Railways.

Essential Japanese Railway Vocabulary

tetsudo 鉄道 – railway

eki 駅 – railway station (train, subway, or street car)

ekisha 駅舎 – railway station building

eki konai 駅構内 – inside or within the train station.

kippu uriba きっぷうりば – place to buy tickets

kenbaiki 券売機 – ticket vending machine

Midori no Madoguchi みどりの窓口 – Manned ticket counter or office at major train stations to buy reserved seat tickets (and rail passes). Colored in green and usually open from 5:30 am to 10 pm.

joshaken 乗車券 – regular-fare train ticket

tokkyuken 特急券 – express-fare train ticket

jiyuseki 自由席 – non-reserved seating

shiteiseki 指定席 – reserved seating, extra charge required.

machiai-shitsu 待合室 - Waiting room in the train station. A room to keep warm in winter or cool in summer while waiting for your train. Most train stations have a small waiting room on the platform.

te-arai 手洗い – restrooms (toilet)

kaisatsu 改札 – Turnstile or ticket gate where you present your ticket or tap card.

ICOCA – IC smart card issued in the Kansai area as a rechargeable tap card to pay the train fare through an automated turnstile equipped with a card reader. Prounounced “Ikoka” which means “Shall we go?”

ressha 列車 – train

Futsu 普通 – Local train stopping at every station. Also called Futsu-ressha 普通列車.

kaku-eki 各駅 – Stops at every station.

Kaisoku 快速 – Rapid Service train stopping at fewer stations than Futsu. (Same train fare as Futsu.)

Shin-kaisoku 新快速 – Special Rapid Service train stopping at fewer stations than Kaisoku trains. (Same train fare as Futsu.)

Tokkyu 特急 – Limited Express long-distance trains stopping only at major train stations. Extra charge required.

Green-sha グリーン車 – First-class car requiring extra charge.

shinkansen 新幹線 – Bullet train. Nozomi only stops at the major stations (doesn’t stop at Maibara). Hikari trains stop at a few more stations (sometimes Maibara) and Kodama trains stop at all shinkansen stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

daiya ダイヤ or jikokuhyo 時刻表 – Train schedule

yukisaki 行先 – train destination

unkyu 運休 – canceled train

okure 遅れ – Delayed train. Usually preceded by the number of minutes the train is delayed.

yusen-seki 優先席 – Courtesy seat for elderly, handicapped, etc. Formerly called “silver seat” シルバーシート.

rosen 路線 – train line (Biwako Line, Kusatsu Line, etc.)

senro – 線路 – Railroad/train tracks. If you drop something on the tracks, alert the station staff.

homu ホーム – Station platform where you board the train.

Roku-ryo-hensei 6両編成 – Six-car train. If it’s a 10-car train, it’s called Ju-ryo hensei.

nanban-sen 何番線 – Which platform No.?

shasho 車掌 – On-board train conductor who may check your express train ticket (on tokkyu and shinkansen). He/she also sells train tickets if your boarding train station does not have a ticket machine or manned ticket window.

deguchi 出口 – exit (Nishi-guchi 西口 West exit, Higashi-guchi 東口 East exit, Kita-guchi 北口 North exit, Minami-guchi 南口 South exit)

shuten 終点 – Last stop on the train line.

coin locker コインロッカー – Coin-operated lockers for luggage. Only the larger train stations have it.

kanko annaisho 観光案内所 – tourist information desk

renta-saikuru レンタサイクル – Bicycle rentals. Or just say “jintensha karitai.”

basu noriba バスのりば – bus stop

taxi noriba タクシーのりば – taxi stand

Related Articles

External Links

Asterisked links in English.

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