The castle town Omi Hachiman was built in 1585 by Toyotomi Hidetsugu, a nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, along the ancient high road Nakasendo connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, by all the way west finding the Lake Biwa. Under the time of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the shadow of the castle, the town flourished as a commercial town with the popular of canal transportation for delivering goods and passengers around Kyoto. At that time, the Hachimanbori canal, one among canal life-lines of Omo Hachiman with significant contribution to the general growth and prosperity of the town, teared the town into two seperate parts for samurai and usual citizens. Thanks for the well preserved scene and atmosphere, the canal has now become an tourist attraction of Shiga prefecture, chosen to be background of many historical films and shows.
Like the location Omi Hachiman town, Hachimanbori canal was also constructed by Toyotomi Hidetsugu as a means of regional economics and transportation for all the cargo boats sailing to and fro across Lake Biwa stop at the Hachiman port. The canal fulfilled well its mission till the Showa time came in early 20th century, when canal transportation lost its role in hands of more modern means of transportation of traffic. There were even the idea of filling the moat. Fortunately, locals kept preserving the beauty of Hachimanbori together with the presence of storehouses and old merchant houses along to be a famous spot for sightseeing instead of a harbor.
Hachimanbori is about 6 kilometers in length with the main part measuring about 1 kilometer. Within this 1 kilometer length, you can find several bridges crossing the canal. They are all ancient and magnificent structure of wood featuring traditional color of the town and some bridge is even supported by two boats underneath. Near the Kawara Roof Tile Museum, you can find a dock to board the canal boat, which used to be used to carry the merchant goods and passengers. This boat channel was also created by Hidetsugu to invigorate the flow of people and goods.
Hachimanbori is proud to keep many historical remains together with the nostalgic atmosphere of the ancient town beside, consisting of the Tile Museum, the former Nishikawa family House, the former Ban family House and Shinmachidori Street. All you can see is the row of white walled storehouses and traditional old houses running to the torii gate of Himure-hachimangu Shrine and Hakuunbashi Bridge. In spring, cherry trees starts near the Omi-Hachiman Public Library , running to bloom at Hakuunbashi Bridge and the boat tour carrying you will immerse in cherry breeze, floating over cherry waves, overwhelmed by cherry fragrance. Along the canal, beautiful iris and green willow also contribute excitedly to the beauty of Hachimanbori canal over seasons.
In about September, they will hold one of the most gorgeous night of light around the town and along Hachimanbori lit up by 2000 lanterns with some wooden lanterns hanging from bamboo posts. Concerts, art galleries, markets, and cafes will also take place in traditional houses around the neighborhood.
From Omi-Hachiman Station on Biwako Line, take the Omi Railway Bus bound for Chomei-ji Temple and get off at the Osugi-cho stop then take a 7 minute walk.