From Metasequoia Trees to Keisoku-ji Temple! 7 Autumn Foliage Spots around Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture

From Metasequoia Trees to Keisoku-ji Temple! 7 Autumn Foliage Spots around Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture
Kyoto is the most popular place in the Kansai region for viewing autumn leaves. During this season, tourists from Japan and abroad flock to the famous autumn foliage viewing spots, and all of them are packed to overflowing.
However, if you take a short trip to the neighboring Shiga Prefecture, you can enjoy the autumn foliage at a leisurely pace without the crowds like in Kyoto!
This time, we will introduce seven historic places famous for their autumn foliage around Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, which are just as good as temples with autumn leaves in Kyoto!

1. Avenue of Metasequoias

Avenue of Metasequoias
  • Avenue of Metasequoias
  • Avenue of Metasequoias

|Landscape looking like a foreign country! Tree-lined avenues of autumn leaves

Red and yellow maple trees and ginkgo trees are the most common autumn colors, and in Makino Town, Takashima City, located in the northwestern part of Shiga Prefecture, approximately 500 metasequoia trees planted along a 2.4-km stretch of road on both sides begin to change color beautifully.
Walking along the straight paths of colored metasequoia trees is like strolling through a foreign town in Canada or Paris. The scenery is also reminiscent of a scene from the Korean drama "Winter Sonata".
Why don't you visit a foreign-style fall foliage place that is different from the Japanese one?
【Best time to see】Late November~early December

2. Keisoku-ji Temple

Keisoku-ji Temple
  • Keisoku-ji Temple
  • Keisoku-ji Temple

|A fiery crimson carpet that dyes the approach to the temple

Located in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture, Keisoku-ji Temple is one of the temples that was founded by the Nara Period monk Gyoki and was later rebuilt by Saicho. Originally not a very famous temple, it has been rapidly gaining popularity in the past few years as a temple with beautiful autumn foliage.
From the ruins of the Daimon gate, the entrance to the temple, the approach to the temple, and the grounds are covered in a gradation of red and yellow as the 200 maple trees and other trees change colors.
The approach to the temple, which looks like a red carpet is breathtaking and a popular photo spot.
【Best time to see】Mid-November to late November

3. Genkyuen Garden

Genkyuen Garden
  • Genkyuen Garden
  • Genkyuen Garden

|Autumn leaves reflected on the surface of the water in the luxurious garden of Edo culture.

Hikone Castle is one of the most famous castles in Japan. The Genkyuen Garden, located in the northeast of Hikone Castle, is said to have been created by drawing water from Lake Biwa and has been built to imitate the Eight Views of Omi, such as Chikubu Island and Okinoshiraishi (white stones).
During the autumn foliage season, when the castle is illuminated, the sight of the red and yellow trees and the bridge over the pond reflected on the surface, an extravagant scene of Edo culture, is fantastic. Why not spend a moment in late autumn at the glowing Hikone Castle?
【Best time to see】Late November~early December

4. Saimyoji Temple

Saimyoji Temple
  • Saimyoji Temple
  • Saimyoji Temple

|Selected as one of the 31 most beautiful places in Japan by CNN! Mountain temple with 1,000 maple trees

Saimyoji Temple, located in Inukami-gun, Shiga Prefecture, and one of the three mountains of Koto, is a beautiful mountain temple that was selected as one of "Japan's 34 most beautiful places" in a web feature by CNN.
In autumn, maple trees and maple leaves all turn colors, beautifully decorating the precincts of the temple, which is home to many national treasures and important cultural properties. In particular, the autumn colors of the nearly 1,000 maple trees planted here are truly overwhelming.
Enjoy the Japanese autumn in a quiet mountain temple.
【Best time to see】Early November~early December

5. Hyakusaiji Temple

Hyakusaiji Temple
  • Hyakusaiji Temple
  • Hyakusaiji Temple

|A scene highly praised by Luis Frois, a missionary of the Warring States period.

Located in Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture, Hyakusaiji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku and is an atmospheric temple with a mountain castle covered by massive stone walls.
From around early November, nanakamado (Japanese rowan) and dodan-tsutsuji (Enkianthus perulatus) trees dye the historic temple. A must-see when visiting this temple is the scattered autumn leaves that cover the "Ishigaki approach" with its moss-covered stone walls. The beautiful autumn foliage of Hyakusaiji Temple was praised as "heaven on earth" by the Catholic missionary Luis Frois.

Hyakusaiji Temple, which retains the same natural scenery and emotion as it did more than 1,400 years ago, has also been used as a filming location for movies and historical dramas about the Warring States Period.
【Best time to see】Early November to late November

6. Ishiyamadera Temple

Ishiyamadera Temple
  • Ishiyamadera Temple
  • Ishiyamadera Temple

|Contrast between wollastonite and red crimson maples. An ancient temple associated with Murasaki Shikibu

Ishiyamadera Temple, founded in the late Nara Period by the order of Emperor Shomu, is famous as the temple where Murasaki Shikibu penned "The Tale of Genji," one of the most famous stories in Japanese literary history.
The temple's name comes from the silica limestone, a natural monument, which rises on the temple grounds and contrasts with the approximately 2,000 maple trees planted on the grounds, creating a spectacular sight not found in other temples.
Autumn leaves are also illuminated, and you can enjoy a fantastic space that interweaves modern art and history.
【Best time to see】Mid-November~early December

7. Lake Biwa Canal

Lake Biwa Canal
  • Lake Biwa Canal
  • Lake Biwa Canal

|The "waterway" leading to Kyoto, traditionally used by many people.

Lake Biwa Canal, which draws water from Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture to Kyoto, is famous for its waterway pavilions and inclines on the Kyoto side, but there are also beautiful spots for viewing autumn leaves on the Shiga side, the starting point of the waterway.
The name of the place is the First Tunnel East Exit, the first tunnel in Otsu City. The combination of the imposing triangular roof and the autumn leaves peeking out from both sides of the canal creates a retro atmosphere.

The "Lake Biwa Canal Boat," which ply the Canal in spring and fall only, has returned as a sightseeing boat for the first time in 67 years starting in 2018. However, reservations for the ride is sold out very fast. It might be difficult to take the boat, but why don't you walk along the waterway and enjoy the autumn foliage?
【Best time to see】Mid-November to late November
【Address】7 Miideracho, Otsu, Shiga 520-0034
【Access】Keihan Electric Railway / Ishiyama Sakamoto Line, 5 min. walk from "Miidera Station"
【WEB site】
This fall, why not visit Shiga Prefecture to enjoy historic temples and dynamic sceneries without worrying about crowds?
Check out the foliage info and plan your autumn foliage trip!

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