Sapporo / Hakodate / Asahikawa / Obihiro / Kushiro / Rishiri / Okushiri / Abashiri
Japan’s northernmost island and an outdoor lover’s paradise
Kakunodate / Tazawa / Nyuto Onsen
Relax among mountains and lakes in summer, or be dazzled by the winter snow while enjoying unique, northern cuisine.
Morioka / Hiraizumi / Tono
Stunning in all four seasons, Iwate is full of opportunities to enjoy great food and festivals, as well as magnificent scenery.
Yamagata Prefecture / Fukushima Prefecture / Aomori Prefecture
Sceneries, history, cuisine, skiing and hiking... enjoy a trip that will rejuvenate your soul.
Sado-ga-shima / Naeba / Myoko Kogen / Echigo-yuzawa-Onsen
The land of snow, hot springs and fine sake
Narita / Tokyo Disneyland
The gateway to Japan. Packed with great spots for sightseeing where are easily accessible from the capital.
Shinjuku / Akihabara / Asakusa
Japan’s capital and the world’s most populous metropolis
Nagoya / Inuyama / Seto / Nishio /
Toyota / Tokoname / Himaka Island /
Toyokawa / Okazaki
The center of Japanese technology that has prospered as a manufacturing base since ancient times.
Kii Peninsula / Ise
Most sacred shrine, Excellent pearls, and Samurai theme park. Touch the tradition and history.
Arashiyama / Gion / Kurama
The traditional and cultural heart of Japan
Umeda / Namba / Shin-Sekai
One of Japan’s major cities and home of good eating
Fukui / Echizen-Ono
Sample seafood delicacies such as Echizen crab and puffer fish, as you soak yourself in the history of Fukui’s many heritage sites.
Kobe / Toyooka / Himeji / Kinosaki
Enjoy tradition, modernity, sightseeing spots and culinary delights
Shimane Prefecture / Tottori Prefecture
Iya Valley / Tsurugi-san
Hidden springs and fantastic scenery amid pristine natural surroundings.
Shimanto City / Ashizuri-misaki
Combining unspoiled natural beauty with a tropical climate
Miyajima / Iwakuni / Tomo-no-ura / Onomichi
Steeped in history and a symbol of peace the world over
Uwajima / Matsuyama / Ishizuchi-san
Fresh fruit and fish. Tour some of the castle, explore the history.
Fukuoka / Dazaifu
Many sights to see and delicious cuisine. Fukuoka leaves you satisfied every time.
Karatsu / Imari / Arita
Experience breath-taking natural scenery and traditional crafts. A trip with delighting surprises around every corner.
Kumamoto / Aso-san / Kurokawa-Onsen
Surround yourself with nature and taste gourmet flavors you will find nowhere else.
Kirisima-Yaku National Park / Satsuma Peninsula / Amami Islands
The home of historic heroes and a living volcanic landscape. Toast with delicious shochu and sample the unique Kagoshima cuisine.
Osumi Island / Miyako Island / Yaeyama Islands
Japan’s tropical side offering a unique culture and history
Iwakuni / Yamaguchi / Hagi / Shimonoseki / Mine / Ube / Hofu / Yanai
Westernmost end of Japan's main island, Honshu. Walk through the history with great food, sake and lots of superb views.
Dominated by Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest, and situated between Kyoto and Tokyo, Shiga Prefecture is rich in history, culture, nature and cuisine. Make use of JAL’s comprehensive three-day travel plan to experience what makes Shiga so special.
Yume Kyobashi Castle Road / Yonbancho Square walk Lunch (Omi beef, Omi champon, etc.) (About 1 hour 20 min required)
Near Kyobashi Bridge, which spans the Hikone Castle moat. The uniform white walls and black latticework of this townscape are reminiscent of an Edo period castle town. Lined with stores selling Japanese-style confectionary, pastries, and unique local products, this area offers a mix of old-fashioned and modern fare.
Adjacent to Yume Kyobashi Castle Road. Yobancho Square originates from a Taisho period market. Soak in the Taisho atmosphere while enjoying a meal or some shopping.
Hikone Castle / Hikonyan(About 1 hour required)
Hikone Castle was completed in 1622, and ranks alongside Himeiji Castle as one of the finest castles in Japan.
The beauty of Hikone Castle bathed in moonlight is one of the Eight Views of Lake Biwa. Walking the grounds gives you a glimpse of the majesty of Hikone Castle, which escaped both the Meiji period ordinance abolishing castles, as well as wartime destruction. It is a nationally-designated special historic site.
Hikone Castle is known as one of the 8 scenic sites on Lake Biwa for its beauty in the moonlight. Why not coming to take a look?
Hikone craftwork experience (lacquerware / lacquered chopstick polishing / gold embossing)(About 2 hours required)
Hikone butsudan altars are a local traditional craft said to have begun when artisans that had been involved in the production of weapons and armor in the middle of the Tokugawa period turned their hands to butsudan altar manufacturing in times of peace. You can experience the altar production process under the direct guidance of traditional Hikone butsudan altar artisans certified by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Genuine gold leaf and natural lacquer are used, and you can take the finished result home as a souvenir.
Hikone has been famous for the manufacturing of Hikone Butsudan (Household Buddhist altar) since Edo period. How about an experience of making traditional Japanese crafts?
Dinner(Biwa trout cuisine, grilled mackerel somen noodles, etc. *Duck hot pot in winter)
Kurokabe Square walk(About 1 hour 15 min required)
The junction of the Hokkoku Kaido and Mino-Tanigumi Kaido roads has long been the center of Nagahama. In Meiji 33 (1900), the Nagahama branch of the Hyakusanju Bank (which six years later became the Meiji Bank) was built there. It became known as Kurokabe Bank due to its black walls, and in the first year of Heisei (1989) it opened as Kurokabe 1st Building - the Kurokabe Glass Shop. It has a modern exterior with black stucco and white window frames surrounded by a low iron railing, and the interior features an atrium above the entrance. Inside you can view and purchase glass accessories and housewares, as well as glass products and music boxes that staff have procured from around the world. About 30 stores are clustered around the 1st Building. The 2nd Building, Studio Kurokabe, features a store with a range of original glasswork and a workshop where you can watch glass blowers demonstrating the creation process. The Kurokabe Glass Experience Center provides opportunities for hands-on glasswork creation that even beginners can try their hand at freely.
The former Daihyaku Sanjyu Bank building built in Meiji Period was nicknamed “Kurokabe (black wall) Bank” due to the black plaster used on its walls.
Depart Nagahama Port(30 minute cruise)
Arrive at Chikubu Island / island walk (Chikubushima Shrine, Hogon-ji Temple)(About 30 min required)
A small island about 6 km off the coast with a circumference of a little over 2 km. It is home to Hogon-ji Temple and Tsukubusuma Shrine. Hogon-ji is dedicated to Benzaiten and the Thousand-Armed Kannon. This is one of three major Benzaiten in Japan, along with those on Miyajima Island in Aki, and Enoshima Island in Sagami. It also attracts many visitors as the 30th temple on the 33 temple Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage, which dates back to medieval times.
The Karamon gate of Hogon-ji is said to be the only remnant of Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle, and it is designated a national treasure along with the inner sanctuary of Tsukubusuma Shrine. In recent years it has attracted attention as a focal point for mystical energy in Lake Biwa.
Benzaiten shrine is popular for many visitors as it is one of Japan's three largest Benzaiten shrines, together with Miyajima in Aki and Enoshima in Sagami. Hogonji Temple is thought to be the best location to feel the mystical energy of nature in Lake Biwa area.
Depart Imazu Port(30 minute cruise)
Ikiiki Mizubunka Kabatakan(About 40 min required)
A restaurant that specializes in home-made cuisine. One of its most famous dishes is the Shoimeshi meal.
Shoimeshi indicates rice cooked with soy sauce, and the name also calls to mind the shouts of "Wasshoi!" at festivals where it was also served long ago. Dishes use fresh local produce and pure groundwater and are cooked with gas in the traditional method of the region.
Harie Shozu no Sato (an area with abundant spring water)(About 1 hour 30 min required)
Catch a rare glimpse of village life and the rich natural environment of the Lake Biwa area, such as the waterways that wind through the settlement, and the "kabata" (riverside) areas that make use of them.
Harie Shozu no Sato
This area is called The Village of Living Water since it is rich in underground water. You can see the waterside lives and experience the nature of Lake Biwa.
Sake brewing tour at Kawashima Sake Brewery(About 1 hour required)
Kosei, where the Kawashima Sake Brewery is situated, is a scenic region that looks out over the Hira mountain range in the distance. The historic brewery has been making sake in this beautiful natural environment for over 140 years.
They sometimes open for tours of the brewery and sampling sessions (advance reservations are recommended for tours), with visitors coming from as far away as Europe and the United States.
Lodging at Ogoto Hot Springs(Overnight stay required)
Situated to the west of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Ogoto Hot Springs are the closest hot springs to Kyoto. These hot springs were founded by Saicho, Head Priest of the Mount Hiei Enryaku-ji Temple, now a world cultural heritage site. They have a history of over 1,200 years, and full-fledged facilities have been established there since the early 1900s. Now they are enjoyed by many people.
A simple hot spring with strong alkaline properties, the water is effective at relieving nerve pain, muscle pain, poor circulation, and fatigue, and after bathing the skin is left soft and smooth.
Hieizan Sakamoto Cable (the longest cable line in Japan)
Japan's longest cable car opened in 1927, and has a total length of 2,025 meters. The journey from the foot of the mountain to Enryaku-ji Station takes 11 minutes. Cars depart every 30 minutes, on every hour and every half an hour. After renovations, it reopened in 1993 with European-style cars and larger windows that offer panoramic views of Lake Biwa.
The cable car toward Mt. Hiei-zan was launched in 1927. It is the longest cable car in Japan. You may see Lake Biwa at a glance from it.
Visit the East Pagoda at Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hiei (world cultural heritage site) (About 1 hour required)
The extensive temple grounds on Mount Hiei serve as the head temple of the Tendai Sect. In 1994 they were registered as a world cultural heritage site. The temple was founded when 19 year-old Saicho (767 to 822) climbed Mount Hiei and built a thatch hut there at the end of the Nara period. Since Saicho came back from his sojourn in China and established the Tendai Sect, Mount Hiei has produced many great priests that have furthered Japanese Buddhism. Together with Kongobu-ji, which was founded by Kobo Daishi, it has stood as one of the highest pillars of religion in Japan for around 1,200 years.
The grounds set among the thick cedar groves of Mount Hiei have a dignified atmosphere befitting the site of an ascetic exercise hall of the Tendai Sect. Enryaku-ji is split between the foot and summit of Mount Hiei. The peak is divided into the East Pagoda centered around the Konpon-Chudo, the West Pagoda clustered around Jodo-in, and the Yokokawa area developed by Ennin.
This head temple of the Tendai-shu sect of Buddhism was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage in 1994. Beyond its ancient history of 1,200 years, the temple exercises control over the Tendai sect throughout Japan. The magnificent cedar trees create holly environment for the mountain.
Walk through the town of Sakamoto, known for its priests' residences (features include the famous gardens at Kyu Chikurinin) (About 1 hour required)
A priests' residence that was one of the most prestigious temples of Enryaku-ji. The Japanese garden there is designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty, and is centered around a meandering stream that takes in the clear water of the Omiya River. It is influenced by the scenery of Mount Hachioji. It also features undulating miniature hills, and many surviving examples of stonework such as five-storied stone lanterns and well foundations. The two tea-ceremony rooms and square gazebo built in the Tensho era are designated cultural properties of Otsu. The grounds are lit up when the leaves change color in fall.
Hosho-ji, once situated at Kitashirakawa in Kyoto, was moved to its current location in the early Edo period. It was later given the name Shigain by Emperor Go-Mizunoo. Until the end of the Edo period, it had prestige as the residence of successive generations of imperial family members that served as head priests of the Tendai Sect. It is now known as the remains of the Shigain-Mon. Many priests' residences still stand in the town of Sakamoto, with splendid examples of stone walls built in the Ano style. However, the remains of the Shigain-Mon are surrounded by particularly high stone and whitewashed walls, lending them a grand outward appearance fitting for the head priest of Enryaku-ji. The vast grounds sprawl out over around 20,000 square meters, and feature structures such as an inner Buddhist sanctum, ceremonial hall, drawing room, head priest's quarters, and storehouse. The drawing room has many room partitions painted in the Kano school style from the early Edo period on display, and you can view a renowned Japanese garden from the verandah of the ceremonial hall. *The Japanese garden at Shigain is said to have been developed by famed garden designer Kobori Enshu.
Sakamoto thrived as the temple town for Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, and has around 50 priests' residences. These priests' residences were bestowed upon older priests who had finished their studies up on the mountain, and natural stone was used in the construction of each. They feature beautiful, elaborately-designed gardens that make use of the surrounding landscape. In 1997 the area was selected as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.
Sakamoto is also the birthplace of the Ano-Shu guild of masons that built the stone walls of castles and other buildings. The stone walls of the priests' residences are very strong and make clever use of stacked natural stone, creating a tranquil atmosphere in harmony with the whitewashed walls.
Lunch at Nagisa no Terrace or the Old Otsu Public Hall
Michigan Cruise(About 90 min required)
The Michigan is a pleasant paddle-wheel steamer that cruises the south part of the lake. Aboard you can enjoy music and other events, and sample a variety of food from snacks to buffets and course meals. The top deck offers a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic view from the Michigan's Sky Deck.
Provided by Jun Watanabe
"Japan Project" Coordinator
Planing Group, Product & Service Strategy Development
Marketing & Branding Division
Kurokabe Square walk
Ikiiki Mizubunka Kabatakan
Harie Shozu no Sato
Ogoto Hot Springs
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JAL Japan Explorer Pass is a simple and low cost fare for travelers wishing to explore the unique culture and feel of local Japan. The fare can be used to access over 30 cities across JAL’s domestic network.