On Friday, Satoshi had the day off and it was nice and sunny, so we packed up some things from the refridge and headed to our favorite park, Aramaki Rose Garden. I've written about this park several times, here, here and here. We love this place because it is free plus you can sit down have your breakfast and just take in all the beautiful roses. There aren't as many roses in Autumn as there are in Spring, so there aren't many tours roaming around the park, which makes it nicer.
On Saturday, we went to Shiga prefecture, which is about an hour away by train from Osaka. Before Shiga prefecture was called Shiga, it was called Omi. So the area we went to can either be called Omi-Hachiman or just Hachiman. Unfortunately, there was a suicide on the rails which delayed our train about 1 hour! When we finally got to Omi-Hachiman, it was almost lunchtime. We went into the tour information center and bought a pass (1000 yen about US $9) which gave us free admission to some of the museums, the ropeway and also discounted bus rides.
Lunch was beef curry made with Omi-gyu (Omi beef) a "brand-name" beef in the area. The curry was disappointing in that there were only bits of beef and nothing else, but they were soft bits. The highlight of our trip was a trip on the canal called Suigo. You get into a boat, take off your shoes and sit on a tatami floor, while the gondolier takes you around the little canalways. There are many yoshi(reed), as you travel through the canal and the wind blows, the reed makes a soft brushing sound. Very calming and relaxing. I think this is a nice thing to do for cherry blossom viewing also, as there are photos of them taking you right under the fully blossomed trees.
The ropeway took us up Mt Hachiman, where you can see the city of Omi-Hachiman, Lake Biwa and the many canals within Omi-Hachiman. Our snack was this mitarashidango (rice cakes grilled then coated with a soy sauce). There were several trees on Mt Hachiman that had started changing colors.
The canals were used to move heavy roof tiles as well as to protect the castle that once existed. As times changed, many of the canals were overgrown with weeds and unkempt. I was surprised to read that most of the canals were almost turned into landfills. The people of the city changed their way of thinking and instead preserved their history. Today the area is used for filming many historical dramas.
Since Winter is approaching, there were many homes and museums having their pine trees trimmed. If you look at the 2nd photo of this mosaic, you might be able to pick out the guy at the top of the pine tree. I think it is so fascinating because these guys climb into the tree to take care of it.
Autumn also brings another favorite flower called kinmokusei (sweet olive). You can smell the sweet fragrance as the winds blow. Most homes in Japan have tiled roofs, the bulk of the tiles are made in Omi-Hachiman. The city also has a museum to showcase all the different tiles. On this mosaic, the top, 5th photo is a tile called agehanocho (opened wing butterfly), it is my grandmother's mon (family crest).
There are many Western styled building that still exist around the city, William Vories is credited for designing them as well as over 1600 buildings throughout Japan.
Another thing you can experience are the historical buildings of the merchant's village. This is where most of the business took place in Hachiman. Walking around this area, you feel like you've stepped back into time.
Dinner was Tiffany's Omi-gyu filet. Served with grainy mustard, coarse salt, matcha (green tea) salt and shiitake (a type of mushroom) salt and wasabi (Japanese horseradish). The steak is cooked to your liking. It was so tender that it actually melted in my mouth. It was a great way to end a great day....or so we thought, we also bought 2 slices of a nice fluffy cheesecake from Andeken. This cheesecake is made from Gouda cheese and topped with a thin slice of pineapple, it was like eating air!
Both Tiffany and Andeken are about 3 minutes walking distance from the JR Omi-Hachiman station.
Closed on Tuesdays, Open for lunch 11:00-15:00, dinner 17:30-20:30
Closed on Tuesdays, Open 9:00-19:30
Have a great week!