Explore more of Shiga and Biwako

Custom Private Tours

Craft a unique course featuring points of local geography, culture, or cuisine. We'll help you get the most out of your Shiga experience!

Here are some of our favorite routes and activities for custom tours. Exact prices vary depending on group size and itinerary. Request bookings through our Booking Page and we'll be happy to get started on an itinerary and price estimates.

Sacred Mountain Hiking - Custom Course

Surrounding Shiga’s higest peak, Mt. Ibuki, are several smaller and often overlooked mountains. On a half-day hike we explore one of our favorites!

A magical experience through a uniquely diverse forest, as we explore uninhabited mountain shrine and temple structures, a mountain spring, and occasional glimpses of the local wildlife.

This is about a 2 hour hike up, and 1 hour down. The trail is soft and fairly well maintained, but the incline is somewhat steep at points. Suitable for beginner hikers of all ages, however it may be unsuitable for some visitors with health problems or injuries.

Use our Booking Page for all booking requests. For custom private tours, just tell us about your travel plans, and we'll get started on an itinerary. Thanks!

Local Cuisine & Traditional Fermentation - Custom Course

Treat your senses and experience the unique local cuisine of northern Shiga and Lake Biwa.

Japanese cuisine, and this region in particular, includes many fermentation techniques from sake and soy sauce to pickled vegetables and a local delicacy, funazushi, which is a fermented precursor to modern-day sushi!

photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau

Enjoy trying some local dishes and meeting local food producers!

Depending on the specifics itinerary, meals and/or tasting may or may not be included in the tour price. We will be sure to confirm everything that is included at the time of reserving your booking.

Use our Booking Page for all booking requests. For custom private tours, just tell us about your travel plans, and we'll get started on an itinerary. Thanks!

Ancient Rural Religion - Custom Course

Shiga’s remote northern villages have many temples containing Kannon dieties, many of which have been designated as national treasures. The area’s religious sculptures have been collectively shown in museums, but are best seen here in their natural home.

This area also offers some of the most photogenic views of Lake Biwa and a variety of natural landscapes offering scenic seasonal surprises.

photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau
photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau

Use our Booking Page for all booking requests. For custom private tours, just tell us about your travel plans, and we'll get started on an itinerary. Thanks!

Chikubushima: Historic Island Sanctuary - Custom Course

This island in the middle of northern Lake Biwa gives visitors an amazing view of Japan’s largest lake.

Chikubushima has no local residents but welcomes daily visitors who come to see the temple, shrine, and a museum that shares its unique history. Learn some of the many legends surrounding its origin and prominence in local religion.

photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau
photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau
photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau

Use our Booking Page for all booking requests. For custom private tours, just tell us about your travel plans, and we'll get started on an itinerary. Thanks!

Seasonal Attractions

Smalltown life in Japan often includes seasonal attractions, annual cultural events, and local festivals. We love to share such aspects of our local culture, and private tours allow easy exclusive access for visitors to enjoy participating. In particular, the spring and autumn Hikiyama festivals of Nagahama and Maibara are a rare and unique treat featuring Kabuki performed by local children! Sakura season is also a treat here in rural areas away from the crowds. For more ideas, here are some highlights:

Spring

Our ready-made tour courses include local area cherry blossoms to enjoy without the typical crowds, but for the full hanami experience, Hikone Castle is a favored destination featuring cherry blossoms along the moat, festival food stands, picnics, night viewing, etc.

Nagahama City holds their Hikiyama Festival in mid-April, featuring traditional hand-pulled parade floats and kabuki performed by children, a rare practice which collectively with a few other practicing towns, is now a designated World Cultural Heritage. We can arrange private tours here, as well as extended exclusive access tours of the smaller scale Hikiyama festival in Maibara in October.

Summer

A common Japan tradition, Shiga also holds summer festivals and fireworks displays. Nagahama’s fireworks are in early August, and Hikone also has a display a few days prior.

On our Traditional Villages Walking Tour (here), Samegai attracts domestic tourists in July and August when a rare aqautic river flower, baikamo, or water buttercup, begins blooming.

Autumn

There are many autumn culture events in Japan. In September and October, Hikone Castle’s Genkyuen Garden has extended evening hours for a “concert of nature” to enjoy sounds of autumn insects such as crickets.

Maibara holds their Hikiyama Festival in early October, featuring children’s kabuki similar to Nagahama's festival, but on a smaller scale. We offer exclusive private tours to this event including backstage and rehearsal events. Be sure to ask if you're here in October!

Winter

photo © Biwako Visitors Bureau

From January to March when plum blossoms are in bloom, Nagahama opens a seasonal museum called Bonbaiten featuring plum blossom bonsai trees. Some of the trees on display are hundreds of years old!

Winter usually also brings plenty of snow to northern Shiga, which could prohibit our cycling tours, but also offers serene white scenery for our winter walking tours!

Use our Booking Page for all booking requests. For custom private tours, just tell us about your travel plans, and we'll get started on an itinerary. Thanks!