Shiga prefecture is part of the quirky and friendly Kansai region. It includes the vast waters of Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The north shore of the lake is a great place to view cherry blossoms in the spring while the western shore has sandy beaches that are popular in summer. The mountains encircling the lake offer extensive hiking trails and lovely views. History and culture buffs should note that Shiga has one of the highest concentrations of national treasures and important cultural properties in Japan, including the World Heritage Hiei-zan Enryaku-ji Temple and the extremely well-preserved Hikone Castle.