Winding its way through Omihachiman City in Shiga lies the Hachiman-Bori. Lined with steep cobbled walls and surrounded by the evidence of Old Edo, this manmade channel is one of the region’s best attractions. This historic merchant route connected the town to Lake Biwa and allowed Omihachiman to grow and thrive during the Edo Period. Today, it remains an important cultural heritage site and brings tourism to the region.
Long ago, Omihachiman was known for having the shrewdest merchant population in all of Japan. Their antique storehouses and shops still line the channel and add to Omihachiman’s historic charm. And the residents work hard to preserve the town’s heritage. As a result, the city attracts not only history and culture buffs interested in Old Edo, but location scouts for the movie industry, too. Rurouni Kenshin, a live-action adaption of the manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki, had some scenes filmed here. After a trip down the Hachiman-bori, it’s easy to see why.
Hachiman-bori’s river cruises are understandably the city’s most popular tourist attraction. Rain or shine, the traditionally-styled flat boats cart visitors through cobbled stone bridges, between antique storehouses and under weeping willows. The boat captains, in old-fashioned uniforms, add to the historic atmosphere. And it’s those small touches that really make Omihachiman and the Hachiman-bori worth visiting. The warm hearts of the people and the effort they make to preserve and protect their home and heritage is the best part of all.