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After spending a day or two in Omi-Hachiman, you can come to Hino town, the birthplace of Omi-Hino-merchants and the town I live in.
Hino is the place I really recommend that you come because it has both traditional culture and the countryside. It has the traditional townscape including Omi-merchants’ houses; and Satoyama, rice fields, mountains, rivers; and people who lead sustainable ways of living.
Hino is about 50 minutes from Omi-Hachiman by bus, so it is in a convenient location to get to coming from Kyoto and Omi-Hachiman. You spend a day seeing the historical city of Kyoto, then spend another day or two exploring Japanese culture in a more relaxed manner with fewer tourists, and finally go to the real countryside.
A great thing about Hino is that it isn’t touristic at all. You probably won’t see any other tourists. Only people you see are locals, and therefore you get to see how Japanese people live rather than visiting sightseeing spots.
You can catch a bus from the south exit of Omi-Hachiman station. You want to get on a bus going to Kitabataguchi.
You first want to get off at Echigawa-cho, which is in the middle of the Omi-Hino-Merchant-Street. You can walk south, and soon you’ll see a café called Rakkoya at the corner of the next street.
It is a renovated Kominka, and you can feel the atmosphere of a tatami room there.
They serve organic coffee there.
After having tea there, you can walk back to the Omi-Hino-Merchant-Street and turn right and walk for a few minutes. You’ll see a big Kominka on your left. That is Hino Tourism Association.
You can get a map and more information about where to go. You can also rent a bicycle there.
You can continue walking on the Omi-Hino-Merchant-Street and enjoy the traditional streetscape.
You will soon come to Murai Honmachi bus stop. Just before the bus stop, you turn right, and you will see a temple at the end of the road. That is Shingyoin Temple.
It has a beautiful Japanese garden, and the ceiling in the main temple features an ornate painting of a flying dragon. It is a magnificent drawing and Shingyoin is famous for it.
After visiting Shingyoin, you can go back to the Omi-Hino-Merchant-Street. You turn right, and keep walking until you come to Mukaimachi. Just before Mukaimachi bus stop, you want to turn left to walk toward Watamuki Shrine. On the way to the shrine, you will see a mansion.
That is Omi-Hino Shonin Furusato Museum. It used to be a house of an Omi-Hino-merchant.
It has marvelous Zashiki rooms and splendid Japanese garden. You can feel how wealthy Omi-merchants were.
From Omi-Hino Shonin Furusato Museum, it is only a minute walk to Watamuki Shrine.
Watamuki Shrine is the biggest shrine in Hino, and it is the place of worship for Omi-Hino-merchants.
It has tall cedar trees and a massive garden. It is one of the few shrines with this size to be so quiet I have visited, and therefore worth visiting if you want to feel the sacred atmosphere of a Shinto shrine. You can’t feel it at a famous shrine since it is always crowded or at a smaller local shrine.
Well, enough of sightseeing, now let me move onto a Satoyama holiday which is the main attraction of Hino. I’ll see you tomorrow.