Located along the eastern shores of Lake Biwa, Hikone City has a rich history dating back as far as the Jomon Period. With its level of importance fluctuating through the years, Hikone has always been key ground for agriculture, Edo Era battles, and more recently, industry, and tourism. For centuries, the city was ruled by the Ii Clan, who with the support of the Tokugawa government of their time, left the city its most significant treasures.
Life in Hikone revolves around the city’s historic castle, one of Japan’s national treasures still
maintaining its original structure. From here the city spreads out toward the lake, with the major sightseeing spots a short distance away. Even from the distance, the castle is viewed high atop the ancient rocks it was built on, reminding visitors of its prominence and of the main reason to visit. But in this area of great history, abundant water, rich agriculture, there is more to do while stepping away from the castle, and travelers will be served well by combining the historic aspect of Hikone with the outdoor options the Lake Biwa has to offer. The food in the city is not too shabby either and visitors will be treated to an arrange of local cuisine with focus on local products. Do not leave without trying Shiga’s signature Omi Beef, Nishin Soba (a regional favourite), and if you are daring enough, funa zushi, a local delicacy straight out of Lake Biwa.
Must-visit sites in the city include the obvious Hikone Castle, Genkyu-en Garden, and the moat area around the castle. During the spring this is the most coveted hanami spot and although crowded at times it is worth the visit. When looking out for regional food and souvenirs to bring back home , Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road is the go-to area. Restaurants, cafes, and omiyage shops abound in this traditionally styled lane just across from the castle;Ohmi beef, handcrafted sweets, and vacuum-packed funa zushi, are just some of the
options. From here the lake is a short distance away, a perfect location to enjoy nature while getting a break from the crowds. In the outskirts, you will find Ryotanji Temple, a spiritual
retreat famous for the large quantity of “daruma”s it houses. This temple is less known to
tourists than other historic locations but equally pleasing. It is also the access point to Sawayama Mountain, for those looking for a challenging hike leading to scenic views of the city.