Thursday, June 3, 2010

May 28: Omi Merchant Village

On Friday, the class visited the historic Omi Merchant Village area of Higashiomi. The streets were very narrow -- so narrow, even Okaa-san was a little nervous!

The houses that lined the streets were all quite traditional, and we had the opportunity to tour three of the historic Omi Merchant houses and gardens, all built in the late-1800s. The first house we toured was the Jyungoro Nakae House.

Jyungoro Nakae House

This house, like the next two houses we viewed, had a very open floor plan, with rooms sectioned off by sliding doors with screens. Furniture and ornamentation was minimal, but everything was very elegant nonetheless. The stairs leading to the second floor were extremely steep, but very sturdy. The garden of the Jyungoro Nakae House was green, lush, and beautiful. The path was marked by very worn-looking stepping stones, and moss was abundant.

Jyungoro Nakae House Garden

The second house we toured was the Uhe-e Tonomura House. There was a lovely set of sliding doors that faced the very large garden.

Uhe-e Tonomura House

The final house that we toured was the Shigeru Tonomura House. Sadly, we could not tour the garden, but there was a beautiful view of the garden and the surrounding area from the second floor.

Shigeru Tonomura House

After finishing our tour of the homes, our class went to lunch at a nearby restaurant. Steph and I had delicious cold kitsune udon, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere with a table of friends. The restaurant was playing music box versions of the songs from Studio Ghibli movies, and it brought a happy tear to my eye.

After lunch, a walk down the street led us to a Buddhist temple. Outside, along the road, koi were swimming in the channel. They were quite large and beautiful, and of course this excited everyone in the class! Next, we visited a Shinto shrine that was dedicated to the kami of Education.


Shinto Shrine

When we had finished visiting the shrine, the class toured a nearby museum that had an exhibit about Omi Merchants, as well as a show featuring beautiful Japanese landscape paintings. By then, many of us were very worn out, and Steph and I dozed off in the lobby. Oba-sensei recognized that the class was tired from so much sight-seeing and walking around, and we trekked to a bus stop in the middle of the rice fields. The bus finally arrived, and we were delighted to find that it had a creaky, wooden floor!

Upon our arrival at Yokaichi Station, we had a good hour and a half to browse the department store. Steph and I bought many delicious sweets, and enjoyed them thoroughly.


  1. The historic house(es) are gorgeous! I love the open floor plan, the tatami mats, how the doors slide open and you can even open them easily to the outside world. Let nature in! :)

  2. We were able to enjoy going sight seeing around
    "GOKASHO" area!
    It was very quiet and nice place.I also ate "KITSUNE UDON" at lunch.It was large size!
    Anyway we enjoyed a lot!