Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Fall Foliage Destinations in Shiga Prefecture

Although famed for the beautiful cherry blossom scenery, many places in Shiga Prefecture are worth visiting in autumn. So, if you find yourself at a loose end during fall in Shiga, head down to these spots to experience the astonishing natural wonder of these secret places!

Mt. Hiei (比叡山)

As one of the Three Holiest Places in Japan, the fall foliage at Mt. Hiei would please even the gods! In the mountainous area at the border of Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, the World Heritage Enryakuji Temple has been the training ground for many of the founders of Japan’s sects. It was also the center of many historical events between the 12th century and 1615.

For more information about the attractions in this sacred mountain, please refer to our article on Mt. Hiei.

Kōnan Sanzan (湖南三山)

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Kōnan Sanzan is the collective term given to three Tendai sect temples south of the picturesque Lake Biwa. Each of the temples houses at least one national treasure.

The three temples are best known for the breathtaking fall foilage scenery from mid-November to early December. The trees of these off-the-beaten-path fall foliage destinations drop their red leaves over the 200-meter approach, carpeting the walkway from the Sanmon Gate up to the temples, creating astonishing photo spots.

For more information about how to get to the three temples and other highlights in the precincts, please refer to our article on Kōnan Sanzan.

Daichi-ji Temple (大池寺)

With its almost-submerged torii gate, beautiful garden, and worship halls, this secret place is one of the must-see temples in Shiga Prefecture.

Originally conceived as a solution to a water shortage in the area, the four lakes rather romantically form the Japanese word for ‘heart’ on a map! These lakes still supply water to the surrounding rice fields 1250 years after they were first built.

The fall foliage scenery is particularly stunning in the Japanese garden filled with symbolism at the east of the Shoin Hall The season is from late October to early December, peaking around mid-November.

For more information, please refer to our Kōka City article.

Kōshinsan Kōtoku-ji Temple (庚申山広徳寺)

Once again located in Kōka City, Kōshinsan Kōtoku-ji Temple is located at the peak of Mt. Kōshin. This guarantees an exquisite panoramic view over Kōka City, which presents a wonderful photo opportunity. This is particularly true in late November when the leaves of the ginkgo trees have fallen across the precinct.

There are various historical miracles surrounding the mountain and the temple, involving purple clouds and the discovery of an alloy of zinc and copper. Sadly the original main worship hall burnt down but was rebuilt in 2017, restoring this secret place to its former glory.

For more information, please refer to our Kōka City article.

Taga Taisha (多賀大社)

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This hidden gem will surely blow you away even if you are tired after visiting all the already mentioned scenic spots!

As one of the oldest shrines, Taga Taisha is over 1,300 years old. The famous Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu Ōkami’s parents are enshrined here. So it is worth visiting the shrine to pray for your longevity, improve your marriage ties, and perform exorcisms.

As well as to see the fall foliage, you may be enticed to visit as it is said that any wish left on a Jumyō-ishi (white pebble) will come true. If all this isn’t enough to entice you off the beaten path to visit this shrine, then perhaps the unique rice cake is something that could convince you to visit because it can’t be found anywhere else!

For more information, please refer to our article on Taga Taisha.

Shōsakai Park (庄堺公園)

Shōsakai Park is famed for its spring blossoming flowers which are segregated into designated gardens of roses, irises, and herbs. However, a visit in autumn to Shōsakai Park is just as beautiful due to the array of fall foliage.

Between mid-October and early November, the 1,250 rose plants give off an elegant perfume over the entire park and add to the park’s vibrant autumnal hues. The hidden gem thus gives a different experience from most on this list.

For more information, please refer to our article on Hikone City.

Keisoku-ji (鶏足寺)

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Ⓒ 公益社団法人長浜観光協会

Located away from the city center of Nagahama city, Keisoku-ji is a must-see spot during the fall season. Although still very beautiful, the temple we have today is not the original but a sub-temple that used to belong to it.

In autumn, the best photo spot in Keisoku-ji’s precinct is the approach to the temple with an incredible 200 maple trees lining the way, dropping their red leaves to create a stunning red carpet.

For more information, please refer to our Keisoku-ji article.

Shakudō-ji Temple (石道寺)

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Found on the way up to Keisoku-ji temple, the location of the Shakudō Temple means visiting both of them only costs you the price of one!

This temple again has no resident monks but is looked after by the locals. In addition to the splendid natural scenery, the once highly decorated statue of Kannon with 11 faces is another highlight. This statue is now considered an Important National Cultural Property, and many people come here to pray for child giving.

For more information, please refer to the second half of our Keisoku-ji article.

Shizugatake (賤ヶ岳)

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Ⓒ 賤ヶ岳リフト

If you love Japanese history, you probably know the famous Battle of Shizugatake of 1583. However, you may not be aware of the beautiful fall foliage at this off-the-beaten-path spot!

Despite its bloody history, the area today is just peaceful and has a calming atmosphere. One of the advantages of this hidden gem is the aerial lift. It means you can adore the beautiful scenery without much effort!

In addition to the autumn foliage, Shizugatake is also a place to encounter some wild animals, including deer, flying squirrels, and monkeys.

For more information, please refer to our Shizugatake article.

Momiji Pond (もみじ池)

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Ⓒ びわ湖高島観光協会

Located a stone’s throw from the Sanami-dera Temple in Takashima City, Momiji Pond is a gorgeous spot for some fall colors. Although the old wooden bridge over the pond is too old to be walked on, the maple trees, which give the pond its name, are beautiful from the banks at any time of year. However, this is particularly the case during the fall season, meaning this hidden gem is one not to be missed!

For more information, please refer to our article on Takashima City.

Avenue of Metasequoia (メタセコイア並木)

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This 2.4km road is lined by 500 metasequoia trees which turn all shades of yellow, orange, and red during the autumn months. Each tree is as tall as 115 meters and is still growing, meaning if you have been to this hidden gem before, it is still worth another visit!

The fall foliage is at its best from mid-November to early December, although the avenue is a sight to behold at all times of the year!

For more information, please refer to our article on Takashima City.

Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠)

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At the border between Shiga and Fukui Prefectures, you will encounter the impossibly beautiful Onyu Pass. This natural wonder requires a car to reach but is well worth the trek off the beaten path, especially on a slightly cloudy morning from late October to early November.

At 820 meters, its height gives visitors the perfect opportunity to watch the sunrise lighting up the clouds, mountain peaks, and the headlights of the motorway below.

For more information, please refer to our article on Takashima City.

Ishiyama-dera (石山寺)

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Ⓒ びわ湖大津観光協会

As a literature sanctuary and a prime spot for some autumn foliage viewing, Ishiiama-dera is a place not to be missed! 2,000 red-leaved trees can be viewed from mid-November to early December, with a special light-up event at some point from mid-to-late November to show off their beauty.

This temple has many other features that warrant a visit from any tourist, such as the gigantic wollastonite, which gives the temple its name. At other times of the year, plum blossoms, as well as peonies, azaleas, irises, wisteria, and many other blooming flowers, can be seen!

For more information, please refer to our Ishiyama-dera article.

Ōjigaoka Park (皇子が丘公園)

From the end of October, the foliage in Ōjigaoka Park starts to change from its usual green hues to deeper oranges and red, making it another off-the-beaten-path spot perfect for fall foliage hunting. The peak of the season is from mid-November to early December, and, as it is only a five-minute walk from Keihan Ōtsukyō Station, there is really no excuse not to visit!

Ōjigaoka Park is also well known for its cherry blossom scenery from mid to late March, which consists of 300 trees displaying their pink flowers for your amusement.

For more information, please refer to our article on Ōtsu City.

The Former Chikurin-in Temple (旧竹林院)

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With its garden declared a National Place of Scenery Beauty in 1998, the Former Chikurin-in Temple is one hidden gem on this list that you shouldn’t miss.

This temple boasts the biggest garden of all Satobō in Japan and enchants its visitors with the impossibly stunning garden reflections upon the low lacquerware table in the central house. The autumn light-up event also gives visitors ample opportunity to see the temple and garden in all its photogenic glory.

For more information, please refer to our article on the Former Chikurin-in.

Saikyō-ji Temple (西教寺)

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As a training ground for chanting the name of the Buddha, Saikyō-ji Temple perhaps doesn’t sound like a place with a serene setting to enjoy the peaceful autumn foliage. However, this continuous chanting commands respect, especially as not a day has gone by without the name of the Buddha being chanted since the 15th century!

With four unique gardens and an autumn light-up event, the surrounding landscape of the Saikyō-ji is also well worth a visit, with the season peaks from mid to late November into early December.

Mt. Hiei is also on the doorstep, and with a cable car from the temple up the mountain, this is one of the secret places perfect for exploring Japan’s natural beauty.

For more information, please refer to our Saikyō-ji Temple.

Hiyoshi Taisha (日吉大社)

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As one of the locations where the live-action films of the anime Rurouni Kenshin were shot, the shrine is a must-visit for anime buffs and all fall foliage lovers.

Hiyoshi Taisha contains within its bounds the Three Bridges of Hiyoshi and several picturesque tower gates. The precinct is also littered with monkeys, both living in the zoo and as decoration.

For more information about the shrine, please refer to our article on Hiyoshi Taisha.

MIHO MUSEUM (ミホ・ミュージアム)

The last spot perfect for cherry blossom admiration is the MIHO Museum buried in the mountainous area south of Lake Biwa.

While the museum’s design immediately stuns its visitors upon their arrival, what enchants its visitors in November is the vivid fall color that the surrounding peaks are dyed in.

The museum, filled with amazing exhibits from various eras, is also a great spot to enjoy the cherry blossom scenery along the 500-meter promenade.

For more information, please refer to our Kōka City article.

Oozuchi Dam (青土ダム)

The last hidden gem we want to bring to your attention is Oozuchi Dam at Ugui River’s upstream. You will be amazed by the impressive natural scenery at the dam lake.

The dam is a secluded, peaceful spot that offers you awesome photography opportunities all year round. From mid to late November, the foliage of the trees will turn into bright autumn colors for you to enjoy.

For more information, please refer to our Kōka City article.

Discover the Best Cherry Blossom Destinations in Shiga Prefecture

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Click the photo for all the top spots to visit for cherry blossom hunting in Shiga Prefecture!

Are you heading to Japan to adore the gorgeous cherry blossoms? If the answer is yes, check out our articles on Shiga Prefecture’s Top Cherry Blossom Destinations.

Many of the places we mention in the article are hidden gems. It means you won’t be pushed around when you get there!

The Top Attractions in Shiga Prefecture that Are Awesome All Year Round

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Click the photo for more travel ideas in Shiga Prefecture!

If what you are after isn’t just a spot to adore natural scenery, you will want to check out our article on the Best Attractions in Shiga that are great to stop by throughout the year.

This includes a shrine with its torii gate standing in Lake Biwa as well as a ninja house that was the residence of the head of a ninja school in the Edo period!

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