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.
- 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!), ☏ . 09:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30). 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 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.
- 2 Hikiyama Museum (長浜市曳山博物館 nagahama hikiyama hakubutsukan), 14-8 Motohama-chō (8 minutes from Nagahama Station East Exit, in Kurokabe Square), ☏ . 09:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30). 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.
- 3 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, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. 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).
- 4 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.), ☏ . 09:00-16:30. 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.
- 5 Jinshōji Temple (神照寺), 323 Shinjōterachō (Buses to Jinshōji-mae leave from Stop 1 at Nagahama Station and cost ¥280), ☏ . 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.
- Hachiman-gū Shrine (八幡宮), 13-55 Miyamae-cho (14 minutes walk east from Nagahama Station), ☏ . 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!
- 6 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). 09:00-17:00, 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.
- 7 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.), ☏ . 09:30-16:30, 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..
- Hikiyama Festival (曳山祭り). Every April 15th. Begins at Hachimangu Shrine and snakes its way towards Kurokabe Square. Young boys perform traditional kabuki plays on floats.
- Nagahama and Kita-Biwako Fireworks Festival (長浜と北琵琶湖花火大会). Every August 5th, a massive fireworks festival launched in the harbor area of Lake Biwa. Green Hotel Yes Nagahama Minato-kan offers the best view, but generally any rooftop will do nicely. Remember to wear your yukata!
- Nagahama Shusse Festival. This festival started in 1983 commemorating the reconstruction of Nagahama Castle. It's now a major October event in Nagahama. The festival includes various events, most notably the “Great Kimono Garden Party” where thousands of young women from near and far dress up in extraordinarily ornate kimono and parade about town.
- Art in Nagahama. Artists from various fields gather from all over Japan to exhibit, demonstrate, and sell their works in various spots in Kurokabe Square. In other words, this event is an open air market for artists. Usually takes place during the Shusse Festival.
- 1 Nagahama Bonbai Exhibition (長浜盆梅展 nagahama bonbaiten), Keiun-kan, 2-5 Minato-chō (at the Keiunkan (慶雲館)). January 20 - March 10: 09:00-17:00. Bonbai is a Japanese apricot tree in bonsai style. This annual exhibition began in 1952 when the late Shichizo Takayama donated his bonbai to Nagahama City. A 400-year-old tree is among the exhibits. The Nagahama Bonbai Exhibition has been referred as the No. 1 bonbai exhibition, both historically and scale-wise. Adults ¥500, children 15 and under: ¥200.
Nagahama is famous for its glass art. There are many places in Kurokabe Square to see, buy, and even learn to make glass art! The following are two of the more well-known ones.
- 1 Kurokabe Glass Shop (黒壁ガラス館), 12-38 Motohama-cho, 1 Kurokabe (go east on Ekimaedori, lefthand sidewalk; follow the little signposts), ☏ . 10:00-18:00. The namesake of Kurokabe Square, which was built in 1890 as Daihyaku Sanju Bank Nagahama Branch. Two storeys of glass art, jewelry, stemware, etc. The first floor is a shop for glass accessories and sundries, while the second floor displays glassworks from all over the world which are also available for purchase. free.
- 2 Studio Kurokabe (スタジオクロカベ), 12-38 Motohama-cho, 2 Kurokabe (directly behind Kurokabe Glass Shop), ☏ . 10:00-18:00. Everything sold in this studio is handmade by artists who work in-house. There's a window where you can watch them at work.
- Yum Thai (ヤム タイ), 251 Yawata-nakayama-chō (30 minutes walk or 7 minutes drive from Nagahama Station East Exit, just north of the Seiyū), ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30-14:30PM and 17:30-22:00. Cheap Thai food in Japanese suburbia. Who'd've thought? Yum Thai is very delicious and the staff is friendly. Some of the waitstaff speak English, but the chef/owner lady only speaks Thai and Japanese. Most dishes are around ¥1000.
- Yakiniku Den (焼肉でん), 80 Yawata-nakayama-chō (just east of the Police Station, 10 minutes drive from Nagahama Station, or 3 minutes drive from Nagahama Interchange), ☏ . 17:00-23:00. Meat nirvana. Also a good place to get kimchi. Expensive but so worth it. Women's prices are cheaper than men's!.
- 1 Nagahama Roman Beer (長濱浪漫ビール), 14-1 Asahi-cho (5 minutes walk southeast from Nagahama Station East Exit, just across the Yone River), ☏ . M W-F 11:30-15:00 and 17:00-22:00, Sa 11:30-22:00, Sundays 11:30-21:00. Nagahama's only brewery. Decent beer and nice atmosphere, but the food is pricey. Ranging from ¥380 to ¥2600 for beers. Food averages ¥1000 per dish.
- One Coin (Counter's One Coin), 神照町489 (if you can find North Elementary School, you're not very far away!), ☏ . Tu-Su 19:00-01:00. It's a pain to get to it, but once you're there, it's awesome! Sumi and his incredibly old mother love foreigners of every stripe. Sumi speaks incredible English and has a basic grasp of Portuguese and Spanish. If you're a new face, his mother will want to interview you. She'll even take notes. ¥600 for all drinks. Food costs more..
- 2 Curry & Bar Sai (カレー＆バー サイ), 元浜町(Motohama-cho) 7-14 2nd Fl. (across from the main Kurokabe store), ☏ . 18:00-00:30. Sai has a variety of foods and cocktails. Try curry or omelet rice with Heartland (special Kirin beer). It basically opens until customers leave. ￥800-2000.
- 1 Kitabiwako Hotel Grazie (北ビワコホテルグラツィエ), 4-17 Minato-cho (10 minutes walk south from Nagahama Station West Exit, on the yacht harbor in the southern end of Hokoen Park), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. A waterfront hotel inspired by Verona, Nagahama's Italian sister city. Has decent in-house restaurants. One of the finer hotels in Nagahama. ranging from ¥11,000 to ¥55,000 per night.
- 2 Nagahama Royal Hotel (長浜ロイヤルホテル), 38 Oshima-cho (12 minutes walk south from Nagahama Station West Exit. Also in Hokoen, between Kitabiwako Hotel Grazie and the castle), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Has several in-house restaurants. Also has onsen (hot springs). It's probably the ritziest hotel Nagahama has.
- 3 Green Hotel Yes Nagahama Ekimae-kan (グリーンホテルYES長浜駅前館), 9-30 Minami Gofuku-cho (2 minutes walk from Nagahama Station East Exit, near Kurokabe Square.), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00.
- Green Hotel Yes Nagahama Minato-kan (グリーンホテルYES長浜みなと館), 2-28 Minato-cho (5 minutes walk south from Nagahama Station West Exit), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Prices start from ¥7000.
- 4 Art Hotel Nagahama (アートホテル長浜), 八幡中山町28-1 (from station east exit, about an 8- to 10-minute drive east on Ekimae-dori, then north on Route 8), ☏ . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 100:00. A national chain; calls itself a "business hotel", but it definitely appeals to travelers seeking a hotel minus frills but with amenities you wouldn't find in a hostel. It's comparable to another national chain called Toyoko Inn, and priced similarly.
- Hamakogetsu (浜湖月), 4-25 Koen-cho (6 minutes walk from Nagahama Station West Exit, north of the castle. Shuttle buses from the station can be reserved), ☏ . A Japanese-style hotel.
- Sugatani Onsen Hotel (須賀谷温泉), 36 Sugatani-cho (Shuttles can be reserved from Kawake Station), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. A Japanese-style hotel, most notable for its onsen. Prices start from ¥17,000.
- Onoe Onsen Beniayu (尾上温泉紅鮎), 312 Kohokucho Onoe (Shuttles can be reserved from Takatsuki Station (高月駅) West Exit), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. This Japanese onsen hotel is not in Nagahama proper, but it is the only Japanese cultural experience nearby with information in English. About ¥25,000 per night (this includes lavish meals and onsen access).
- L'Hôtel du Lac (ロテル・デュ・ラク), 2064 Nishiazaichō Ōura (shuttles can be reserved from either Ōmi-Shiotsu Station, or Nagahara Station on the Kosei Line; the latter is slightly better for trains to Kyoto and points west), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00-21:00, check-out: 12:00. A hotel on the outskirts of the outskirts of Nagahama. Basically in the middle of nowhere.