Karasuma Peninsula features an extensive community of lotuses, which spread across Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture. Stretching out for as much as 9.3ha, there is nowhere else in Japan that has so many lotuses in one place.
Lotuses flower between the middle of July and the middle of August. The best time to appreciate them is early in the morning around 6 a.m. The scene of thousands of lotus flowers swaying above the leaves is simply mesmerizing and takes viewers into a timeless bewitching world.
Alongside the lotus area is an aquatic botanical garden established by Kusatsu town and called Mizu-no-mori (Water Forest), with over 200 species of plants. The garden includes all sorts of lotuses and water lilies, and has a greenhouse (where many Southern garden plants and seeds are cultivated), as well as a small theater, which screens films and picture shows of lotus gardens and all kinds of lotuses.
During the lotus-flowering season, the garden opens earlier than usual at 7 to allow the people who have come to enjoy the lotuses to be able to relax afterwards.
The lotuses of Karasuma Peninsula make a charming and captivating spectacle, harmonizing perfectly with the scenery of nearby Lake Biwako.
The renowned Isame spring wells out at Kamo Temple in Samegai, Maibara, in Shiga Prefecture.
The spring is mentioned in the 'Kojiki' (Japan’s oldest extant chronicle) and the 'Nihon-shoki' (second-oldest book about the ancient history of Japan). It is said to be the holy water that washed away and cleansed the poison which had induced fever in Yamato-Takeru-no-mikoto (famous for slaying a violent deity at Mt Ibuki on his way back from the East). Legend has it that, in gratitude, Yamato-Takeru named the spring Isame-no-Shimizu.
The source of the spring is on Mt Ryozen and it is said that, as the water wells out and passes through the mountain rock and soil, the flavor as well as the mineral content of the water change.
Isame spring wells out from under a stone wall in the precinct of Kamo Temple to feed into a river which flows along the old 'nakasando' (road through the central mountains). The spring water of Isame, along with the nearby waters of the Saigyosui and the Jyuosui, has become an essential and indispensable source of water for the people of Samegai and can also be said to be 'oasis' water that relieves the tiredness and tension of travelers to this resort.
The famous spring water of Isame has been praised through the ages for its healing and soothing properties since time immemorial.
Mishima Pond is a reservoir created 700 years ago for agricultural purposes and is located in Maibara, Shiga prefecture. The pond is elliptical with a perimeter of 780m and a total area of 39000㎡. There is a deep relationship between the pond and Mishima shrine.
Since ancient times, the pond has been something of a nature reserve for birds, animals, fish and shellfish. The water is fresh and cold with a depth of about 50cm. The pond is a habitat for various waterbirds and a resting stop for migrating birds.
Miyashima Pond is also called Hiyashi Pond after a legend that a woman named Hiyashagozen heard a prophecy of her death and drowned herself here to stop a drought. It is believed that before her sacrifice, she was weaving. To this day, people say that on rainy nights the sound of her weaving can be heard.
The lake is also a site for cherry-blossoms. In April, the magnificent harmony of blossoms and Mt Ibuki can be seen reflected in the lake.
Tsukubusuma Shrine is located on Tsukubujima (or Chikubujima), a small 2km-round island in Lake Biwa, Nagahama District, in Shiga prefecture.
This small shrine was originally established in 420 for the deity Asaihime-no-mikoto. In 'Ōmi Fudoki' it is recorded that Tatamihiko-no-Makoto of Mt Ibuki, together with Asaihime-no-mikoto of Mt Asai, had a climbing competition. The outraged loser, Tatamihiko-no-mikoto, chopped off Asai-no-mikoto's head, which became Tsukubu Island. It is believed that as the island head was sinking, it made the sound 'tsuku tsuku', hence the island's name Tsukubujima. Another story relates that the island was named after a bamboo (chiku), which was the first plant that grew there.
The shrine is counted as one of the 'three-major Benzaiten' in Japan, and is also believed to be the oldest in Japan. The main building is beautifully sited in front of Lake Biwa. Ryushinjin Haisho, or the main shrine is located on the cliff. There is a custom that by throwing crockery from this place, the Ryushin (dragon god) will grant your wish. The main shrine is designated as an important cultural asset.