Enjoying Lake Biwa 琵琶湖

Last weekend was a special weekend out of many reasons, one of it was that I could attend a so called “Liederabend”, an evening of songs from Brahms, performed by a friend of mine in Omihachiman 近江八幡 in Shiga prefecture 滋賀県. On the way there we visited the famous Hikone castle, and on the way back a Ume-Bonsai-exhibiton. A very nice and full weekend.

Hikone-jo, one of the few castles that have not been destroyed during the wars, and which remains in full beauty.

Hikone castle is one of the few castles that escaped destruction during the long years, and in addition designated as national treasure. Built on a hill near Lake Biwa, it overlooks both the lake as well as the nearby flats, once of great importance for the merchants shipping their goods via the Lake Biwa to the north coast of Japan and of to other places in Japan and on the continent.

As the Japanese adore lists, there are the list of the “Best 3 whatever”, as well as 100-list (Top 100 mountains), but what we found here was something new, Soundscapes. I am sure I have greatly improved the soundscape there!

Norbert - one of the 100 Selected Soundscapes of Japan

Within the castle there are the usual empty rooms, with a few displays, and nice views from the top. Of course the obligatory warning signs never work for me – Mind your head!

Everything is sooo small - take care for your head!

Next to the Castle there is a Japanese garden, with a pond, several bridges, great style. These rocks in the lake reminded me of those often found in Japanese Zen stone gardens.

These stones reminded me of the stones often set into a stone-Zen garden

After the visit to castle and park we hurried to Omihachiman, a small but very nice township with many well preserved merchant houses, an interesting temple, and most importantly, the Shuyukan, a Sake factory, event location, and more full of good friends of mine. I have been visiting this place since 2 years now, and I was always heartly welcomed. Besides making excellent Sake, it is stage to alternative music events (no JPOP please), as well as literature and art.

Today there is a special event, as my friend Keiko is performing a Liederabend, songs by Brahms, accompanied by Piano. What a 懐かしい feeling, hearing German songs since such a long time. Thanks Keiko for this great event!

Keiko singing Brahms Lieder, what a nice event

On the next day we visited but interesting museum in Omihachiman, and took some cake and coffee in the Club Harie Coffee, with excellent cakes and Baumkuchen. I took something fitting to the cake: Egoist, full of chocolate and nuts.

My piece of cake: The so called Egoist, full of chocolate.

On our way back to Kanazawa we stopped at Nagahama 長浜 for the yearly Bonbai exhibition (English, Japanese). Bonbai 盆梅 denotes a Japanese apricot (Ume, see this entry) tree in Bonsai style. Since 1952 Nagahama houses this exhibition, featuring trees as old as 400 years.

Shade plays

More photos can as usual be found in my photo gallery: Shiga-ken: Hikone-jo, Omihachiman, Ume Bonsai

A map of the different places:

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