Another day that I am off from work. I can feel every day now how the time flies. At the beginning I thought these days will never pass by. Especially the first month felt so long. I never did so much on my free days. Most of the time I just relaxed from work, like everyone. But now I kind of feel the pressure, that I am not forever in Japan and when I am leaving this place, who knows if I will ever be back. That sounds really sad, but Japan is just on the other side of the world and not a destination I can go for every little holiday I have. Right now, I am really happy here. I know how everything works, I am settled in my apartment and the work, I am not under pressure every day and the weather is getting warmer and warmer. After work, I don’t say that I am going back to my apartment, I say that I am going back home. Of course, it is not the same as my real home, but for now it has to be.
What I wanted to say by that is, that I really enjoy and appreciate the Japanese culture, nature and cities. Therefore, I feel a little bit the pressure to see every day I am free something new. This day I actually haven’t planned anything. Nydia and I wanted to do something together, but at the end she ended up doing her homework and chilling. I could have needed a relaxing day as well. I really did a lot the last days or weeks.
But then I just decided to go! I headed to the closest subway and made my way to Hikone. It took me like 1,5 hours to get there. I needed to change at Yamashina station to the JR line. This time I made sure it is the rapid train and not the local one, that stops at every single station possible. I listened to music and enjoyed the beautiful view from the train. When I arrived, I was so lucky to catch the free shuttle to Hikone port. Yesterday I looked on a website that there is a little island on the lake, which you can reach from Hikone port. Spontaneously I decided to go for it. I went to the Tourist information right at the station. The lady was so kind and guided me to the bus, because she couldn’t speak English to explain it to me. I was so lucky. I arrived at 10:28 and the bus left at 10:30. But hey, I made it.
At the port I bought the ferry round ticket to Chikubushima island. At 11 o clock the boat took off. I felt like I am in a completely different place, far away from Kyoto. It was like a little holiday excursion. That’s how I felt. Because it is not the busiest season right now and Hikone is not a very popular tourist place, there were like 8 other people with me on the boat. I really enjoyed it.
The view on the lake and the mountains was just amazing and the weather couldn’t have been better. I was so glad that I decided to come here instead of laying in my bed watching Netflix movies. The ferry right took about 40 minutes. It was really exciting when we came to the little island. Such a unique place. To enter this place, you have to pay a reasonable fee of 400 yen, which is about 3,30€.
The world UNESCO heritage island is the second largest on Lake Biwa, with a diameter of 2 km. The Chikubushima Hogonji Temple is really beautiful, as well as the three-tiered pagoda at the top of the island. You have to walk quite a lot of steps to reach this point, which is absolutely worth it. You get a beautiful view as well! But my favourite spot was Tsukuba Suma Shrine. The main temple was under construction, like always when I am there. But the beautiful area right on the lake was stunning. The shrine in front of the water and the mountain scenery is something I haven’t seen before. Absolutely beautiful.
After 70min the boat headed back to Hikone again. The time was absolutely perfect in order to explore the little island. On the way back I just chilled. I think I found a nice combination between seeing new places and relaxing from work.
We arrived at Hikone port around 13:30. I waited until 13:50 to catch the free shuttle bus back to the station. I was lucky that two women asked the bus driver to stop close to Hikone castle. Therefore, I didn’t need to walk everything back on my own. I reached the entrance for the castle in 10-15 minutes, at the same moment as the Chinese tourist group. Jipi! Haha! But it was actually still very quiet, and they were surprisingly not annoying at all.
The castle itself was under construction as well, but it didn’t influence the experience so much. I went inside. Pretty dangerous to climb all the stairs up. Every worker their told me: “Watch your head”! Haha, no one else needed to worry about it. Obviously! But the view from there was beautiful. Hikone really is a little town surrounded by nature.
From the castle I made my way down to Genkyuen Garden. Because of the construction I needed to walk a longer way around to reach this place, but the way through the forest was very nice, as well as the garden itself. It looked beautiful to see the garden, with the water, all the little bridges, traditional houses and the castle at the back as well. The sun and this excursion really made me happy!
Afterward I headed to an apparently popular street. There weren’t many people, but the whole city was quite calm. On the street were many restaurants, matcha ice cream and souvenir shops. I just walked through the street and the centre of Hikone castle town to see what else is there to see. But there isn’t much. There are actually two “Hikone” towns. One, which is “Hikone castle town” and the other “untouristy” one.
I saw everything I wanted and headed back to the station. The train I supposed to take just took off when I arrived. Therefore, I waited half an hour until the next one came. The train and subway ride went smoothly, but I was just happy when I arrived around 5:50 pm at home. I cooked myself some dinner, watched some YouTube videos and went to sleep. Everyone on Instagram asked me where I have been, because the lake just looked from another place. I really had a little holiday feeling today, but working tomorrow? No, thank you!