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Inside Sakamoto Historic Town

Highlights

  • Walk around the historic temple town of Sakamoto
  • Visit Shigain-Monzeki, a former residence of the imperial-blooded head monks
  • Stroll around the Hiyoshitaisha shrine complex sprawling in a tranquil cedar forest
  • Old mossy stone walls lining the streets
  • Lunch stop at a 300-year-old traditional soba restaurant (food/drink not included)
  • Leasurely train ride on the Keihan line through the countryside

Description

In this tour, we explore Sakamoto, a historic town located on the western shore of Lake Biwa. Sitting on the skirts of Hiei-zan (Mt. Hiei), Sakamoto has been flourished for over 1,000 years as a temple town of Enryakuji, the huge Buddhist monastery complex dubbed the "Mother of Japanese Buddhism" on the mountaintop. Around the town there is a cluster of old temples and shrines, as well as "satobo", residences for retired monks of Enryakuji. Besides religious spots, traditional-style houses and shops, small water channels from the mountain and moss-covered stone walls along the streets accentuate the town's quaint ambience. We visit not only must-see religious landmarks but also some small interesting places on the way where you can get more insights into Japanese history and culture.

Starting from JR Kyoto Station, the tour takes a train north for about 15 minutes to Hieizan-Sakamoto Station. After passing through two tunnels, the glittering Lake Biwa will come into sight through the train window on your right, and the lush green (often white in winter) of the range of Hiei-zan, on the left. From the station, we start walking through residential areas of Sakamoto town, seeing ordinary life of the locals. Some small worship places are visited on the route. As we go uphill, more mossy stone walls, traditional architectures, temples and shrines come into view. We have lunch at the town's famous 300-year-old soba buckwheat noodle restaurant a little before noon. Soba is one of the town's specialties, the restaurant serves some other dishes as well though.

After lunch, the tour heads into the heart of the historic area of Sakamoto. The first destination of our afternoon walk is Shigain-Monzeki temple, which is the main satobo where the imperial-blooded head monks had lived. Here you see a traditional Japanese landscape garden and many pieces of Buddhist art. What waits for us next is 2,100 years old Hiyoshitaisha shrine complex, which is known as the head quarter of about 3,800 Hiyoshi or Hie shrines throughout the country and as a guardian shrine of the former capital of Kyoto as well. When you stroll around the vast precincts nestled in a tranquil deep cedar forest, you will feel that religions in Japan have an intimate relation with nature.

Leaving Hiyoshitaisha shrine, we walk down to Sakamoto Station of Keihan Railway and then make our way home. You can enjoy a short leisurely two-car train ride on the Keihan line passing through the countryside before the tour's end in Kyoto.

Itinerary

JR Kyoto Station (Departure)

Train

JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station

Walk

Strolling around the Sakamoto town
- Lunch
- Shigain-Monzeki
- Hiyoshitaisha shrine
- Other small temples and shrines on the way

Train (Keihan Line)

JR Otsukyo Station

Train

JR Kyoto Station (Return)

Tour includes

  • English-speaking tour conductor (licensed guide interpreter)
  • Admission fees to temples and shrines listed above
  • Fare for all transportation listed above
  • Insurance
  • Local tax

Tour does NOT include

  • Lunch (Please take whatever you would like at the lunch venue)

Remarks

  • If you stay in Shiga Prefecture, our departure and return point may be changed into a more convenient place.
  • Packing light and wearing comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended. We will walk 4-5 kilometers and parts of paths in temples and shrines are gravel. A coin-operated locker is available at JR Kyoto Station.
  • Be sure to be prepared for all weather conditions depending on the season.
  • A few more places may be visited in accordance with your request if time and other conditions allow.
  • Seats in public transportations are not guaranteed.
  • Itinerary may change without earlier notice due to weather and transport conditions or any unforeseen circumstance(s).

Gallery

Jizo Buddha statues at Hiyositaisha shrine
Stone walls in Sakamoto Garden in Shigain-Monzeki Stone path in the shade of trees
300-year-old soba noodle restaurant Stone bridges in Hiyoshitaisha Shrine Keihan Railway Line
Booking Enquiry Form »

Price (per person):

No. of person(s)Price
1¥18,000
2-3¥14,000
4-5¥10,000
6-10¥8,500

Children under 5 are free of charge and not included in guest count.

Discounts!

  • ¥500pp off for adults with a valid JR pass
  • ¥800pp/¥600pp off for children aged 6-11 with/without a valid JR pass

Tour operates:

Every day

Group size:

Minimum 1 / Maximum 10

Language:

English (and of course Japanese)


Meeting time:

10:00 am

* The meeting (departing) time can be arranged between 9:00-11:30 am upon your request. Returning time will be changed accordingly.

Meeting point:

JR Kyoto Station (Next to the JR Information desk in the central concourse)  » MAP

Your tour conductor with a YUtour's logo card hung from his neck will be waiting to greet you.

Returning time:

4:00 pm approx.