About KOHOKU Tour
“KOHOKU” (湖北) in Japanese means a northern district of Lake Biwa (琵琶湖) in Shiga prefecture, and Nagahama city (長浜) dominates the whole area, about 540 km2 (209 square miles). The weather here is relatively mild throughout spring to fall, though it often snows in winter due to cold and humid wind from the sea of Japan. The population is about 116,000 as of 2022, the 3rd largest city in Shiga. The basis of Nagahama was established when Hideyoshi, one of the 3 heroes in the Provincial War Era, built his own castle here in 1575.
The central district of Nagahama had been not only a center of commerce and industry but a strategic place still in Edo Period. That is why the railroad was laid between Nagahama and Tsuruga in Fukui pref., one of the important port cities in Japan Sea costal areas, as early as 1884, thanks to their ringing voice and contribution of wealthy merchants who had acquired a lot of power through the local silk industry.
Location of KOHOKU in Shiga Pref.
The charms of Nagahama tourism can be summarized as the following 4 features;
1) Many Places Associated with the Provincial War Era
The representative examples:
(a) The Azai’s who ruled KOHOKU district, based at Odani castle (1530 – 1573)
(b) The decisive war concerning the next heir was fought at Shizugatake mountain between Hideyoshi and Katsuie (1583)
(c) As a reward of his achievement in the war against the Azai’s, Hideyoshi got a territory at Nagahama and built his first castle here (1583)
(d) Since there used to be iron-making technology here from ancient times, workers in iron at Kunitomo hamlet in Nagahama were able to replicate a gun as early as within 1 year after it arrived in Japan (1544)
2) Beautiful Nature of Four Seasons
(a) The symbol of spring in Japan is, of course, cherry blossom. And one of the 100 best selections in Japan is breathtaking beauty at Nagahama Jyo castle!
(b) Visitors can fully enjoy a canoe journey in Sugaura bay in summer.
(c) Autumnal leaves at Keisoku-ji temple is said to be one of the best in Western Japan. You mustn’t miss it!
(d) How about enjoying snowshoe hiking around Lake Yogo and to Shizugatake Mountain?
3) Traditional Events & Culture of Worship
(a) Nagahama Hikiyama Festival, the origin of which capital was given from Hideyoshi, when the tycoon had a baby boy. It was registered as the UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage in 2016
(b) Nagahama is said to be a treasure house of Buddhism culture property, which have been protected by the village folks for more than 1200 years
(c) The Island where the God lives, Chikubu-shima Island
The island has been the object of worship from no less than 1,300 years ago. There are Hogon-ji temple, the principal image of which is one of the three Benzai-ten Goddess in Japan, and Tsukubushima-shrine, the main hall of which is a national treasure.
4) Modernization Heritages of Meiji’s Civilization & Enlightenment
(a) Thanks to passionate endeavor by the merchants in Nagahama, the railroad station was established here at Nagahama in 1882, and it became a strong driving force for building the first elementary school and a national bank here at Nagahama.
KOHOKU Tour aims to make all the guests from abroad feel a sense of intimacy about all these unique but profound attractions in KOHOKU, having heart to heart talks with the local people here.
Let me Introduce Myself!
My name is Yoshi, alias known as “Lonesome Cowboy”, who used to live and work in El Paso in the Lone Star state of the US. During my stay there, I was able to enjoy opportunities to go around the Southwest (TX, NM, AZ, UT, CO) alone, taking advantage of given long holidays. The total distance I drove was no less than 3,000 km (about 1,900 miles).
I dropped by a motel in a countryside town along the highway, drank several glasses of whiskey at the bar, and the next day continued travelling for other new towns that I had never seen before. I felt that I was just a cowboy wandering place to place of the wide country in the middle of the 19th century.
Long time has passed since I had come back to Japan from that exciting and fulfilling life there, and I already retired and came back to my hometown, KOHOKU (湖北; The northern region of lake Biwa, Shiga pref.) When I recall back those good old days, a kind of feeling that I would like to serve tourists from abroad has bubbled over in my mind. I want to help you to see and enjoy quite distinctive four seasons, impressive legends and moving stories caused by historic happenings, and casual everyday lives of the village people here.
Let me guide you around KOHOKU, which is not definitely on the Golden route of Japan travel and will not become in the future either, but we believe you must be able to feel and catch a kind of essence of the Japanese people who had created and have developed the deep and genuine culture. Such nature, historical events and crystallization of the people’s effort are the ultimate attraction of KOHOKU.