Hikone Castle Walking Tour is a 12.9 mile out and back trail located near the city of Hikone. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking and walking.
Hikone Castle is one of the oldest original-constructed castles in Japan. Hikone-jo's existence was brought-about by parts of three castles lovingly crafted into one to create a masterpiece with the "Genkyuen Gardens" at the base of the castle. Construction of Hikone-jo commenced in 1603,when Ii Naokatsu, son of a former Daimyo (a powerful territorial Lord), ordered it's construction. The castle's Keep (a central tower used as a dungeon or fortress)was originally built in 1575,as part of Otsu-jo,and moved to Hikone by the Ii Clan. Other parts of the castle were moved from Nagahama-jo, which was originally built between 1575 to 1576, but demolished in 1615.The rocks & stones used in the construction of the Foundation and Moat Walls, were collected from Sawayama-jo after it's demolition. Nineteen years later in 1622,Hikone-jo was finally completed. At the base of Hikone-jo is the Genkyuen Gardens. Constructed in 1677, for the then local Lord,Genkyuen Gardens were used for the entertainment of his guests and family. It is a "Japanese Landscape Garden", with a central pond and circular walking trail and is designed after a Palace garden in Tang, China.The pond has four small islands, that are connected by bridges, with a cluster of wooden buildings overlooking the pond. In the past these buildings were used as places of entertainment for the Lord's guests, but today, you can use them to experience a "Japanese Tea Ceremony". Within the garden grounds stands the Rakurakeun Palace, which once served as the residence of the Lord's family. The complex is currently undergoing renovation, and is not due for completion until 2025, but, don't let that put you off your visit to Genkyuen Gardens. This trail commences at the Hikone Station, then after a ten-minute walk you will arrive at the Hikone-jo complex. After a tour through the buildings that make-up the complex, you will then be taken to the gardens where you can stroll and take-in the surrounding beauty. From the gardens your trail will take you,via the "Hikone Castle Museum", to an area to the south of the castle known as "Yume Kyobashi Castle Road." Here you will get to experience the fusion of modern construction, with that of the Japan of the past. You can also satisfy your hunger at one of the many eateries and check-out the souvenir shops. Then, it's back to Hikone Station. If at this stage you have had enough sightseeing for the day, you can board the J.R.Train and return to your base. But if you feel you want to see more of this area, you can take a side-trip to Taga Town and the "Taga Taisha Shrine".Your Ohmi Railway's train (the station is attached to the J.R.Hikone Station) will take you out into the countryside to the lovely wee town of Taga, and the famous Taga Taisha Shrine. You can also enjoy a coffee in a cute little cafe, before you re-board the Ohmi Railway train for Hikone.