Omihachiman City in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, offers an idyllic landscape featuring riverside views and the unique townscape that was once the birthplace of Omi merchants. To explore this beautiful area, visitors can enjoy two boat rides – one through Nishinoko, an important cultural landscape, and the other through Hachiman-bori Canal, where Omi merchants once lived.
Nishinoko: A Glimpse into an Important Cultural Landscape
Long ago, Lake Biwa was surrounded by many small lagoons called “naiko,” forming waterways used for transportation. Although many have disappeared due to reclamation projects, the largest remaining naiko, Nishinoko in Omihachiman City, has formed one of Japan’s rare water districts.
Nishinoko is best known for its abundance of “Yoshi,” a reed that contributes to the lush green landscape. In 2006, it became part of the Important Cultural Landscape, along with reservoirs, waterways, paddy fields, irrigation ponds, and various rare species.
Suigo no Sato Maruyama: Exploring Navigating Yoshi Maze via Rowboat
Visitors can embark on their rowboat ride at “Suigo-no-Sato Maruyama,” which operates from 10:00 AM every day from April through November and can accommodate up to 8 people (reservations required). The inside of the boat is spacious, with a boatman operating it using a single rod.
During this boat ride through the Yoshi maze, passengers can experience breathtaking scenery while listening to their experienced guide, who shares interesting facts about the area and its wildlife. Highlights include sightings of unique species of fish and birds that inhabit the ecosystem and occasional glimpses of period drama filmings held in the region.
Exploring Hachiman-bori: Where Omi Merchants Lived
Hachiman-bori Canal, located in the center of Omihachiman City, was built during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period to link Lake Biwa with city areas. As water transportation developed, it increased commercial activity and the rise of Omi merchants.
Visitors can tour Hachiman-bori Canal’s five km-long routes, surrounded by white-walled storehouses and residences preserved from a bygone era. The canal is adorned with traditional Hachiman-gawara tiles native to Omihachiman.
Boarding occurs at “Waden,” near the Kawara Museum along Hachiman-bori. The boat tour holds a capacity of 11 people, and although booking a week in advance is recommended for peak travel seasons (spring to fall), same-day reservations are also available.
The tranquil journey through Hachiman-bori offers passengers picturesque sceneries influenced by different seasons, such as cherry blossoms in spring or colorful foliage in autumn. Guided audio inside the boat describes Omihachiman’s history and allows visitors to imagine life during this historical period.
The Hachiman-bori Festival takes place every September or October, illuminating the canals with around 3,000 lanterns alongside time-limited exhibitions and a stamp rally.
Experience History through Hachiman-bori Canal Boat Ride
Omihachiman City showcases Japan’s rich heritage through its waterways and landscapes. A boat ride through Nishinoko’s Important Cultural Landscape and Hachiman-bori Canal unveils an exciting historical journey for visitors interested in the country’s varied sceneries and longstanding traditions.