Tuesday, 12 May 2009

a day trip to Shiga: a serene boat tour

Omihachiman, Shiga Pref.

During the holiday I went on a boat ride tour at Omihachiman in Shiga prefecture with friends.

The boat is long and narrow, only 8 seats with a boatman. There are 3 or 4 companies run similar tours and some use boats with engine, which I imagine might be rather noisy.We were recommended to take an old style boat tour by someone who knows the area pretty well and we were thankful we did.

The tour took 90 minutes and started on a canal. The boat soon went into a river which skirts Omihachiman. The river broadened in front of us and we could only hear the sound of nature, frogs, birds, wind and water. It was absolutely calm and pleasant.

The town is only 40 minutes train ride from Kyoto and what we experienced was very different from Kyoto. This space and quietness is hard to find in this area. It was a very good day-out.

He is our boatman, in his 70’s, and had started the job after his retirement and is surprisingly fit for his age. He told us the tour runs all year round showing the seasonal changes. Planting rice has just finished and the water from paddy fields made the river water muddy and unclear this time of the year. The river and canal used to be the area’s major artery and families had their own boats in the past.

Although some of us would have liked to visit the well-known old merchant town of Omihachiman, we had to leave without doing so due to our barbecue party planned for the afternoon.

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