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December 23, 2019 - Nagahama - Shiga Prefecture
After visiting Chikubu Island on Lake Biwa in the morning, I came back by boat to see what Nagahama had to offer. This well preserved town is close to the best in relation to mixture of sites to visit I have seen at present - which will be seen below.
Nagahama Castle is located a short 5 minute walk from Nagahama Station - but before you come I suggest collecting an English map from the tourist office. The office along with many of the major sites also sell a Nagahama Roman Passport - which costs 1000 yen and allows you to enter 5 different sites of your choosing. This is close to the best value pass I have seen period!
Nagahama Castle is a reconstruction which costs 450 yen to enter or is also a part of the Nagahama Passport. There are some nice scrolls and other artifacts on the 2nd and 3rd floors where no photos are allowed.
My second stop was the Ando Family Residence which costs 450 yen to enter or is also a part of the Nagahama Passport. The medium sized residence was home to an artist and includes a pretty garden with places to sit and watch the world go by. The only thing that is missing is a person selling green tea.
Located right next to the Ando house is the quirky Figure Museum which costs 800 yen (with figurine) to enter but it's also part of the Nagahama Passport. As expected - you don't get the figurine with the passport entry.
The first floor seemed to have a rolling exhibit which changes from time to time. It does not look like much to start but there was a lot of detail in each exhibit and took a lot longer than most museums of this site I normally visit.
The second floor had 4 or 5 large figures and countless smaller figures with a big emphasis on Evangelion. A few of the figurines also leave little to the imagination - as can be seen below!
One of my favorite parts of Nagahama was the traditional streets which occur over multiple streets - not just a short section like more traditional towns. As such, it's definitely one of the better preserved towns in Japan.
As I was getting hungry and not everything was open as it was a Monday (more on that later!), I stumbled across a Soba shop which had a nice set of sobas where you could choose between Kansai and Kanto Daishi sauce.
One of the slight disappointments was the Hikiyama Float Museum which costs 600 yen to enter or is a part of the Nagahama Passport. Photography was only allowed of the floats but how they have been set up does not allow for easy viewing or good photos. However - the floats coming out would look absolutely spectacular as they are basically portable Noh Stages. Every year - there are small children who play Noh on these floats.
One place I would have loved to have fully visited was Daitsu-ji Temple which has a nice garden and some screens which was closed due to it being closed for winter. It normally costs 500 yen to enter or is also a part of the Nagahama Passport.
My fifth stop was the Noh Museum which allows no photography inside. It includes a good number of Noh masks and costumes but no English is anywhere to be found. I would miss this site as there are better sites to use your Nagahama Passport stamps on. It also costs 500 yen to enter without the passport stamp.
One of the biggest tortures I've had in a long time is seeing a high quality garden from my hotel room but it's closed for preparations for their Plum Blossom Bonsai Exhibition which opens in January. Keiunkan normally costs 300 yen to enter or can also be entered with a Nagahama Passport. I also mentioned that there were other sites closed due to it being a Monday or holidays. These include: Yanmar Museum (large interactive Tractor Museum, Keiunkan & Daitsuji Temple). There are also 7 other sites within a short drive which are a part of the Nagahama Passport.
My last stop for this post was actually my last stop of the previous day - Nagahama Railway Square which includes Japan's oldest preserved station, lots of model trains and two full sized trains you can get up and close with. It costs 300 yen to enter or is also a part of the Nagahama Passport as well.
Nagahama is a traditional merchant town with some of the prettiest streetscapes I have seen in Japan - period! It's also a little over an hour from Kyoto station which means it's got good transport links - but so many famous towns such as Nara or Hikone means this town gets overlooked.
When I visit most traditional towns in Japan - they tend to focus on one or two main things. This town has got a bit of everything - it's even known for it's glassware! Add the morning with Chikubu Island and it's a great day out. Tomorrow, I'll be making my way to Iga Ueno via Higashi-omi and Omi-Hachiman.
Nagahama Castle (https://www.city.nagahama.lg.jp/section/rekihaku/)
Tetsudo Square (http://kitabiwako.jp/tetsudou/)
Nagahama Floats Museum (http://www.nagahama-hikiyama.or.jp/foreign/eng.html)
Daitsu-ji Temple (http://www.daitsuji.or.jp/)
Figurine Museum (http://www.ryuyukan.net/)
Yanmar Museum (https://www.yanmar.com/jp/museum/)