Omihachiman City in Shiga Prefecture has long been considered an idyllic landscape, especially with its beautiful riverside views.

Yet it is also the place where the unique townscape that was the birthplace of Omi merchants remains. Today, I got a look at this lovely riverside view, along with the scenery of the Hachiman-bori Canal, where people once lived, while enjoying a ride on two different boats.

Nishinoko: A View of an Important Cultural Landscape

Long ago, surrounding Lake Biwa were many small lagoons called “naiko.” These stretched all around Lake Biwa, forming waterways through which people were able to freely come and go into Lake Biwa.

In a topographical map from 1908, there were more than 40 naiko listed, however many of these have since disappeared due to reclamation and now ordered paddy fields are spreading in their place.

In the midst of this, Nishinoko in Omihachiman City, which remained in the area affected by water reclamation, now boasts the largest scale among the currently existing naiko, and has formed what is deemed as one of Japan’s rare water districts.

One of the most unique characteristics of this water district is the mass growth of “yoshi,” a kind of reed in the grass family. Because this plant helped produce the lush green landscape of this undeveloped land, it has been dubbed the first part of the Important Cultural Landscape in 2006, along with the reservoirs and waterways, paddy fields, irrigation ponds and various rare species.

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▲Biwako Hakkei is a famous lakeside scenery on its own (Photo provided by Suigo-no-Sato Maruyama)

“Suigo Meguri” is a leisurely rowboat ride that takes you through the thickly intertwined yoshi. Let’s take a peaceful boat ride while chatting up the boat captain!

Suigo no Sato Maruyama: Navigating a Maze of Yoshi via Rowboat

We now boarded onto the “Suigo-no-Sato Maruyama.” The boat regularly operates from 10:00AM every day from April through November, and can accommodate up to 8 people. (Ship available for booking daily, year-round; reservations required).

▲It is about 15 minutes away by car from the JR Omihachiman Station

▲The inside of the boat is fairly spacious. The boatman operates the boat with a single rod.

▲The length of the rod is about 4 m. It was pretty heavy.

On this day, it was the 13 year veteran boatman, Mr. Ishibashi (age 73) who would guide us. He became a boatman before the age of 60, and said that there are many times when you may have to operate the boat four to five times in a single day.

▲Captain Ishibashi, head of the ship

Onward to the Yoshi Maze! We continue along the waterway, plodding through a wall of yoshi, thick like mesh. Though it was a hot summer day, the breeze while riding the boat was pleasant and refreshing. The rhythm of the rowing was so relaxing, I felt that at any moment… I just might doze off peacefully.

Yoshi is famous as a material used in bamboo screens and…

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