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Shiga is a prefecture, not a city, so it isn’t appropriate to compare it to Kyoto city, as a matter of fact. Well, I did it because no single city in Shiga can match against Kyoto. Kyoto is a way out of our league after all-haha.
Since it is a prefecture and much bigger than a city, there are a lot to see and do in Shiga. Depending on what you want to do, there are several options.
One thing I recommend, in terms of experiencing Japanese culture, is that you go to Omi-Hachiman and Hino. If you visit those two places, you get to see a lot of Kominkas; old traditional style houses; temples; shrines; and rice paddies.
Also those two places are famous for Omi-merchants and therefore relevant to the readers of this blog. There are 4 kinds of Omi-merchants; Takashima-merchant, Hachiman-merchant, Hino-merchant, and Koto-merchant. By visiting Omi-Hachiman and Hino, you are covering two of the Omi-merchants.
From Kyoto station, you can catch Shin-kaisoku, the new express train to Omi-Hachiman. It is about a 30 minute-ride.
It is so close from Kyoto isn’t it? That’s why you don’t want to miss it.
When you arrive at Omi-Hachiman station, you want to go to the north exit. There you can catch a bus to Hachiman-bori. You can also rent a bicycle and cycle there. Hachiman-bori is a beautiful moat and there are a lot of nice cafes, restaurants, and shops along the moat.
Many of the cafes and shops are in renovated Kominkas and you can feel the Japanese atmosphere there like you do in Kyoto with less tourists. Hachiman-bori is becoming popular now and yet it isn’t as crowded as Kyoto.
If you want to avoid the crowd, you can walk along the moat to the other direction from the main bridge. Not to the direction of Kawara museum.
It is quieter there.
You’ll also find cool cafes like that.
You can walk along the moat all the way to a cafe called Saraku.
This type of mud wall is common in Kominka and the cafe used to be a warehouse.
You can visit Hachiman-shrine by Hachiman-bori, too.
You can take Hachiman-yama cable car to climb up Mt. Hachiman. At the top, you can have a breathtaking view of Lake Biwa.
Around Hachiman-bori, there are a lot of Kominkas and some of them used to belong to Omi-Hachiman-merchants.
If you want to visit a temple, you can go to Chomei-ji by Lake Biwa. It is on top of a hill over looking the lake.
If you are cycling, you can continue cycling along the lake and go to a cafe called Share Mizugahama.
It has a great view of the lake, as well.
Check out the following site to find more detailed information about Omi-Hachiman.