Hikone City, home to national treasures and the legacy of the Ii Clan attracts visitors from near and far interested in its castle, the traditional gardens, and the memory of the nobles who built it all. The city’s location on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa and close to the mountains, is another major draw in for tourists. The environment is ideal for outdoor leisure
activities and those who wish to explore passed the city’s historical elements. Thanks to the
vast waters that border the city, getting a taste of its fresh and innovative cuisine is a pleasure. Spending a couple of days touring the city is reasonable and sufficient time to give visitors a sense of what the city is all about.
Visit Hikone’s own national treasure.
Hikone’s own national treasure.
This is Hikone’s crown jewel. You should give yourself at least a couple of hours here.
Cross over the moats and into Hikone Castle Town. Explore this area without rush while checking out landmarks like the Umaya (stable) of Hikone Castle, the corridor-style gates, and the Castle Tower. You can climb up the narrow wooden steps and onto the top of the tower and take in the 360 views of the city and the lake. The castle also hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, the most crowded being the cherry blossom festival (hanami) that occurs in mid-April.
Take in the views of the castle and the sounds of nature at Genkyu-en.
Genkyu-en is the main garden where feudal lords used to gather for tea ceremonies and to rejoice with the surrounding nature. For 600 yen and from 8:30pm to 5:00pm you will be able to do the same. The garden is made up of inlets connected by 9 bridges. You can cross from inlet to inlet while admiring the Hikone Castle from a distance and for an extra fee enjoy the tea ceremony on a tatami mat overlooking the pond.
Shop for Omiyage and try Local Cuisine along Castle Road.
Castle Road is a new street with an old look. Built purposely to give visitors the feeling of passing through an old castle town, it is flanked by black and white traditionally-looking houses leading up to Kyobashi Bridge and onto Hikone Castle. Here you will find omiyage
shops, cafes, and a selection of the city’s best restaurants offering Ohmi Beef, and other
regional dishes. Keep in mind that most of the shops close at 5pm and only a few restaurants remain open until 10pm.
Pay a Visit to the Ryotanji’s Darumas and Lush Gardens.
Ryotanji Temple is located just outside central Hikone at the foot of Sawayama Mountain. Crossing its main gate you will feel like walking into a mystic world; the temple grounds are a maze of lush gardens and aging tombstones that spill onto the mountain. For a small entrance fee, darumas of various sizes await inside the temple halls and will guide you to a large tatami room overlooking a Japanese garden.
Enjoy the Fascinating Waters of Lake Biwa.
Fascinating Waters of Lake Biwa.
Hikone’s history is enough to keep you busy but it would be a shame to leave the area without journeying to the waters of Japan’s largest lake. The lakeshore is accessible all-year round for walking, biking, and fishing. During the summer months, visitors can go swimming at Matsubara Beach. Watching the sun set over the mountain range across the lake is a perfect way to end a day of sightseeing.
What to Do in Hikone
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR