Discovering Kansai among thousand-year-old temples and samurai castles

A huge lake, 1800 years of history and a country capable of telling the truest Japan. PUSH the Kansai region dotted with Zen temples and ancient castles that lead to ninja remains, it is a unique journey in the heart of the rising sun that allows you to enjoy the most authentic traditions through a deep, direct and spiritual contact with typical nature Shiga Prefecture.

Hikone Castle, a national treasure of Japan

With a view of Lake Biwawhich offers a wonderful but very strange view Hikone Castle it recalls the atmosphere of eras in which indomitable warriors crossed swords. The structure we admire today is the one the clan built four centuries ago and is immersed in a cherry orchardthe great protagonists of the Sakura Matsuri, the site of a fortress that extends into a larger garden – Genkyu-en – and which was originally intended for the leisure of the feudal lord and his guests.

The main building, marked as A national treasureit hides four private rooms and is surrounded by a network of walls and towers to protect it, including the Tenbin-yagura, weighing tower, which owes its name to its perfectly symmetrical structure. It is also the only tower of its type in all of Japan, equipped with a strategic corridor which connected the two ends and which could be demolished if necessary.

Hikone Castle’s time is instead marked doorbell which for centuries sounded exactly five times a day. His carillons can be heard while walking through the castle and its surroundings All over the city: an evocative element that was included in the list of 100 soundscapes of Japan.

A trading city rich in history

Omihachiman standing on the shores of Lake Biwa, on the old Nakasendo road that connects Tokyo with Kyoto, it still retains a thriving soul commercial city that it was a long time ago. The Hachiman-bori channel did indeed provide a valid channel communication route, supporting the development of the city of Omi as a trading power. However, Hachiman’s name was added later in the honor Shinto god of war who lives here at Himure Hachimangu Temple.

The beating heart of the center, which beats fueled by the wealth and generosity of the early merchants of Omi, resides in the many temples and public works present throughout the area of ​​the ancient trading city. Shin Machi Dori it is in fact a perfectly preserved example of how Omi traders lived, while the city museum, which today hosts numerous exhibitions on folk materials, is a testament to the building style of the first traders.

The tradition is also preserved thanks to Sagi’s Fire Festival Known as one of the most dangerous demonstrations in Japan, Omihachiman takes place every year in mid-March. The festivities include a competition to see which is the best of a large selection of mammoth sagi floats made from straw, bamboo and paper. Buildings are carried through the city by men dressed and made up like women. At the top of the festival, wagons are burned while people dance around the fire.

Before the invention and arrival AutomobilesThe city’s canal was one of the main communication routes that revitalized the area for large commercial traffic. However, the main trade route divided the city into two parts, with samurai living in the north and civilians in the south. Today it is possible to walk along the canal to fully understand the atmosphere of the time and understand the importance of water in an area with a strong commercial mission.

Discovering Lake Biwa, the largest in Japan

Located in the center of Shiga Prefecture, the lake owes its name the natural shape that characterizes it, which resembles the biwa, a traditional Japanese lute. The very long coastline with 235 kilometers to explore is full of things to do. In fact, boat trips, walking tours or island tours are all possible. On the west side you can admire Omimaiko Beach with white sand and lush pine trees, while for camping lovers a stop is a must Okubiwako overlooking the water and ideal for relaxing while appreciating the natural beauty of the place.

Swimming definitely does sport the most popular, but canoes and kayaks are also available, try paddleboarding, learn to sail or windsurf. Children’s slopes are available in winter. The vast body of water that covers part of Japan can also be explored navigationwith food and entertainment, available on short and medium routes.

Lake Biwa is beautiful even in winter. In fact, the building is built here the fastest cable car in Japan which leads up Mount Horai to Biwako Valley, which has a famous ski season. You can ski or snowboard here with a view of the lake. In summer, the climate is cooler than in the city and you can enjoy the view of the zip-line or the dizzying Skywalker.

Long life and spirituality at Shirahige Shrine

A small Shinto shrine Shirahige it stands on the western side of Lake Biwa and is known for its picturesqueness thorium which stands right in the middle of the lake. The origin of this construction are very ancient and date back to AD 675, but underwent several changes over time. In fact, the torii in 1280 seems to have remained submerged after the lake level rose. What we see today dates back to a modern transformation from 1981.

His name, Shirahige, means literally White beard. This is because it is dedicated to Sarutahiko, one a deity of ancient Japanese mythology who was represented as an elderly man with white hair and a beard. He is also known for his special powers: in fact, he is able to instill long life and health.

Chikubushima, the island of the gods

Also known as island of the gods in the city of Nagahama is located on the northern shore of Lake Biwa. Among local attractions, we remember the island temple, Hogonji, where you can buy delicious Daruma dolls dedicated to Benzaiten which would bring good luck for the year. Instead, the gods may be left at Tsukubusuma Shrine clay disks, the kawarakes, capable of fulfilling the most hidden desires. The two buildings reflect the confluence of Japan’s two religions over more than a millennium.

Discovering Osaka

From Tokyo to Osaka by Shinkansen to experience a completely different atmosphere from the capital and which allows you to immerse yourself in the exciting nightlife, excellent food – especially those from the Tenma and Ura Namba districts – and a warm welcome from the locals. City Expo 2025 It also offers an interesting historical page with the castle as the main attraction: an ideal place to immerse yourself in history.



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