Nagahama (or Shiga Prefecture more generally) is not well served by airports. While the nearest airport is Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka’s two airports (Itami and Kansai) are at least as convenient, if not more.
Travelling from Centrair or Kansai Airports to Nagahama is basically a case of taking a train towards Nagoya or Osaka respectively and then continuing on as described below. Two morning Haruka trains run direct to Kansai Airport from Maibara, returning in the evening.
From Itami, the best option is to take a bus to either Shin-Osaka or Kyoto station, and continue from there on the train.
Nagahama is served by two trains per hour to Maibara (10 minutes, ¥200), the nearest Shinkansen station. These are in fact Special Rapid services, which offer a fast direct service to many places in Kansai.
- Ōmihachiman: 36 minutes, ¥670
- Ōtsu: 1 hour, ¥1140
- Kyoto: 1 hour 10 minutes, ¥1320
- Osaka: 1 hour 40 minutes, ¥1940
- Kobe: 2 hours 10 minutes, ¥2590
- Himeji: 2 hours 40 minutes, ¥3670
Note that these trains usually run as 12-car trains to Maibara, but only the front 4 (or sometimes 8) cars continue to Nagahama, so make sure you travel in the front part of the train.
Taking the Shinkansen to Maibara, times and prices are as follows:
- Tokyo (using Hikari): 2 hours 40 minutes and ¥12,400
- Nagoya: 1 hour, ¥3740
- Kyoto: 40 minutes, ¥3570
- Shin-Osaka: 1 hour, ¥4940
Note that Shinkansen trains which stop at Maibara usually do not go west of Shin-Osaka.
Nagahama is also served by six Shirasagi Limited Expresses a day between Maibara and Kanazawa, of which three continue beyond Maibara to Nagoya. Taking these, times and prices are as follows:
- Kanazawa: 1 hour 40 minutes, ¥5700
- Fukui: 1 hour, ¥3360
- Tsuruga: 27 minutes, ¥1940
- Gifu: 50 minutes, ¥2670
- Nagoya: 1 hour 15 minutes, ¥3190
Additional trains pass through without stopping, which require you to change at Maibara or Tsuruga.
If avoiding Limited Expresses, allow 1 hour 5 minutes and ¥670 to reach Tsuruga. During the day, trains run only once an hour, and you may have to change at Ōmi-Shiotsu. Nagoya is 1 hour 40 minutes away and ¥1490 by Local and Rapid trains; you will need to change at Maibara, and sometimes Ōgaki.
As an alternative to the Japan Rail Pass, Nagahama is covered by JR West‘s Kansai Area Pass, the Kansai WIDE Area Pass, the Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass, the Sanyō-San’in Area Pass, and the Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass, which are available to Temporary Visitors with foreign passports. None of these passes cover the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (east of Shin-Osaka). Nagahama is also covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass: this allows travel from Tokyo but only the long way round via Kanazawa, a journey that will take no fewer than 5 hours.
Most of Nagahama’s tourist destinations and hotels are within easy walking distance of the station.
There are buses available, but they are mostly used by locals to commute to places on the outskirts of the city proper.
There are veritable hordes of taxis just waiting for your patronage outside the station, should you need to get somewhere a bit farther away.
Bikes can also be rented, but you would need to speak Japanese to do this. The bike rental place is located near the west exit of the station.
Ferries connect Nagahama to the island of Chikubu in Lake Biwa.
- 1 Nagahama Castle (長浜城), 10-10 Kōen-chō (7 minutes walk from the West Exit of Nagahama Station (towards the lake). It should be visible!), ☎+81 749-63-4611. 9AM-5PM (last admission 4:30PM). Nagahama Castle was built in 1575-1576 by Hashiba Hideyoshi (later known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi) in the village then called Kunitomo, renaming the area Nagahama. In 1615, the castle was demolished, though parts of it were utilized in the construction of Hikone Castle. The castle as it was rebuilt in 1983 and houses a museum (in Japanese only) about the history of Nagahama. Nagahama Castle is located in the middle of Hokoen Park, which is the only place you’ll find nature in Nagahama, and has a stunning view of Lake Biwa. In Spring, it is a favorite place to picnic under the cherry trees. ¥400 adults, ¥200 children. (updated May 2018)
- 1 Hikiyama Museum (長浜市曳山博物館 nagahama hikiyama hakubutsukan), 14-8 Motohama-chō (8 minutes from Nagahama Station East Exit, Located in Kurokabe Square), ☎+81 749-65-3300. 9AM-5PM (last admission 4:30PM). Nagahama Hikiyama (Float) Matsuri (festival) having more than 400 years of history is known as one of the three great float festivals of Japan. In this museum, the gorgeous and splendid floats that are paraded around the city during the Hikiyama Festival are exhibited. A movie showing highlights of the festival, such as kabuki played by boys aging from 5 to 12 just like the old days, are screened. ¥600 adults, ¥300 children. (updated May 2018)
- 1 Kaiyoudou Figurine Museum (海洋堂フィギュアミュージアム黒壁 kaiyōdō figyuā myūjiamu kurokabe), 13-31 Motohama-cho, ☎+81 749-68-1680. 10AM-5PM. An otaku’s paradise! Figurines of all shapes and sizes inhabit this museum, a recent boom for collection, depicting dinosaurs, anime characters, etc., are exhibited in a diorama style. Those figures are sold in the shop on the first floor of the museum. There are some seriously heavy-duty collector’s items in here! ￥800/adult , ￥500/child (both include souvenir figure).
- 1 Daitsūji Temple (大通寺), 32-9 Motohama-chō (12 minutes walk northeast from Nagahama Station, at the eastern-most end of Kurokabe Square, behind the very tall black and white condo building.), ☎+81 749-62-0054. 9AM-4:30PM. It is said that Daitsuji was built from the remains of Fushimi Castle in Kyoto. In the temple building, there are sliding door paintings by Oukyo Maruyama and by painters of the Kano school reflecting the gorgeous atmosphere of Momoyama culture. Daitsuji’s garden is designated as a national scenic garden. Along the street approaching Daitsuji, there are many shops built in the Machiya style, the traditional merchants’ housing style. ¥500 adults, ¥100 students. (updated May 2018)
- 1 Jinshōji Temple (神照寺), 323 Shinjōterachō (Buses to Jinshōji-mae leave from Stop 1 at Nagahama Station and cost ¥280), ☎+81 749-62-1629. Jinshōji is the oldest temple in Nagahama and was founded in 895 (Kanpyo 7). There are many valuable cultural assets such as statue of a multi-armed deity, and a Cetaka statue looking over his shoulder. Kinginto Sukashibori Keko (flower basket motif in lace worked arabesque carving in gold and silver), a national treasure, is especially worth noting since it has been exhibited in the Boston Museum of Art and other famous international art museums. (updated May 2018)
- Hachiman-gū Shrine (八幡宮), 13-55 Miyamae-cho (14 minutes walk east from Nagahama Station), ☎+81 749-62-0481. This shrine has over 1000 years of history. It is a shrine protecting the community of Nagahama. Every April 15, you can attend the Hikiyama Matsuri! (updated May 2018)
- 1 Ōmi Kōhō-an Temple (近江孤篷庵), 135 Uwano-cho (30 minutes drive from Nagahama Station, or 20 minutes drive from Torahime or Kawake Stations). 9AM-5PM, closed on November 17. Ōmi Kōhō-an is a temple located in the tranquility of the mountains and greenery which consoles the spirit of Enshuu Kobori (1579 – 1647), Lord of Komuro Castle, known as one of the three great tea ceremony masters. Enshuu constructed Kōhō-an in Daitoku Ji (temple) in Kyoto, and this temple in contrast is called Ōmi Kōhō-an. The garden of this temple is well noted for using the natural environment applying Karesansui (dry garden style) and Chisen Kaiyuu Shiki Teien (Japanese garden style with layout of pond, miniature mountains, bridge, etc., where visitors can walk around). The garden is designated as scenic spot by the prefectural government and is known as the best spot for autumn leaves in Kohoku (Northern part of Lake Biwa) ¥300. (updated May 2018)
- 1 Nagahama Railway Square (長浜鉄道スクエア nagahama tetsudō sukuea), 1-41 Kita Funa-cho (3 minute walk south of the station’s west exit.), ☎+81 749-63-4091. 9:30AM-4:30PM, closed Dec 29 – Jan 3. There are three buildings within the Square. The old Nagahama station house is the oldest existing station house in Japan and its stationmaster’s room and waiting room are kept as they were in the old days. In the second building, the Nagahama Railway Cultural Pavilion, a large number of valuable materials about railways are exhibited. In the third building, the Museum for Commemoration of the Electrification of the Hokuriku Line, you can see steam locomotives which were in full operation before the line was made electric. Adults ¥300, children 15 and under: ¥150. 20% discount for group with more than 20 people..