Japan’s largest lake is named for its resemblance in shape to the lute-like instrument that arrived here in Shiga long ago via the Silk Road, and this culturally rich prefecture remains one of the country’s finest treasure troves of Shinto and Buddhist art. The lake area is also known for its distinctive culinary offerings. Omi beef, wild eel, softshell turtle and salt-pickled funa carp are just a few of the regional specialties you’ll encounter. In Omi Hachiman, citizen initiatives to restore a 16th-century canal have since grown into a city-wide historical preservation effort that makes exploring the streets, with their mix of traditional and early 20th-century Western-style architecture, a real delight.

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    From Kyoto
    Take the JR Kosei Line to Katata (25 minutes)
    From Kansai International Airport / KIX
    Take the JR Haruka Limited Express to Kyoto; transfer to the JR Kosei Line to Katata (2 hours)
    From Osaka International Airport / ITM
    Take the Osaka Monorail to Hotarugaike; transfer to the Hankyu Takarazuka Main Line and get off at Umeda. From Osaka take the JR Kyoto Line to Kyoto; transfer to the JR Kosei Line to Katata (2 hours)