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Omi Hachiman

Omi Hachiman (ߍ], Ōmihachiman) is a city in Shiga Prefecture that is known for its nicely preserved old town and canal where visitors can enjoy traditional boat cruises through the historic townscape. Omi Hachiman rose to prominence during the feudal era as the base of the local merchants, the Omi merchants, whose trade activities were famed across the country and provided them with great wealth.

The town was originally developed in the late 1500s when a nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a castle there. The castle was demolished only a decade later after Hideyoshi ordered his nephew to commit ritual suicide for allegedly plotting a coup; however, the town prospered as a business hub in part due to its location along two of the most important trade routes of the era: the Nakasendo Highway which connected Kyoto with Tokyo (then Edo) and the shipping route that connected the Sea of Japan coast via Lake Biwa with Kyoto.

The Omi merchants accumulated vast fortunes during the Edo Period and were able to expand their operations to sell goods across the land. Today the town's mercantile history is reflected around the old town, where there are numerous buildings that in centuries past served as the merchants' homes and shops.

The majority of Omi Hachiman's attractions are located over three adjacent areas, which can roughly be defined as the following:

Canal area

Originally excavated to serve as both a moat to protect the castle and as a transport route to connect the town to Lake Biwa, the canal is Omi Hachiman's most unique and picturesque area.

Hachiman-bori Canal Boat Cruises

Hours: 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: 1000 yen
Typical duration: 30-40 minutes

Kawara Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a public holiday), days after public holidays, New Year holidays; no closing days in April, May, October and November
Admission: 300 yen
Typical visit duration: 30 minutes

Hakuunkan

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: New Year holidays
Admission: Free

Town area

Omi Hachiman's other highlight is the Shinmachi Street which is lined by several well preserved, historical buildings, some of which are open to the public.

Nishikawa Residence

Hours: 9:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Closed: Mondays and days after holidays, New Year holidays; no closing days in May, October, November
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen with municipal museum)
Typical visit duration: 20-30 minutes

Municipal Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Closed: Mondays and days after holidays, New Year holidays
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen with Nishikawa Residence)
Typical visit duration: 20-30 minutes

NO-MA

Hours: 11:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mon (Tue if Mon is a holiday), New Year holidays, between exhibitions
Admission: varies depending on exhibition, typically 300 yen

Vories-related sites

Former post office: 10:00 to 16:30, closed Tuesdays, admission free
Former residence: Advance reservations required, closed Mondays, 400 yen

Mount Hachiman

Easily accessed via a ropeway, the summit of Mount Hachiman provides visitors with pleasant views of the town and Lake Biwa. Previously the site of Hachiman Castle, the summit now offers a small network of walking trails with viewpoints, a temple and some castle ruins.

Hachimanyama Ropeway

Departures every 15 minutes from 9:00 to 17:00 (last departures at 16:30)
Fare: 500 yen (one way), 890 yen (round trip)

Walking Trails

Zuiryuji Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 300 yen

Himure Hachimangu Shrine

Hours: Always open
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free

Getting there and around

How to get to Omi Hachiman

Omi Hachiman Station is located along the JR Tokaido Main Line (also referred to as JR Biwako Line) between Kyoto and Maibara.

From Kyoto/Osaka

JR special rapid trains run twice hourly between Osaka, Kyoto and Omi Hachiman Station. The one way journey from Osaka takes 65 minutes and costs 1520 yen, while from Kyoto it takes 35 minutes and costs 680 yen.

From Tokyo

From Tokyo (Tokyo or Shinagawa stations), take a Hikari train on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara Station (130 minutes, one direct Hikari per hour) and then transfer to the JR Biwako Line to Omi Hachiman Station (20-25 minutes, frequent departures). The entire one way journey takes about three hours, costs around 12,500 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

How to get around Omi Hachiman

Most of Omi Hachiman's attractions are located in the old town area which is about two kilometers from the station. From Omi Hachiman Station, there are 2-5 buses per hour that run to the old town (5-10 minutes, 220 yen one way) where they stop at multiple bus stops, including Shinmachi (V) and Osugicho (吙). Alternatively, a taxi ride between the station and the old town takes under ten minutes and costs around 1000 yen one way. The old town can be explored comfortably on foot.