The artworks are showcased in houses and factories throughout the old town district. Most of them were built in the Edo period with traditional craftsmanship. We hope you enjoy the slow pace and laid-back streets the town offers as you walk between venues.
OGA SHOTEN (BB Information Desk)
A 150 year old building with history. Pre World War Two it was a wholesale sugar business, and post war it became a wholesaler for footwear. In 2007 it reopened its door as a cafe, gallery, and shop; becoming a creative outlet and popular destination. Visitors can enjoy various events and art shows in the gallery space with its unique features: the space was once used as a garage.
A building with more than 100 years of history.
People from the neighborhood remember that it has been for rent, with tenants coming and going, since the beginning of the Showa era. From the end of the war to the mid 60’s, it was occupied by a fuel retailer. Afterwards, it became a residence known as the Oga’s House.
Mr. Naraoka, who recently acquired the house, has since then transformed the front area into an antique shop.
A signature soy sauce brewery in Omihachiman; the kura was a storehouse for mash. There was a period when the brewery produced nearly 50,000 masu of soy sauce a year, but they went out of business in the Showa period. Concrete walls were once installed in the storehouse and it served as a kitchen to prepare lunch for the local school. With the concrete removed, it is now returned to the mud walls and bare floor of its original state, making it a rare and valuable building.
This large space used to be the Nishikatsu Sake brewery, which had a history of 300 years.
Regrettably, they stopped operating in 2008. It is the only sake brewery original to Omihachiman. In 2012 it was given the name “Machiya Club” and has since been operating as a hub for local business and promoting urban renewal. The place feels like a maze; with many rooms that were once used for various purposes involved in the process of brewing sake.
カネ吉別邸KANEKICHI Second House
Kanekichi butchers, founded in 1896 and famous for Omi beef, owns the villa nowadays. Though the previous history of this machiya is unknown, it is believed to have been owned by a lumber merchant who prospered during the Edo period; the impressive beams of the building give it a calm demeanor. An additional point of interest is the light entering through the skylight in the back of the warehouse, giving it a sense of mystery.
Fuji-ya belongs to a branch of the Fujita family, whose main residence used to be where the restaurant Sennaritei is currently located.The exact year of construction is still unknown, but we can assume that this well-located and rather successful merchant house is one of the oldest buildings in Omihachiman, and that it is dated from the mid or late Edo period (1692-1867). It was already part of the Biennale in 2010 as an exhibition venue.Today, thanks to Mr Fujiki’s careful maintenance work, it has become a space that keeps the original building’s spirit alive.
Nakamura (Haiya) Kyubei’s old house. Nakamura Kyubei was a liegeman of Hidetsugu Toyotomi and samurai turned merchant. His business, with the trade name Haiya Kyubei, dealt with lime which is necessary for the dyeing process. In 1745 the original building burned down and was rebuilt in 1855 by the sixth generation of Nakamura. “中”, the character for “naka”, can be seen on the door facing the street to this day.
Though the original use of the space and its owner are uncertain, it was particularly prosperous among the Hachimanbori canal businesses which shipped goods throughout Japan. Thus, it is believed to have been used as a warehouse for storing merchandise. The beams and plaster walls of the building were renovated during the Heisei period using traditional materials to maintain its original appearance. It is now used as a storefront for “Omi Tsukudaini Okumura” and sells prepared fish from Lake Biwa, caught fresh by the fishermen of Okishima Island. Okumura Hachibori is a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
八幡山展望館Mt.Hachiman Observation Deck
Just a four minute ride up the tram, the observation lodge provides a 360 degree view and overlooks the town of Omihachiman with its traditional grid layout. On the top of the mountain, Hachiman’yama castle had a short, sad history as it fell only 10 years after construction when the lord of the castle, Hidetsugu, committed suicide by harakiri. All that remains today is a stonewall of the castle keep and traces of the nishinomaru. As you walk through the remains, witness the history of rise and fall, and experience the artwork; it will provide you a new perspective.
The temple on top of Mt. Hachiman is today the only Nichiren buddhist temple. It was built during the Azuchi Momoyama period by Hidetsugu Toyotomi’s mother (Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s older sister) and is dedicated to the soul of Hidetsugu’s bodhi. It was originally built in Kyoto, and then moved to its current location in 1961. From the temple overlook, you can enjoy superb views of Omihachiman and Lake Biwa.
TERAMOTO’s House (BB Shop)
Teramoto’s House is believed to have been one of the first tiles factories in Omihachiman. The omoya (central area) is estimated to be 180 years old. During the Genroku period (1688~1704), the Jinbei Teramoto family from Fukakusa (Kyoto) set up a branch in Omihachiman and started the tiles business.The tiles museum next to the Teramoto residence used to be part of the factory, until it went out of business around 1980. Tools such as wood casts or spatulas used by artisans from those times can still be found in the warehouse.
喜多七右衛門邸KITA SHICHIEMON’s House
The Kita Shichiemon house served mainly as a tatami and hemp wholesale distributor beginning in the Edo period. The tatami was made by a regional decree of Nobunaga Oda, who used it himself. Kita Shichiemon prospered in the tatami business and distributed mats throughout Japan until the mid Taisho period (1912-1926). Such a fine hall demonstrates the success of both the Kita Shichiemon’s business and the Omi merchants.