Hikone is a small city at the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake.

Hikone’s most famous historical site is Hikone Castle. Its construction was begun in 1603 by Ii Naokatsu, son of the former lord, Ii Naomasa, but was not completed until 1622. When the Meiji period began in 1868, many castles were scheduled to be dismantled and only a request from the Emperor Meiji himself, touring the area, kept Hikone Castle intact.

Today it remains one of the oldest original-construction castles in Japan and is one of only four castles designated as national treasures.

In 1937, Hikone became a charter city and developed into a small center of light commerce and industry. In 1999, a small area south of the castle, called the Yume Kyobashi Castle Road, was built in the old style and attracts visitors keen to see modern construction fused with traditional looks. This “old-new town” street is lined with shops selling many unique Hikone items. Even the Kansai Urban Bank in this district has remodeled itself to fit in with the surrounding structures.

The Chusenjin Kaido and the Nakasendo Kaido were passed through Hikone. The Nakasendo was one of the most important trading routes during the Edo period, and is home to two former post stations, Toriimoto-juku and Takamiya-juku.

Hikone makes an easy and pleasant 3-6 hour stop-over on a trip between Tokyo and Kyoto or a side trip from Kyoto.

Ask Japan Holidays about tours of this famous city.