Japan City Guides: Omi Hachiman
Tokyo | Kyoto | Osaka | Atami | Fukuoka | Hakone | Himeji | Hiroshima | Ibaraki | Ise & Toba | Kamakura | Kanazawa | Kirishima | Kobe | Koyasan | Magome & Tsumago | Nagasaki | Nagoya | Nara | Niigata | Nikko | Oita & Beppu | Okayama & Kurashiki | Okinawa | Omi Hachiman | Saitama | Sakurajima | Sapporo | Sendai | Shizuoka & Hamamatsu | Shodoshima | Toyohashi | Tsukuba | Yanagawa | Yokohama
Omi Hachiman 近江八幡
Sightseeing: Things to see and do in Omihachiman
Omi Hachiman is a small castle town in Shiga Prefecture located along the ancient highway that ran from Tokyo to Kyoto. It was built in 1585 close to the eastern end of Lake Biwa, which is the largest lake in Japan.
Prior to the invention of the train and automobile, it was a hub for canal transportation, delivering goods and people to nearby Kyoto. Omi Hachiman developed into a commercial town following the construction of a castle by Toyotomi Hidetsugu in the 16th century.
The town was divided until the mid-nineteenth century by Hachiman-bori (pictured below right). North of this canal lived samurai, south the common people. Other areas were reserved, for example, for merchants.
Today Shin-machi Dori Street is the area where the former merchants lived. In particular, the grand home of the Nishikawas, a local family, is now open to the public. The Kyodo Shiryo-kan, a local history museum, is nearby. Next door is the History and Folklore Museum.
On Hachiman-bori are white-walled storehouses (kura) and 19th-century houses such as Haku-un-kan (pictured top right), which was designed by William Vories (1880-1964), an American missionary and architect who left a legacy of elegant homes and buildings in Kyoto and its surroundings including the original Kyoto YMCA building of 1908. The Haku-un-kan is located directly in front of the canal, which if crossed will take you to several shrines and the ropeway.
Another place of interest is the Kawara Museum, or Tile Museum, that features tiles from all parts of Japan. For a more complete list, please see below.
Today, the Omi Hachiman's old quarter near the canal is a well-preserved area that is well suited for tourism. It is also frequently used as a film location for period dramas.
William Vories Museum
Getting to Omi Hachiman
From Kyoto Station, JR's Shin Kaisoku express train takes 33 minutes to Omi Hachiman Station. One-way fare is 650 yen.
From Tokyo, it takes 2 hours 20 minutes to Maibara Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. From there, it is 22 minutes from Maibara Station to Omi Hachiman Station by JR Tokaido Honsen Line.
From Omi Hachiman Station, you can take a bus--a 10-minute ride but with infrequent service--into the old section of town, a cab if you are in a group, or walk the two miles or so. Maps are available at the Station.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Kyoto Here