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【Kansai Train Journey】 Enjoy the Original Japanese Landscape and Tour a Brewery!

Rediscover Japan’s good old days in Harie, an area that continues to preserve the ancient way of life by using spring water for domestic use. Let’s stroll through the original Japanese landscape where people coexist with the water! <This information is from Kansai Walker (issued September 19, 2017).>

<9:46 AM>JR Shin-asahi Station

Ride on the JR Kosei Line and treat yourself to a view of the majestic Lake Biwa from the train windows. This is one of the pleasures of going on a trip via train.

【16-minute walk】

<10:02 AM>Harie Shozu no Sato

The Harie district is a small settlement with an abundant supply of underground water from the Hira Mountains. Here, the so-called Kabata system is still in use, wherein the water that gushes out of every house is used in daily life, such as for drinking and cooking. Experience Harie’s precious water culture while walking around town.

At Harie-okawa River, which flows through the center of town, a dock for ships that carried cargo to Lake Biwa in the past still remains. From there, the scenery that will spread before you is something that you can only find if the river is clear - baikamo (a kind of flowering plant) and ayu (sweetfish) swimming upstream.

If you get a guide, you can also learn about things like the history of Harie Shozu no Sato (village of living water).

This is the water wheel that was used for milling in the past. It has become the symbol of this town. It currently supplies electricity to a nearby park.

The released koi (carp) are energetically swimming in the waterway.

There are two types of kabata that are filled with water gushing from underground – the kabata outside the house, and the kabata inside the house. The photo shows the exterior of an outdoor kabata.

This is the tsuboike where spring water directly flows. People use this for cooling or washing vegetables. Behind the tsuboike is the hataike, where the flowing water accumulates. If you raise carps here, and you put used dishes inside the water, the fish will eat the morsels and clean your dishes!

Simple cooking is also done here.

There is also a kabata that you can use for free in the parking area.

"Kabatas are still being used as kitchens by all the homes here. Note, though, that this is a private estate, and you might cause trouble or be a nuisance if you explore the town on your own, so please go on a guided tour,” suggested Chiyoko Fukuda, a guide in the area.

■ Harie Shozu no Sato <Phone: 0740-25-6566 (Harie Shozu no Sato Committee Office), Hours: 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM (for phone inquiries), Closed: Mondays, Fee: 1,000 JPY for a guided tour, Access: 15-minute walk from JR Shin-asahi Station>

【13-minute walk】

Harie Shozu no Sato

Harie, Shin-asahi-cho, Takashima-shi, Shiga

<12:00 PM>Kissa Collabo

Inside Kissa Collabo, which is a shop that is housed in a renovated warehouse, you can taste lunch dishes that generously use local ingredients and handmade sweets. The dishes created by its owner, who used to run a shop offering traditional Japanese dishes in Gion, have a delicate taste and look so beautiful. The kamado (hearth) rice with some burnt rice left inside is fluffy and tasty!

This is the Shugawari Gohan Plate (weekly rice plate) (1,080 JPY). There are plenty of vegetable dishes in the menu, such as marinated grilled eggplants and oba (perilla leaves), as well as green bell peppers and myoga (Japanese ginger) stir-fried with soy sauce.

This is a shop that uses old timber, used fittings, Omi Mizuya Tansu (chest drawers), and other folk crafts that were collected throughout a span of over 100 years. You can also enjoy traditional wooden architecture techniques here.

There is also a gallery that showcases original products from Takashima.

These are the Chicory Au Lait (front, 480 JPY), which is made from roasted chicory roots, and Tezukuri Baked Cheesecake (homemade baked cheesecake) (back, 350 JPY) that has lemon and cranberries inside.

■ Kissa Collabo <Phone: 080-9758-3780, Hours: 11:30 AM – 4:30 PM (last order) ※11:30 AM – 2:00 PM (last order) for lunch, Closed: Wednesdays (shop will be open if Wednesday is a public holiday), Seating capacity: Approx. 20 seats, Smoking: Separate areas for smokers and non-smokers, Access: 18-minute walk from JR Shin-asahi Station>

【11-minute walk】

Kissa Collabo

460 Asahi, Shin-asahi-cho, Takashima-shi, Shiga

<1:30 PM> Kawashima Sake Brewery

Kawashima Sake Brewery has been making healthy Japanese sake (alcohol) in the midst of lush nature since it was founded in 1865. Inside this retro shop, there are many local sake that use the famous spring water of Harie, as well as the high-quality Yamada Nishiki rice grown by local contract farmers. This brewery offers tours and taste tests. You can also purchase their products here.

You can go on a tour and sample the brewery’s products.

This is the smooth and refreshing Daiginjo Toju (right, 6,290 JPY). You must also try the Matsu no Hana Sen (2,020 JPY), which is a standard sake for homes that has a smooth taste and delicate fragrance.

■ Kawashima Sake Brewery <Phone: 0740-25-2202, Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Closed: None, Access: 15-minute walk from JR Shin-asahi Station>

【27-minute train ride and walk】

Kawashima Sake Brewery

8 Asahi, Shin-asahi-cho, Takashima-shi, Shiga

<2:30 PM>Omido

Omido is operated by Omi-su, which is the sole local vinegar brewery in Shiga. Here, you can enjoy many healthy products, from soft roll cakes and other sweets that generously use rich local eggs and specialty local ingredients, up to juice-like fruity vinegar that you can drink!

This is its retro shop, which has a romantic Taisho era vibe.

These are the famous Omi Roll Adoberry Cream (front, 1,200 JPY) that uses local ado berries, the drinkable Fruit Vinegar (right at the back, 870 JPY), and the Ginger Vinegar (left at the back, 650 JPY).

■ Omido <Phone: 0740-36-1586, Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Closed: Wednesdays, Seating capacity: 6 seats, Smoking: Non-smoking, Parking area: Approx. 5 vehicles (free), Access: 5-minute walk from JR Omi-Takashima Station>

【Approx. 5-minute taxi ride】

Omido

1406-2 Katsuno, Takashima-shi, Shiga

<2:50 PM>Shirahige Shrine

A famous power spot that is known for its massive torii (shrine gate) that stands in the middle of a lake, Shirahige Shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko no Mikoto (Sarutahiko Omikami), the deity of longevity. It has been drawing worshippers of its enshrined deity, who provides good matchmaking, safety at sea and all other directions of life. If you want to meet a good match, pray to the deity!

It is also called Omi no Itsukushima for its appearance, which has Okinoshima floating on Lake Biwa at its back.

The Honden (main shrine) has also been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. According to Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s will, it was built in 1603.

“Depending on the weather and the time of day, the color of the lake water changes to blue or gray, so you will get to see many different faces of the lake. Furthermore, when the main torii is illuminated by the early morning sun, you will be enveloped in an extremely solemn atmosphere,” said Haruki Umetsuji, a Shinto priest.

■ Shirahige Shrine <Phone: 0740-36-1555, Hours: Worshipping can be done anytime, Closed: None, Admission fee: Entering to worship is free, Access: 35-minute walk or approx. 5-minute taxi ride from JR Omi-Takashima Station>

Shirahige Shrine

215 Ukawa, Takashima-shi, Shiga

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 10.25.2017]

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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