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Hikonyan at Hikone Castle
I heard about Hikone Castle's mascot, a samurai cat named Hikonyan, and wanted to go there.
Hikone Castle is on a small hill and we have to go up a winding wooden bridge to get to it. I went to the top of the castle and could see a great view of Lake Biwa (Biwako) because it was a beautiful clear but cold day. The castle is really close to the lake, and I didn't even realize that before going.
There is a separate Castle museum and a traditional Japanese garden where we can have Japanese tea. It's not a long tea ceremony, just real green tea and a snack, for 500 yen. It was nice to sit inside and drink something warm while enjoying the view of the garden. I heard the garden is a good place for seeing cherry blossoms in the spring also.
Outside of the castle there are several small shrines and temples. There's a souvenir shop, Beishia, and other nearby stores with lots of cute Hikonyan items, so I got some omiyage for my coworkers. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of Hikonyan, but you can find some online.
This is a typical Japanese castle, and most Japanese people think they're all sort of the same. For me, I like this one because of the mascot, the view of Biwako, and the huge stone foundation and gardens around the castle. I just went there for the day from Osaka, but if I had more time, there must be a lot around the lake and in the city of Hikone, although it's a small city. One interesting point is Hikone Castle isn't completely rebuilt like so many of Japan's castles. It wasn't destroyed a long time ago, so it has only been repaired.
Hikone Station is nearby, and on the opposite side of the castle is Biwako. Open 8:30-17:30, entrance fee 600 yen (separate fee for the museum is 500 yen).
522-0061 Shiga-ken, Hikone-shi, Konkichō 1-1