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Omihachiman and the man named William Merrell Vories – Part 2

Date Published: Last Update:2014/11/19 Traditional Culture, Travel & View point , , ,

Where is Omihachiman?

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Himure Hachimangu Torii

Omihachiman is located on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa – the largest lake in Japan. According to wikipedia Omihachiman means “Hachiman in Omi”. Since the Edo Period Omihachiman has been known to be a merchants town and is now widely known to be the birthplace of ‘Omi-shonin’ – the merchants from Omi district. It is believed that a number of long-established businesses here in Japan have originally started here. The Omi-shonins ran their businesses in the spirit of sanpo-yoshi, which meant “good for the buyer, good fro the seller, and good for the society”.

Today, the well-preserved former residence of the wealthy merchant families – like the Nishikawas along the street Shin Machi Dori attracts a great number of visitors. Walking Shin Machi Dori brings you back in time, buildings with lattice windows, visible pine trees from private residence gardens and udatsu roof – sign of wealth and position. Some of the houses have been converted to museums and souvenir shops which are open to the public.

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Shinmachi Dori – see the red post box – its the traditional post used here in Japan and many of them are found here and are still in service.

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Traditional Post mail box.

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Former Ban Family Omi merchant home

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Inside Ban Residence

The narrow 4,750 meters man made canal located close to Shin Machi Dori called Hachiman Bori – running through the center of Omihachiman it was once used to transport merchant goods in and out of these area to Lake Biwa. Thus contributed to the development of the merchant town. Along the banks of the canal one would see white-walled storehouses and old merchant houses. Some beautiful bridges can also be found along the canal. Now, you can enjoy pleasant strolls along its banks or maybe enjoy a river cruise on board traditional river boats waiting to take visitors to sight seeing trips. The cruise would cost 1000 yen per person and would take about 35 minutes.

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Meijibashi Bridge along the Hachiman Bori Moat

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Hachiman Bori – Yakata bune boats offer moat rides.

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Hachiman Bori – the white structure on the left side serves as resting area and viewing deck for tourist

Hachiman Bori together with Shin Machi Dori is the main tourist attractions and  because of its well preserved look many period films have chosen this place as their filming location.

These houses together with Hachiman Bori are designated as Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings and Important Cultural Landscapes.

Getting around…

So how do you get from the Omihachiman train station to Shin Machi Dori and Hachiman Bori? You could take 5 minute bus from the station and get off at Shin Machi Dori or you can walk from the station – this would be about 30 minutes or more depending on your speed. Rental bicycles are also available near the train station.  Also, the station has a tourist information office which I suggest you visit first so that you could get more information about places – get guide maps, restaurants and travel tips around Omihachiman. Note all shops around Hachiman Bori are closed at around 5pm to 6pm. And most places of interest are in close proximity of each other so it is very convenient.

References:

1. Omihachiman, Shiga

2. Wikipedia

3. Omihachiman Tourism Association

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