Omi Hachiman Castle

From Jcastle.info

Omi1.jpg

History
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, since he had no children of his own, adopted his sister's son Hidetsugu as his heir. At the age of 18, Hidetsugu became the lord of Omi and built his castle here on Mt. Hachiman.

Hidetsugu developed a prosperous castle town around Mt. Hachiman with craftsmen and towsnpeople taken in part from the castle town at Azuchi after its downfall. The Hachimanbori moat that went around the base of the mountain and through the castle town also connected directly to Lake Biwa and acted as a canal further helping the town to flourish. In 1590 Hidetsugu was transferred to Kiyosu castle with much larger lands in Owari and Ise.

In 1593 Hideyori was born as a natural son to Hideyoshi clouding Hidetsugu's position. In 1595 he was exiled to Mt. Koya and forced to take his own life. Shortly thereafter all his surviving family were brutally murdered by Hideyoshi.

After Hidetsugu left Omi Hachiman for Owari and Kiyosu Castle, Kyogoku Takatsugu became lord of Omi Hachiman Castle. The castle became defunct in 1595 when Kyogoku was moved to Otsu Castle. Although the lifespan of Omi Hachiman Castle was very short, the town that was founded by Hidetsugu flourished throughout the Edo Period.


Visit Notes

The castle town at the base of the mountain is a well known picturesque travel destination in the area. There is currently a temple on the castle grounds at the top but few people probably visit it for the castle ruins. It also offers nice views of the area and Lake Biwa.




Gallery
  • View from the North bailey
  • View from the Western Outer Bailey
  • bailey overlooking the town
  • stone wall ruins
  • map
  • Stone wall ruins
  • Castle town and Hachimanbori moat
  • Stone wall ruins
  • bailey overooking Lake Biwa
  • Castle town street


Castle Profile
English Name Omi Hachiman Castle
Japanese Name 近江八幡城
Alternate Names Hachimanyama-jo
Founder Hashiba Hidetsugu
Year Founded 1585
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features stone walls, castle town
Visitor Information
Access 10 minute bus ride from Omi Hachiman Station (Tokaido Line)
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.omi8.com/annai/hachimanbori info.htm
Location Omi Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 35° 8' 40.24" N, 136° 4' 55.74" E
Loading map...
Admin
Added to Jcastle 2004
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2004
Admin Visits February 21, 2004


2.67
(12 votes)
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RaymondWDaimyo

8 months ago
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Matthew, if you revisit Omi-Hachiman also be sure to also head up to the Demaru Bailey of Omi-Hachiman Castle for some panoramic views of the surrounding area. Since all the undergrowth and trees have been cleared from the Demaru Bailey for at least 2.5 years and the ishigaki revealed in its full glory, you can clearly see the surrounding mountains where half a dozen of Rokkaku Clan’s yamajiros are located. I was up at Omi-Hachiman Castle’s Demaru in April and May 2021 checking out the cleared bailey then, so it hasn’t been recently denuded of trees and undergrowth as claimed by one castle fan on another forum.
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ARTShogun

8 months ago
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You must be talking about Chris's recent post on our little FB group. Of course, I say it was a 'recent' post, but maybe, being already over a week ago, it's old hat. 'Recent' being a relative term an' all. I think 'recent' could refer to any time in the last few years, especially given the time scale of castles is centuries. But who cares?
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RaymondWDaimyo

8 months ago
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Hmmm…who cares? (Lol) Mate, you obviously care enough to try defending the indefensible and even decided to name the castle fan who posted that inaccurate comment on your forum.

Based on your understanding of “recent / recently” so when someone says, “I visited Omi-Hachiman Castle recently.” you would then interpret that to mean that person visited Omi-Hachiman Castle sometime in the last few years or even longer because Omi-Hachiman Castle has been around for hundreds of years. I reckon most people would think it means that person visited Omi-Hachiman Castle sometime in the last few weeks / months and certainly sometime in the second half of this year when they use the word “recent / recently.”

Similarly, when the comment on your forum mentioned the recently denuded Demaru at Omi-Hachiman Castle, I’m sure almost everyone thinks it was cleared sometime this year, possibly even a few weeks / months ago and not years ago. Of course, we can always add “years” after “recent” as in “recent years” to denote a longer and more distant period of time in relation to the present time. However, this was not the case in the comment on your forum.

I was merely pointing the inaccurate timeframe of that statement on your forum in my earlier comment here.

FYI, I’ll leave you with this.

The Cambridge dictionary defines “recent” as “happening or starting from a short time ago.”
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ARTShogun

8 months ago
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I just didn't think it was a big deal, chum. But I'll eat my old hat if that wasn't the main motivation for your recent comment ~_0
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RaymondWDaimyo

8 months ago
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Pure paranoia, mate. Conversely, why are you rushing to defend an incorrect comment that you did not originally post?
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ARTShogun

8 months ago
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You may characterise Chris's comment as 'incorrect' if you like, but i'd say it was trivially inconsequential.

Since you ask, buddy, i will note that this isn't the first time that you have responded to that poster's comments in our group by writing a comment on this website. At that time - let's call it recently - it was on the profile for Wakayama Castle, should you like to re-read it, and i rank-ordered what i thought the purposes of your comment were.

Here's what i got:

1. To scoff about knowing something another castle fan didn't. 2. To vent your frustration that the comment section of a jcastle.info profile is not the sole place to converse in English about Japanese castles. 3. To be informative and helpful.

You'll be happy to know that, though intended as a joke, i refrained from sharing it even privately because i wanted to graciously give you the benefit of the doubt.

But, putting aside the unassailable pentration of my insight, oughtn't we put to bed the matter? It would be a shame to further fracture the jcastle.info commenting community of about three people by any further petty bickering about such minutiae. Rather, let us go on amicably in the shared mission of spreading information about Japanese castles in a way that is accessible and encouraging for all those continuing or starting their castling journeys.
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RaymondWDaimyo

7 months ago
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ART, I stand in awe of your powers of intuitive deduction from a mere two comments from the hundreds of comments that I have posted on JCastle. You’re a real Sherlock in the making.

What you have said about me can also applies to yourself. It’s very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Putting my ART-Sherlock hat on…

You said that I scoff at other castle fans not knowing what I know about some castles. Well, the same applies for you too, mate. You have posted multiple times bragging about your prowess in writing the most castle profiles for some prefectures on JCastle. However, many of those profiles are of former castle / yakata sites with absolutely no extant ruins.

What I still don’t understand is why you are so keen to defend CG on any comments that you ardently perceive as to cast him in a possible unfavourable light. Are you his (self-appointed) personal publicity officer?

Remember one thing, ART and this applies to everyone including me. There are always other castle fans who know more about a castle or castles than oneself, who have been to more castles / a particular castle more times than oneself, or who have more up-to-date information about a castle or castles.

In the expat castle community, you are likely the most knowledgeable and experienced castle explorer for castles in Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures. For some of the castles in Nagano and Yamanashi, it is possible castle OGs like Eric and CG will know more about them.

You have done a lot of good in promoting Japanese castles among foreign castle fans, and that is something to be applauded. However, each castle fan should be able to post a comment either on JCastle or on your forum about erroneous information without you making light of it.

Yes, I will maintain the peace on the JCastle community by making this my final comment on this matter about the Demaru at Omi-Hachiman Castle. Feel free to post a response to this comment, but I won’t be responding to it. Any further comments from you will show that you are insincere about bringing an end to this exchange between you and me on JCastle.

In the meantime, it’s prime “castle-hunting” season, so I will be a bit too busy visiting castles in my free time to be posting comments on JCastle in the next few weeks. Happy castling to you, too.
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ARTShogun

7 months ago
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If i feel the need to respond to your comments i am, of course, at liberty to do so. But i'll leave off with the tit-for-tat and just provide some clarification here on my own contributions to this grassroots encyclopedia of ours, as you have brought them up, so i'll suppose it's of interest.

It is indeed the case that most medieval fortified residence sites no longer have any observable ruins. Many have been put to plough or otherwise developed over. About a third of the sites i have contributed here i have labelled as 'yakata'. A significant number do have remains / features. At most a quarter of my contributed profiles have no remains.

But i don't see what's wrong with providing information on such sites. Remains or no, the history of such sites can be fascinating. I have excluded sites which do not have clear histories. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, and i know some castle-explorers don't care much for the actual history behind the ruins. But i believe there's value there.

Some sites i go to without knowing whether i'll be able to find ruins or not. Some places reportedly have ruins but i've gone only to be disappointed, or to find that the remains have been destroyed. Sometimes we just have to see for ourselves. And if i go and see, and find nout, others may comfortably skip such sites in that knowledge.

From the jcastle.info about section: "The goal of this site is to be the most comprehensive source of information about Japanese Castles in English."

I hope this chat may amuse anybody that stumbles upon it!
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FurinkazanDaimyo

13 months ago
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On 14/05/2023, I visited Ōmi-Hachiman. It's known for its little streets with old buildings. Since the distance from the station to this neighbourhood and the castle is about 3km, I rented a bicycle. The rental service is next to the tourist office on the Western exit of the station. For one day you pay 800¥ for a bicycle with electric assistance. They have 3 models of these bikes, and you may choose which you want to use. So, before heading to the castle, I crisscrossed the streets. At the foot of the castle is a ropeway. It's 500¥ for one way and 800¥ for both. I descended the trail, from the mountain, so I took the 500¥ ticket. At the top are ishigaki(stone foundations) and a temple. I visited all the baileys and after the trail down the hill I went also to the ruins of Toyotomi Hidetsugu's yakata(mansion). Adam Robert Turner told me not to miss this part.
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ARTShogun

13 months ago
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Glad you made it
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RaymondWDaimyo

14 months ago
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ART, if you mean seeing almost all of the ishigaki on top of the mountain by following the established trails to see the ishigaki of all of the Honmaru, parts of the Ninomaru, the Kitanomaru, the Nishinomaru, and the Demaru on a “casual visit”, then I don’t think most people would opt for an “ART-type visit of unmolested ishigaki”. Some of these well-trodden walking paths take you down to below the Kitanomaru, Nishinomaru, and Demaru, so you can look up at the stone walls and not just merely walk on top of them. Also, I have been off the trails a number of times to see a few little sections of the ishigaki at the top of the mountain, but if a castle fan just follows the trails, they can see well over 90% of the ishigaki at the top of the mountain. That is not bad for a “casual visit”, and it’s certainly not as little as you have suggested. I’d be interested to know where you had to scramble around the top of the mountain and off the walking paths to see all the ishigaki, particularly the “unmolested segments”.

Omi-Hachiman Castle isn’t on the same scale as yamajiros like Kannonji Castle, Iimoriyama Castle, or Takatori Castle, all massive mountaintop castles in Kansai that would take multiple visits to see just many but not all of their baileys. Now, those yamajiros certainly require a lot more effort and time to visit.
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ARTShogun

14 months ago
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It requires more effort than a casual visit to see many of the least molested segments of ishigaki at the top of the castle mount because the walking paths go along the top of the ramparts with the stone work off the path below.
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RaymondWDaimyo

14 months ago
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G’day Matthew. It’s great that you have been to this much underrated yamajiro in Shiga twice. Not many castle fans will visit this castle ruin once let alone twice as it is overlooked by many tourists who tend to visit its more famous cousins nearby, namely Azuchi Castle and Hikone Castle. I wonder when you visited this castle ruin. The best time to see the ishigaki (stone walls) unobstructed by the trees is in winter when all the leaves are gone from the deciduous trees that surround the baileys at the top of the mountain. Naturally, the most photogenic time is during the autumn when the Japanese maple trees are at their fiery best, but around Golden Week is also a good time to go when you have that fresh green spring growth to complement some of the ishigaki.

It's not that much work (as suggested by ART) if you want to visit all the parts of this castle ruin including Hidetsugu Palace Ruin at the bottom of the mountain. You can do it all in around 3 to 4 hours, and even less time if you don’t take many photos. The key is to plan the route carefully, so you go up one trail taking in all the baileys on one of the spurs leading up the mountain and then coming down the other spur, either taking in Hidetsugu Palace first or last. That will still give you plenty of time to enjoy the historical town and relax at one of its restaurants or a pub.
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Matthew WardGunshi

14 months ago
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I've been to the mountaintop ruins twice. I'm not going to rate them because by reading the comments below, I've realized that there is a lot more to the castle than just the ishigaki on the mountain. I agree that the ishigaki on the mountain are not very impressive, but it's good to hear that there is a lot more to the castle. For what it's worth, Omi Hachiman itself is a fantastic historical town, and highly recommended.
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ARTShogun

14 months ago
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I think the ishigaki on the mount is impressive, and there's likely more than you saw, because it took me a lot of work to see what i did, but it's just marred in some places. That said, i'm super glad our comments offered some insight. The kyokan area i can definitely recommend if you happen to revisit Hachiman.
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Matthew WardGunshi

8 months ago
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I will definitely revisit Omi-Hachiman, just because I love the town. And I'll be sure to check out the kyokan.
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RaymondWDaimyo

16 months ago
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Good on you for posting an updated and near-comprehensive review of Omi-Hachiman Castle based on your second visit to this yamajiro.

>ART wrote: It might be said that a fourth part of the castle consists of some rudimentary earthworks defences along the ridge to the north of the castle, including a horikiri (trench) and some flattened areas.

I totally agree with your assessment here as there are clear earthwork remnants. Not many castle fans go to or notice this part of Omi-Hachiman Castle. It is not even included on maps of Omi-Hachiman Castle in published books, which until a few years did not even include the horikiri below the Northern Bailey.

It makes no sense that Omi-Hachiman Castle stops at the horikiri(ditch) on the north side when it is much more defensible to stop attackers coming up that steep mountain side about 100 metres further on from the North Bailey. Good on you for highlighting this in your review below of the castle. However, I would consider this as part of Omi-Hachiman Castle and not as a separate part.

Speaking of parts of Omi-Hachiman Castle, the mountaintop castle, a couple of sections of this yamajiro have been left out in your description. On the spur coming down from the Demaru Bailey, where the lower sections overlook the western side of the Hidetsugu Palace, there are several terraced baileys, some of them with stone wall (ishigaki) remnants. In one ishigaki section, you can see re-used temple stones with buddha carvings on them which I have mentioned before in another comment on this profile. This section of Omi-Hachiman Castle can be accessed from around the mid-level of western side of Hidetsugu Palace, on a new trail (see one of my comments below.)

There are also more baileys on the lower parts of the eastern slope of the mountain, located above the Himurehachimangu Shrine and the cable car station at the bottom of the mountain. These baileys are much bigger and with clearer earthworks remnants than the baileys located beyond the North Bailey at the top of the mountain.

>ART wrote: I am quite taken aback that more isn't being made of this fabulous kyokan site.

My feelings about Hidetsugu Palace are the same. I didn’t know about this palace on my first two visits to Omi-Hachiman. When I first visited this palace ruin on my third visit to Omi-Hachiman Castle a decade ago, it was even more overgrown and in less maintained condition than it is now, so there is some marginal improvement here. Omi-Hachiman Castle with the Hidetsugu Palace is one of the many little-known castle gems in Shiga. I reckon the Shiga tourism people are seriously failing in their job when it comes to properly promoting “castle tourism” in Shiga. All they (mainly) focus on is Hikone Castle, which is a great one to visit, but there are so many great castle ruins in Shiga that go unnoticed or less appreciated by (expat) castle fans. Eric, this website’s owner, is slowly addressing this on JCastle as he works his way through some of these top medieval castle ruins in Shiga. I know eventually he’ll get round to visiting some top ones not on JCastle (yet) such as Genbao, Kurokawashi, and Ogawa. You have also done your bit by writing about a few of these highly enjoyable castle sites with extant ruins, such as Kozutsumishiroyama Castle and Minakuchi-Okayama Castle.
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ARTShogun

16 months ago
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Thanks, Raymond. Would love to join you and Eric in an assault there. My impression of the northern outer ruins of the castle was that they were built at an earlier stage in the castle's history? And perhaps not refortified in the Momoyama period.
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ARTShogun

16 months ago
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Right then! ART's updated travelogue for this site:

My second visit to Ōmi-Hachimanjō was much more rewarding than my first whay back in 2016. My exploration of the site was near exhaustive, practical limitations considered. Ōmi-Hachimanjō is vast when one appreciates that it is essentially a castle in three parts. The first part is the yamajiro (mountaintop castle), which is the centre of the castle. The second part is so neglected by most visitors to the town so as to be almost a secret, but it is the ruins of the residential complex which Toyotomi Hidetsugu used as his actual residence (he did not live on the actual mountaintop). This area is the kyokan, the residential area attached to a yamajiro at the foot of the mountain, and it is a magnificent ruin unappreciated except by the most dedicated of castle explorers. The third part of the castle is the town itself, famous for its scenic canal and other traditional environs. It might be said that a fourth part of the castle consists of some rudimentary earthworks defences along the ridge to the north of the castle, including a horikiri (trench) and some flattened areas.

Part 1, the Mountaintop Castle

During my first visit to the castle I think I did a decent job of sussing out the ruins, but this time I tried to be as thorough as possible despite mostly sticking to the trails. The yamajiro is now the site of a temple complex centred around Zuiryūji, and so many areas are off-limits. As soon as one steps off the ropeway, which is a rare convenience for castle fans, one has already arrived at the castle proper. This is the third bailey and there are many ramparts of ishigaki (stone-piled walls) beneath one's feet. One has to peer out over the edge of the bailey to see most of them here. The ishigaki of the second bailey sit above the third and so are the first ruins one sees of the castle. In turn the ramparts of the main bailey are above the second bailey. If one takes the path to the left instead of the stairs to the right then one will also pass beneath the ishigaki of the honmaru (main bailey). This path leads around the castle precincts in a loop, passing through the demaru (projecting bailey), nishinomaru (western bailey), and kitanomaru (northern bailey), which together protect the honmaru. If one views the castle mount from the town below one can see the demaru ishigaki clearly since the trees have been cleared back.

I came away from the trail in quieter areas in order to inspect ishigaki not otherwise viewable from below. There are lots of ugly spots in the ishigaki of the honmaru, unfortunately, where pipes from the temple have been routed down or even through the masonry. Speaking of the temple, its main hall is said to be a relocated structure from Nijōjō, Kyōto. In order to fund repairs to the temple hall the temple now charges a ¥100 entrance fee. I was not well disposed to the temple from the point of view of a castle maniac, considering some of the dubious alterations made to the castle structure, but I didn't find that unreasonable; I was surprised at how many people turned back rather than paying the small fee. Despite alterations and strange steam-punkish arrangements of pipes in sections, the walls of the castle I found to be very beautiful for the most part. It is essential to preserve them properly.
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ARTShogun

16 months ago
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Part 2, Kyokan (Lord's Residence Area)

I came down from the mountaintop castle ruins via the ruins of Kitanoshōjō, and moved onto the kyokan area of Ōmi-Hachimanjō from the town rather than retrace my steps, though it is possible to go down to the kyokan via the castle's demaru. The kyokan, the site of the residence of Toyotomi Hidetsugu, one of the Sengoku period's more tragic figures, is now ruins, but what impressive ruins they are! The site is disguised as a mere local park, but it is in fact a tremendously valuable historic site. The kyokan is made up of a series of tall terraces in five or so bands, and many of the terraces are lined with towering ishigaki. Nearly all of this ishigaki hides in bamboo groves, and only one stalwart lower section is used as a backdrop for the park. If one takes the old main path up between the terracing one will come to a segment of ishigaki which once formed a masugata (box-shaped) gate complex. Hidetsugu's main residence would've sat in this uppermost section of the kyokan.

I am quite taken aback that more isn't being made of this fabulous kyokan site. Today it is just 'Hachiman Park', but it should be introduced to visitors as 'the Ruins of Toyotomi Hidetsugu's Palace'. I found even no mention of Hidetsugu at first, instead coming upon memorials for an Edo period mosquito net seller and another merchant! I thought they might've been cenotaphs for Hidetsugu, so it was sort of morbidly amusing when I read the descriptions. Eventually I did find a large (modern) statue to Hidetsugu in the park, so that was gratifying at least. Nevertheless, I could not shake the feeling that these ruins were being deliberately left to their desolation. Not even cursory information was presented about Hidetsugu and even at the castle ruins above there is little in the way of information: I found only a small, darkened display corner in the observation tower, next to a 'tunnel of love', and this was very easy to miss. To what does this owe? Hidetsugu was the nephew and heir of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the kampaku (regent) of Japan. Toyotomi Hideyoshi is a revered figure in Japanese history as one of the three unifiers of the nation following the Sengoku period, along with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yet his fiendish treatment of Hidetsugu upon the birth of his new heir, Hideyori, leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. One does not often hear of Hidetsugu's sad story and associated atrocities perpetrated by Hideyoshi. There is little to romanticise in it, and one wonders if this hasn't contributed to a lack of interest in Ōmi-Hachimanjō, Hidetsugu's seat of power whilst he lived. Instead more attention is paid to the town and its later Edo period history - though it was founded under Hidetsugu.
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RaymondWDaimyo

16 months ago
Score 1++
@Eric. It might be time for the JCastle website owner to revisit this yamajiro ruin and update it with newer and more extensive photos of this highly enjoyable mountaintop castle ruin with extensive stone walls.
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EricShogun

16 months ago
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I'll add it to the list for this fall! Hoping for some nice Koyo too :)
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RaymondWDaimyo

20 months ago
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@ART. Based on the comments that you have written in your (Omi-)Kitanosho Castle profile, it looks like you have revisited Omi-Hachiman Castle. You might want to revise your opinion of this magnificent yamajiro based on your recent visit. Your comment nearly 6 years ago is quite down on this castle, recommending castle fans visit a nearby temple instead. Omi-Hachiman Castle is another one of those fabulous yamajiros in Shiga that is much under-appreciated by many castle fans including me on my maiden or even my second or third visits. In my comments posted more than 12 years ago, I had not fully recognised the size of this yamajiro including the extent Hidetsugu's Palace at the base of the mountaintop. A dozen visits later and having completely explored all of this castle, going up or down from all the possible trailheads (six of them but some of them join up, so there are basically four trails up and down the mountain), this yamajiro and the castle town below combined is certainly worthy of 4 stars. Omi-Hachiman Castle with Hidetsugu's Palace is deservedly rated at least 3.5 stars if not 4 stars. If they cut down all the trees at the top of the mountain and reveal the entirety of this yamajiro, it would be little different from other well-known ishigaki-clad yamajiros like Takeda Castle, Kuroi Castle, and Arikoyama Castle.
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ARTShogun

20 months ago
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RaymondW, my views have certainly evolved from back when I first visited Hachimanjou. But in terms of the preservation of stone walls, that temple still wins out -- if ishigaki is the only metric. The issue with Hachimanjou's ishigaki are that - whilst over all they're great - parts have all sorts of pipes and stuff running through them. Some places have been concreted. It's painful to see that. But it's definitely a top site and I thank you for reminding me to revise my rating above. Due to how much fun I had last time I'll notch it up from a 2 to a 4 I think. One has to depart from the trails to see many of the less molested ishigaki at Hachimanjou but I wouldn't want any visitors to fall afoul of the temple... I must've wrote a new description for this site after my last visit so I'll post a new comment for my say on the site above. (And now to read the comment you kindly left on the Kitanoshou profile).
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RaymondWDaimyo

16 months ago
Score 1++

I know Omi-Hachiman Castle’s stone walls around the Honmaru have been marred by some modern pipes and one section of the Honmaru walls is reinforced with concrete. That is certainly unsightly but so are modern pipes running down the sides of some ishigaki at many other castles such as Hikone Castle, Himeji Castle, Nagoya Castle, and Osaka Castle. There are many more baileys at Omi-Hachiman Castle which have unmarred stone walls such as the Western Bailey, Northern Bailey, and the Demaru Bailey. If you include Hidetsugu Palace’s layers and layers of extant stone walls at base of the mountain, even on an ishigaki-only comparison, Omi-Hachiman Castle’s stone walls are more impressive than Chomeiji’s ishigaki. I went to Chomeiji last autumn to see for with myself why you have rated it, a temple, so highly when compared to Omi-Hachiman Castle, a geniune yamajiro. Chomeiji’s 800+ stone steps up to the top is impressive, and so is one section of the temple’s stone walls lower down the mountain, which was built incorporating a natural rocky outcrop. However historical and magnificent the temple buildings may be, on an ishigaki-only comparison basis, Omi-Hachiman Castle has more stone walls than Chomeiji. The panoramic views from the Western, Northern, and Demaru baileys at Omi-Hachiman Castle are also better with far fewer obstructions compared to the limited view at Chomeiji.

In some ways, the stone stairs leading to the top of Chomeiji is like a bigger and longer version of the way up to Kuwanomi Temple, located below Kannonji Castle. The path up to Chomeiji may also conjure up images of an easier version of the stone stairs up to Kamikura Shrine in Shingu, Wakayama. If one has time to visit both Omi-Hachiman Castle and Chomeiji on a trip to Omi-Hachiman, I recommend visiting both, but if I had to choose just one site, particularly if it is about seeing historical ishigaki, Omi-Hachiman Castle is the way to go unless you’re a temple fan.

BTW, rarely seen on any websites and only in one book that I know of, are stonewalls of one of the lower baileys of Omi-Hachiman Castle featuring some re-purposed temple stones with Buddhist carvings on them.

At the top of the mountain, almost all the castle’s ishigaki can be seen by following trails up the mountain and then around the baileys on well-worn and public paths. If one is planning to check out the layers and layers of stone walls at the Hidetsugu Palace ruin at the bottom of the mountain, some of them are on private land for growing bamboo, so in early spring, they had been off-limits with warning signs because farmers there were afraid of unscrupulous stealing bamboo shoots. However, in recent years, some of the warning signs have disappeared along with the creation of a new trail up the mountain from the Hidetsugu Palace ruin.

Omi-Hachiman Castle is indeed a very enjoyable yamajiro to visit. If anyone is thirsty after the short hike up and down the mountain, there’s a microbrewery called Two Rabbits along the Hachiman Moat which makes some good ales and beer.
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ARTShogun

16 months ago
Score 0++
Haha, I was fairly green six years ago, but I'm glad you visited that temple. I remember being quite struck by it. For me it was a realisation moment: temples have some pretty sweet ishigaki too. Of course, the castle is older and more extensive. I also visited the Hidetsugu residence site on my more recent visit to Hachiman. I'll update my comments as promised now.
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ARTShogun

91 months ago
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The moat is really scenic. For temple fans i recommend nearby Choumeiji, a mountain temple of ponderous resplendence. That temple has terraces with old, impressive ishigaki. More than once i wondered if i was looking at a castle ruin, but the stone walls may have been built just for the temple. Actually i'm writing this as a reminder to myself to check that no castle is recorded having been there.
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A22cricketAshigaru

159 months ago
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Went here in the late morning to finish off my goal of visiting every castle around Lake Biwa. Great site! The castle itself is now a shrine at the peak of Ohmi Hachiman Yama and is accessible by ropeway (Coupon available in the tourist info. center/former school house nearby) At the base is a shrine to Hachiman, the Shinto god of war, while at the top another shrine has been built on the walls of the former castle. The shrine was very lax about photos and I kind of went nuts snapping pictures of the altars and rooms. There are a few signs in Japanese telling visitors where the baileys and main tower used to be. Towards the west side of the peak there are clearings with great views of Lake Biwa as well as Azuchi towards the north. Definitely worth the 40 minute train ride from Kyoto city.
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Anonymous user #1

164 months ago
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I am so disappointed to say that I had completely forgotten about Omi-Hachiman until viewing this page. It was one of the stops during our sightseeing road trip during the winter of 2009 and whilst my in-laws spent most of their time keeping warm in a small restaurant my wife and I explored the picturesque town and the mountain. Due to the snow at the time we seemingly had the whole place to ourselves so everything was a relaxed pace. The town had a load of English signs and translations so is very tourist friendly, explaining the purpose of certain buildings and about the families who ran a few of the bigger businesses.

We took a cable car up to the mountain (the ever polite staff switched it on just for us since there were no other visitors) and the kind worker at the top station even gave us a few hot coffee cans to keep us warm in the snow. I never knew about the ruins until now, I guess the weather made them hard to see but we managed to climb to the temple at the top and admire the stunning view of Lake Biwa. Does anyone know if anyone lives up there? I was curious after seeing a small house behind the temple but never got around to asking anyone about it at the time. There is also a small gift shop up there (note: the world’s loneliest shopkeeper) with a few displays and paintings and to be honest, even though it is lacking on the castle side of things, I absolutely enjoyed it.
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Anonymous user #1

164 months ago
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I went to Omi-Hachiman in summer, after Odani but before Azuchi. Shiga-ken is haunted with castles and castle ruins. The old houses and streets were fascinating, completely worth stopping for, and wandering along the side of the moat and enjoying the sunshine was great. I spent a lot of time, more than I should have, trying to find that statue of Hidetsugu, but I wanted to email a photo of it to a friend. I also spent too much time trying to find Metholatum lip balm in the conbini - just so I could say I bought it from Omi. Very nice area for a walk.
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RaymondWDaimyo

167 months ago
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Two stars for the castle ruins, and three stars for the castle town below.
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RaymondWDaimyo

189 months ago
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I went to Omi-Hachiman yesterday, just two days before the end of 2008. There isn't much left of the castle except for some stone walls, and two open areas, a west bailey and a north bailey. The views from the two baileys are quite stunning on a fine winter’s day particularly when there is some snow on Mt. Hira on the other side of Lake Biwa from Mt. Hachiman. It takes around 45 minutes to walk up to the top of the hill, where the castle ruins are located. The starting point is near the cable car station at the bottom of the hill. Just walk past it, follow the road, and about 200m or so, there is a park with a statue of Toyotomi Hidetsugu. The trailhead is just behind the statue. It was slow going near the top because of ice and snow on the trail which made things a little slippery. That is why I decided to take the cable car down. The jewel in the crown when visiting Omi-Hachiman is the old part of the castle town around the moat at the base of hill where the castle once stood. There are still a lot of the old stone walls left around the moat, and there are many old wooden buildings, probably mainly from the Meiji Period, but it gives you a good idea of what a castle town was like towards the end of the Edo Period. Omi-Hachiman is about 40-45 minutes from Kyoto by JR trains.