Omi Hachiman Castle 近江八幡城
Founder Hashiba Hidetsugu
Toyotomi
Year 1585
Type Hilltop
Condition Ruins
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Location Omi Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture
Map Google Map
Access 10 minute bus ride from Omi Hachiman Station (Tokaido Line)
Website Omi Hachiman City Hachimanbori History
Visited February 21, 2004
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.
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.

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  • ART    December 29, 2016 at 08:49 PM
    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.
  • Anonymous    August 17, 2011 at 09:04 PM
    I went to Omi Hachiman to see a festival held in the town's main shinto shrine. It was an amazing spectacle I would highly recommend if you are interested in culture. Thirteen floats each about the size of a car and painstakingly constructed over the preceding months were carried by teams of 10 men (also dressed up in disguise). The teams battled against each other running and hitting their floats into one another. After about six hours (it was now late evening) the winner was announced and all the floats were set alight one by one. Lots of sake - it was a pretty wild festival actually. I was told that the festival has been continuing every year for the past 400 years. If you would like to go, I believe it is held in April. It is called Sachigo Matsuri.
  • a22cricket on My Page    June 13, 2011 at 10:35 PM
    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.
  • James    January 22, 2011 at 05:15 AM
    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.
  • Kris on My Page    January 21, 2011 at 10:47 PM
    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.
  • RaymondW on My Page    October 09, 2010 at 09:46 AM
    Two stars for the castle ruins, and three stars for the castle town below.
  • Raymond    December 30, 2008 at 04:35 PM
    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.
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Omi Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture
Omi Hachiman Castle views
Castle town and Hachimanbori moat Castle town street
stone wall ruins Stone wall ruins
Stone wall ruins bailey overooking Lake Biwa
bailey overlooking the town View from the North bailey
View from the Western Outer Bailey map