Lake Biwa in Shiga ~Go on excursion of the lake district~
For six months after October, “The culture of water” campaign will take place in Shiga, especially around lake Biwa.
Before the campaign starts, I decided to visit the eastern and northern sides of lake Biwa. The themes of my excursions are “water and life”, “water and prayer”, and “water and food”.
I walked around, talk to locals, and ate local cuisine to re-discover the charm of this beautiful area and “The culture of water”.
Charming point 1: Taste “Oumi beef”, one of the top three types of Japanese beef.
A 40 minute ride on a rapid train from JR Kyoto station took me to Omi Hachiman station. In front of the station, I hopped on the Omi bus and stayed on until Osugicho. From there, I went to Marutake Oumi Nishikawa where one can entertain their tastebuds with Oumi beef.
I strongly recommend “Oumi beef Sukiyaki Gozen” at lunch time. 3,780(inc.tax).
It was nice to eat the beef both alone and with vegetables.
The Oumi beef melted in my mouth. When I compare it to the beef I have eaten throughout my life, it was on another level!
Charming point 2: The 410 year old national treasure, Hikone castle.
There are only 5 castles in Japan listed as national treasures. Hikone castle is one of them.
The Ii family, which was one of the four paladins of the Tokugawa Shogun(general), built this castle.
It played an important role as a western fort which protected the capital city, Edo. If you are a history buff you will find the military equipment in the castle very interesting.
You can see the original keep of the castle which was built in the early 1600s. The castle survived the Boshin war as well. Go explore the original construction of the Edo era and see 410 years of history.
Charming point 3: Japanese heritage, Hogonji on Chikubu island
Chikubu island is listed as one of the Biwako Hakkei (best 8 scenic spots around Biwako). Since the Nara era, people have come to the island to worship.
There is a Hogonji temple on the island. The Honzon-daibennzaiten is one of 3 Benzaiten in Japan.
Buddhist pilgrims visit this temple as the 30th temple of the 33 Buddhist Kannon temples throughout the Kansai region.
2018 marks the 1300th year since the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage started so they will be having special viewings at many pilgrimage temples in 2017. At Hogonji, the three story pagoda will be open from October 15th to 31st.
Charm4: Omihachiman canal district tour
While on the riverboat, I was taken back in time to the Jidaigeki film time. The boat was not motorized. The Sendo (water men) row the boats slowly using long strokes. You’ll enjoy the tranquility of the experience as birds chirp in beautiful untouched nature.
The boats have roofs, so you won’t be under direct sunlight. The breeze from the lake is pleasant. Enjoy a luxurious boat ride!