- Shiga Prefecture
Infobox Prefecture Japan
Name = Shiga
JapaneseName = 滋賀県
Rōmaji = Shiga-ken
Symbol = PrefSymbol-Shiga.png
Capital = Ōtsu
Region = Kinki
TotalArea = 4,017.36
AreaRank = 38th
PCWater = 14.0
April 1, 2000
Population = 1,337,770
PopRank = 31st
Density = 332
Districts = 5
Municipalities = 26
ISOCode = JP-25
Rhododendron("Rhododendron metternichii" var. "hondoense")
Tree = Japanese
Little Grebe("Tachybaptus ruficollis")
Website = [http://www.pref.shiga.jp/english/index.html www.pref.shiga.jp/
Shiga was known as
Ōmi Provincebefore the prefectural system was established.
Shiga shares a border with
Fukui Prefecturein the north, Gifu Prefecturein the east, Mie Prefecturein the southeast, and Kyoto Prefecturein the west.
Different areas of the prefecture include "Kohoku" (north of lake), "Kosei" (west of lake), "Koto" (east of lake), and "Konan" (south of lake).
Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, is located at the center of this prefecture. It occupies one-sixth the total area of Shiga. The prefecture is enclosed by mountain ranges with the Hira Mountainsin the west, the Ibuki mountain range in the east, and the Suzuka Mountainsin the southeast. Northern Shiga is substantially colder with higher snowfall than in southern Shiga, which is usually warmer. Seta Riverflows out from Lake Biwa to Osaka Baythrough Kyoto. This is the only natural river which flows out from the lake. All of the other natural rivers flow into the lake.
Thirteen cities are located in Shiga Prefecture:
These are the towns in each district.
Shiga Gubernatorial election, 2006
A number of major companies have factories in Shiga such as IBM Japan, Canon, Yanmar Diesel,
Mitsubishiand Toray. Trading house C.Itoh was founded in Shiga among the well-known Omi merchants.
The population is concentrated along the southern shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu city (adjacent to Kyoto) and along the eastern shore of Lake Biwa. Cities on the eastern shore like Kusatsu and Moriyama are within commuting distance to
Kyoto. In recent years, many Brazilians have settled in Shiga to work in nearby factories. The lake's western shores are more rural and resort-oriented with white-sand swimming beaches.
Tonda Traditional Bunraku Puppet Troupe, a Japanese puppet theater in the form known as "ningyō jōruri" or Bunraku, is based in Biwa Town, on the shore of Lake Biwain the northeastern part of Shiga Prefecture. Founded in the 1830s, the Tonda Puppet Troupe is one of the most active traditional puppet theaters in Japan outside the National Theater in Osaka.In Moriyama, there is also the Sagawa Art Museum.
The sports teams listed below are based in Shiga.
Toray Arrows (women's volleyball team)(Otsu)
The main gateways to Shiga are the
Maibara Stationin northern Shiga and the city of Otsu in the south.
There are temples, castles, festivals, historical persons, and natural beauty that rank among those of national importance. Shiga's most prominent feature is
Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. It looks like Japan's belly button on a map of Japan. The lake can be visited either by car (you can drive completely around it in one day) or by boat. The northern part of the lake is especially scenic. The western shore has white-sand swimming beaches, popular among Kyotoites during the summer. It is less developed than the eastern shore where there are cities such as Nagahama, Hikone, and Omi-Hachiman.
Boat cruises such as the well-known Michigan paddlewheeler and cruises to scenic Chikubu-shima island are worthy excursions. Many lakeside towns also offer rental bicycles where you can hop on the bicycle at one train station and ride to another train station to return it. Cycling is a great way to see Shiga and the lake shore roads are very scenic. In spring, don't miss riding (or driving) through a stretch of road in Kaizu Osaki on the northern shore lined with cherry trees. It is one of "100 cherry blossoms sights in Japan".
Beautiful views of the lake can also be had from mountain roads like the Oku-Biwako Parkway road up north and the Hiei-zan Driveway and Oku-Hiei Driveway overlooking the southwestern shore. In Otsu, the Otsu Prince Hotel's Top of Otsu restaurant provides a superb high, panoramic view of the lake and city.
Like other prefectures, festivals abound in Shiga. Unique festivals include the Hikiyama Festival held each April in Nagahama. During this festival ornate floats are mounted with miniature stages on which highly-skilled boys (playing both male and female roles) act in kabuki plays. Meanwhile, Higashiomi (formerly Yokaichi) city holds a Giant Kite Festival every May along the riverbank. Ordinary people are invited to pull the rope that sends the kites aloft (unfortunately they don't fly very long if there's no wind).
Shiga's most famous building is
Hikone Castle, a national treasure. The castle tower is well preserved and provides a good glimpse into how a real castle looked during Japan's feudal period. It also has many cherry trees. The castle is associated with Ii Naosuke, who was the Tokugawa shogunate's Great Elder ( Tairō). He favored and concluded commercial treaties with the Western powers and thus broke Japan's isolation from the world in the 19th century.
Shiga's second-most famous building is Ishiyama Temple in Otsu. It has a room where one of Japan's most famous novel,
Tale of Genjiwas written.
Shiga Prefecture is also famous for its Omi Hakkei or Eight Views of Omi, popularized by
Hiroshige's picturesque woodblock prints. Unfortunately, most of the original eight views are now almost gone or totally different from what they were centuries ago. One of them was set in Katata, home of the Ukimido, another famous building in Shiga. It is a small temple building built on stilts (now concrete pillars) on the lake near the shore, accessible by a short bridge.
Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Hunan, People's Republic of China
* [http://www.pref.shiga.jp/english/index.html Shiga Prefecture Home page (English)]
* [http://photoguide.jp/pix/index.php?cat=3 Shiga Photos at PHOTOGUIDE.JP]
* [http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5CEE149D843241E4 Shiga Videos from PHOTOGUIDE.JP via YouTube]
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