Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream refers to a particular view of the Seta river; Seta river runs through Shiga Prefecture's Otsu city. This is one of the 8 great views of Biwa Lake. The flowing Seta River, lit up by the rays of a setting sun, forms a backdrop for the Kara Bridge, one of the three major Japanese bridges.
Historically, this so-called ‘Seta’s evening sunlight’ has been an especially popular sight among Shiga's famous views. It is famed as one of the Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi) of Ando Hiroshige. Another famous view in the area that appears in many literary works and Ukiyoe paintings is ‘Ishiyama’s Moon in Autumn'.
Even now, an old-fashioned houseboat is popular among sightseers. You can enjoy the unique beauty of all four seasons at Ishiyama temple or along the Seta river; in the Spring, cherry blossoms, during early Summer, azalea, in peak Summer, cool breezes, in Autumn, fall foliage, and in the Winter, a snowy landscape.
The many boats and canoes that now congregate near the Kara Bridge creates scenary very different from the Ukiyoe that Hiroshige painted. However, the scene of boats passing by the bridge in the evening is still quite beautiful, much like a scene straight out of a movie.
Lake Biwa was formed about four million years ago and is the third oldest lake in the world behind Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika. It is one of only 10 ancient lakes in the world. It is also the biggest lake in Japan.
In the Muromachi period, Konoeno Masaie, one of the then emperor's chief advisers, selected the Eight Views of Omi around the lake, following the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang around Lake Dongting in China.
Unfortunately, the appearance of the scenery has completely changed today. But for the Eight Major Views of Lake Biwa that were selected in 1950, the scenery has not changed much.
The present eight scenic views include:
*Morning fog, rocks in Nedu-Osaki (Takashima City)
*Cool wind, white beach in Omatsuzaki (Otsu City)
*Drizzle, trees in Hiei (Otsu City)
*Evening sunlight, clear stream in Seda, Ishiyama (Otsu City)
*New snow, spectacle of Mt Shizuka (Kinomoto Town)
*Deep green, shadow of Takebu Island (Nagahama City)
*Bright moon, old castle in Hikone (Hikone City)
*Spring color, Azuchi-Hachiman's waterfront (Azuchi Town, Omi-Hachiman City)
You can enjoy these various scenic sights, too, and be moved by their magnificence, as well as walk around the castle town reading about its history.
Omatsuzaki is a beach that lies in North Komatsu, Shiga town, Shiga prefecture. It is a crescent shaped sand bar situated on the northern side of the Hira river mouth. It also bulges along the eastern side of Lake Biwa.
Omatsuzaki is chosen as one of the 8 scenic spots of Lake Biwa, and is known as 'Cool Breeze - Omatsuzaki White Beach'. The depth of the water suddenly changes, and the water – so clear it's as if one could catch a fish by hand – stretches far out. The view of white sand and green pines, spreading for 3km with the Hira mountain range as its backdrop, is just magnificent.
Omatsuzaki has been known as a scenic spot since olden times. In summer, it becomes the number-one leisure venue for Lake Biwa. At that time, it is crowded with people enjoying sports such as windsurfing and swimming. Omatsuzaki-no-hakutei is a scenic area that catches the heart of visitors.
Mt. Hiei is covered with forests of old-growth cedars and fir trees, which are left intact since the ancient times. The whole mountain belongs to Enryakuji temple, which was founded by the monk Saicho and has served as the headquarters of the Tendai sect. It is considerd to be the most important mountain in the establishment of Japnese Buddhism, because Honen, the founderof Jodo Sect, Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shin-shu Sect, Eisai, the founder of Rinzai Sect, Dogen, the founder of Sodo Sect, and Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren-shu Sect all trained themselves in this mountain when young. The trees in the smoky mist looks especially beautiful. “Forest on Mt. Hiei” is counted as one of Eight Views of Lake Biwa. The halls of Enryakuji Temple surrounded with old-growth trees in smoky mist create mysterious and fantastic atmosphere.
Chikubu Island is in the northern part of Lake Biwa, in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. The total area of the island is 0.14m2 and its highest part is 197m. It is designated a Great Scenic and Historical Place of the Nation.
Chikubu Island is located 2km south of Tsuzurao Cape. The whole island is covered with conifers and is said to be one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa. The island also appears in Japanese Noh dance-drama, and is referred to in Japanese lute music, storytelling, and modern Japanese music.
Since olden times, the island has been worshipped and a god is said to live there. At the south end of the island, there are Chikubu Island Shrine, enshrining one of the three major Benten gods, and Hogoji Temple, the 30th spot of Saigoku 33. The lake around the island is deep, while the western side is the deepest part of Lake Biwa. Between the island and Tsuzurao Cape in the north, remains have been found on the lake bottom. Much earthenware is being pulled up from 70 meters down.
Chikubu Island is a traditional island with a long history and a myth.
Hikone Castle was once the seat of the Ii family in Konki, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture. Another name for the castle is Konki Castle. It has been designated as a National Treasure and Special National Historical Place.
After the battle of Sekigahara, Ii Naotsugu, the son of Naomasa, the first Hikone domain head, along with Naotaka, the second domain head, built the castle, which was finally completed in the 8th year of the Genna period (1622).
Even today, the white three-storeyed castle tower still retains its power and majesty. The castle is one of Japan's four major National Treasure castles, the others being Himeji, Matsumoto and Inuyama.
The castle features many Important Cultural Assets such as the Balance Watchtower and the Taiko Gate Watchtower. The mood of each season is enhanced by cherry blossoms, fresh green, red leaves and snow. Moreover, Hikone Castle in moonlight is very beautiful, and comprises one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa.
Hikone Castle is one of the best castles in the world.
Mt Shizugatake (421.9m) is located between the towns of Kinomoto and Yogo in Ika County, Shiga Prefecture. In the 11th year of the Tensho period (1583), Mt Shizugatake was the site of the battle between Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie over who would succeed Oda Nobunaga.
Hideyoshi covered the 50km distance from Ogaki to Kinomoto in five hours, and he won the battle with the support of Shunei, known as 'seven spears in Shizugatake'.
It was soon after the battle of Shizugatake that Hideyoshi said 'It is now that Japan has settled down', for the period of civil war had ended.
From Mt Shizugatake, you can see Mt Ibuki and Kotani to the east; Lake Biwa and Chikubu Island to the south; and Yogo Lake of the Hagoromo Legacy to the north.
Mt Shizugatake is one of the best scenic areas in the Kohoku region, and one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa.
Mt Shizugatake is the historic site that witnessed the turning point that led to the end of internal warring in Japan.
There are eight famous major scenic sights in Shiga prefecture. They achieved their fame in particular because they were depicted in famous woodblock prints by Ando Hiroshige in the Edo period.
The eight famous scenic sights are mainly located to the south of Lake Biwa, rather than around the whole lake. In 1950, when Lake Biwa was designated as a National Park, the eight major scenic spots were selected from all the scenery in the district.
One of these scenic spots is the waterfront leading to Nishi Lake from Azuchi to Omi-Hachiman. The maze-like waterfront is located in the middle of Shiga prefecture, to the east of Biwa Lake, and surrounded by peaceful fields and a heavy growth of reed. The waterfront reflects each season, and you enter another world where you can forget the daily noise.
If you take the waterfront tour, which is an imitation of Oda Nobunaga's sailing boat, many wild birds will welcome you with their lovely songs.