Held during the weekend in mid-March, the Sagicho Matsuri is a dramatic parade and clashing of 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats carried around the streets and in Himure Hachimangu Shrine near Hachiman-bori Canal. On the first day (Sat.), the floats are paraded along the streets near the shrine and undergo judging for best design. The floats are works of art and made of edible materials mounted on a straw and wood base all to be set afire in the end. These photos were taken on March 17-18, 2007, year of the boar. Also see my video at YouTube.
The second day (Sun.) of the Sagicho Festival is the climax. During the day, the Sagicho floats collide with each other and try to topple each other. At night, the floats are set afire. Sagicho is actually a fire festival. Also see my video at YouTube.
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Held annually on April 14-15, the Hachiman Matsuri is Shiga's biggest fire festival. Giant torches made of straw as tall as 10 meters are set on fire starting from 8 pm on the 14th. The festival is prayer for an abundant harvest. Very dramatic and impressive.
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As part of the old Hachiman Castle atop Mt. Hachiman-yama, Hachiman-bori moat enabled boats to ply to Hachiman Castle from Lake Biwa. In April, many cherry blossom trees lining the moat make it a beautiful place to stroll.
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At 271 meters high, this mountaintop was the site of Hachiman Castle built by Toyotomi Hidetsugu in 1585. Now home to Zuiryuji temple of the Nichiren Sect, some of the castle's stone walls still remain. Great views of Lake Biwa and Omi-Hachiman, as well as fall colors. Easily accessible via ropeway near Hachiman-bori canal.
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Built in 1579 by Oda Nobunaga, Azuchi Castle was unique for its octagonal castle tower. It was attacked and destroyed only 3 years later. The castle is on a hill in Azuchi, Omi-Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture. A replica of the top portion of the castle tower is displayed at a museum nearby the castle ruins. More about Azuchi here.
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Held in early June, festival held for Oda Nobunaga who built Azuchi Castle. Various events and activities highlighted by the Musha Gyoretsu warrior procession and a demonstration of firing matchlock guns. The boat ride along the moat was also enjoyable. Photos taken on June 4, 2006. Also see the video at YouTube.
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William Merrell Vories (1880-1964) moved to Omi-Hachiman in 1905 to work as an English teacher while engaging in Christian missionary activities. He always had an interest in architecture and never had formal training as an architect, but he studied on his own and opened his own architectural firm in Omi-Hachiman in 1908. He and his firm went on to design numerous buildings in Shiga and other places in Japan. Omi-Hachiman still has a number of Vories buildings intact, including his former residence.
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The 31st temple on the Saigoku (Western Japan) Pilgrimage circuit, Chomeiji (Long Life Temple) worships the Kannon goddess dedicated to long life and good health. It belongs to the Tendai Buddhist sect. Local buses run from Omi-Hachiman Station to Chomeiji.
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Held annually on May 4 at Shinoda Shrine, the Shinoda Hanabi display is a surprisingly spectacular fireworks display. Torch fireworks, Niagara Falls, and panel-type fireworks provide an explosive experience. Good for people who cannot wait till summer to see fireworks in Japan. Walk from Omi-Hachiman Station. Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
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Musa-juku was the sixty-sixth of the sixty-nine stations or shukuba post towns on the Nakasendo Road. It is the seventh Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Echigawa-juku in Aisho), and one of ten Nakasendo stations in Shiga. There is very little left. Near Ohmi Railways Musa Station, a short ride from Omi-Hachiman.
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