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Omihachiman & Nishiki Market

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Historical district at Omihachiman

We are not really city people so we spent some time searching on the internet to locate an interesting place for a day trip from Kyoto and came up with Omihachiman, a small town 30 minutes away by train from Kyoto station. The town was not mentioned in our LP guidebook and during pur time there we only saw one other foreigner, but there were quite a few Japanese visitors, althopugh it was not crowded. Omihachiman has a historic area with old houses and canalsabout one kilometer from Omihachiman Station and is on the banks of Lake Biwa an is sometimes referred to as a Minature Venice. The Tourist Information center was just outside the station so the friendly attendant gave us a map in English and informed us of a walking route to see the attractions.

Canal at Omihachiman
It was a Sunday and the road that led from the vstation to the canal area was almost deseted and most shops were closed.

Omihachiman has been in existance since the late 16th century and was developed as a commercial center by Toyotomi Hidetsugu who construced a castle, but is now in ruins. Merchants built there houses there and there boats used the canals to transport their merchandise and nowadays it is a Preserved District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.

After a slow walk we reached the historic area where many of the old houses had been converted into museums or souvenir shops selling specialty items. There were several blocks of old wooden houses where a few Japanese visitors lingered like us, taking photos and posing in front of the buildings.

View of Biwa Lake
We sat by one of the canals and relaxed, watching small boats go up and down with tourists who had paid about 1000 yen for the 30 minute ride. The canals were connected to a lake where a small river led to the shores of Lake Biwa. 

We decided to take the cable car up and down the hill next to the historical center as it was hot and we did not want to tire ourselves out by climbing the hill. Once we reached the cable car station at the top there was a walking trail that led round the top of the hill where there were a couple of viewpoints at which you could see Lake Bima. Afterwards we headed back to the train station, returned to Kyoto and took the subway to Nishiki Market area.

Nishiki market is aon a single pedestrian walkway that stretches 5 blocks where restaurants, souvenir shops, fresh seafood stalls and speciality shops that sold Japanese sweets, sushi, pickled items and seasonal foods lined each side of the lane as you passed by.

Nishiki Market
We sampled many of the pickled items, sweets and dried fish, even though we were not sure of what we were eating. We did find that souvenirs were very expensive in Japan, compared to other countries but we did end up buying fridge magnets for our collection. Nearly everything at the market was produced locally and was sold in small stores or shops with two floors but it was very enjoyable to taste the culinary delights of the city. We did end up eating two different types of snacks which tasted delicious but we had no idea what they were called. My wife certainly enjoyed her pancake with vegetables and a tasty sauce. 

The market dates back from 1310 when it was a fish wholesale district and pretty soon other shops opened up and it soon became a retail market. Today it is still a retail market with many locals purchasing goods, and just as many tourists wandering through the lane clicking their camera at every starnge or unusual product.

davejo says:
Yes, it was an inter3sting market and lots of free samples
Posted on: Oct 08, 2017
planxty says:
I do love markets, specifically Asian markets and this one looks fascinating. I suspect I could have spent some time there.
Posted on: Oct 08, 2017
davejo says:
Yes, we were lucky to find Omihachiman and enjoyed sampling the food at the market, although sometimes we were not sure of what exactly we were eating.
Posted on: Oct 06, 2017
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Historical district at Omihachiman
Historical district at Omihachiman
Canal at Omihachiman
Canal at Omihachiman
View of Biwa Lake
View of Biwa Lake
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market----look at the pric…
Nishiki Market----look at the pri…
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market
Kyoto
photo by: ys484