Harking back to a time before roads and railways took over the world, the city of Omihachiman is criss-crossed by a network of canals which once made it an important trade hub, delivering goods to the capital Kyoto. The largest of these canals was Hachimanbori, which runs directly from Lake Shiga into the heart of the city.
So important was Omichachiman and its transport system to the region that the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga chose to build his fortress here, however it has long since disappeared. The rest of the town is fortunately preserved extremely well.
Taking a leisurely boat cruise down the canal reveals the very best of this city’s old-time charm, taking you past the merchant’s quarter, Shinmachi Dori, for a view into the lives of the medieval merchants. After finishing up your cruise, head over to the town museum for an exhibition of traditional crafts. Or if you’re visiting in autumn, don’t miss the amazing crimson foliage at Eigenji Temple.
The town lies on the southeast shore of the lake, conveniently placed for a stop off on the way to Hikone for those who are heading to the castle from the south side. Hop off the Biwako Line at the Omihachiman Station, then have a stroll around the town on foot. To find all of the information about cruises, the tourist information center at the station has everything you need.