Chikubushima Island

OVERVIEW

A Spiritual Island in Lake Biwa

A prime example of the harmonious blend between Shinto and Buddhist customs in Japanese heritage, Chikubushima Island holds deep cultural and spiritual significance. Enveloped in a tapestry of historical narratives and folklore, this serene island, spanning just 2 km in circumference, hosts one Buddhist temple and one Shinto shrine, with roots tracing back over 1300 years. Upon ascending the 165 stone steps, visitors encounter the esteemed Hogon-ji Temple, one of the “Three Benzaiten” sites in Japan famous for venerating the Benzaiten deity, alongside Enoshima and Miyajima. The temple gate, a designated national treasure known as Karamon, showcases remnants from Osaka Castle, offering a glimpse into the artistry of the Momoyama era. Originally part of Osaka Castle, the gate was relocated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s son after Hideyoshi’s passing, preserving this cherished relic and symbolizing the island’s deep ties to Hideyoshi’s wife, who hailed from this region.

Further along, the Tsukubusuma Shrine, accessed via a corridor crafted from boat wood belonging to the Toyotomi Clan, pays homage to Benzaiten as a sacred water deity. The island’s lore intertwines with the legend of Princess Asaihime, revered as the guardian who ensures safe passage for boats in the area. Today, Chikubushima remains a sacred sanctuary within Lake Biwa, drawing pilgrims and visitors seeking blessings. Additionally, the shrine hosts the “Kawarake-Nage” ritual, in which anyone is invited to hopefully have their wishes fulfilled by casting clay dishes toward a torii gate on the rocky shore. Access to the island is facilitated by ferries departing from Nagahama Port or Hikone Port, with a journey time of approximately 30 minutes.

Open Hrs

During ferry operating hours

Closings

In case of severe weather

Admission

Ferry: ¥3200 (adult) / ¥1600 (children)
Temple: ¥600

Payment

Ferry: cash and major credit cards
Temple: cash-only

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