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Hikone City: Hikone-jo (Castle) & Genkyu-en (Garden)

Written on: Friday April 2nd, 2010

A journal entry from: Shiga Prefecture

(Pictures and Information are still being added.) 

Hikone-jo and the surrounding buildings are key sightseeing spots of the city. They are all within a few minutes walk of each other and are linked by a few easy to follow paths.

A street map/guide is available at the information center (Hikone station beside the lockers) which highlights each spot and includes really good historical information. I was actually quite impressed by how professionally and well organized it was. Further tourist information is available at www.hikoneshi.com (in Japanese) or http://www.city.hikone.shiga.jp/english/index.html (in English). 

The castle its self was built between 1603 and 1622 by the territorial lord Li Naokatsu. It is a unique building, which includes sections from Otsu, Sawayama and Nagahama castles. And it was declared a national treasure in 1952. The towers are open to public and include small exhibits on various castle items along with a welcoming atmosphere. 

 While wandering around the grounds of the castle there was entertainment, a few food buildings and plenty of excitement as many families were there for the spring break. However, it was not as crowded as castles in the larger cities of Japan. 

After wandering downhill through a small forest, I found myself at a street along the moat where a few historical houses (privately owned) and the entrance to Genkyu-en were located. Tickets for the castle also include access to this area of the grounds as well. 

Genkyu-en is a beautiful traditional Japanese garden with bridges that jump around a medium sized pound and between a couple of small islands. It was built in 1677 by the lord Naooki Li and has a small tea house that overlooks the water. Quite stunning. Sadly the weather was overcast but I could easily imagine what it would be like on a warm sunny day. An interesting note as I was wandering through a small photo shoot was happening on one of the bridges with a couple in traditional outfits (Girl in full kimono and guy in kimono/hakama). Not quite sure if it was professional or personal photos though but an interesting view never the less.