Omihakkei (the eight views of Omi) (近江八景)

Omihakkei is one of Hakkei (the most beautiful scenes of a certain area) in Japan. The eight views are selected from the southern part of Biwa Lake, being modeled after Shosho Hakkei-zu (Eight views of the Xiao and the Xiang in China) (completed in the Northern Song Dynasty period). The paintings show a series of typical water landscapes seen in the Lake Dotei and the river running from Shoko to its tributary, Shosui in Hunan Province. It was the first hakkei to be selected in Japan.

Some historical materials describe that Masaie KONOE (a court noble) who stayed in Omi Province in 1500 made waka (a genre of classical Japanese verse) relating to Omi. However, studying "Gohokoinki", Masaie's Diary found that he stayed in his house all day on September 16, 1500 when he was considered to stay in Omi and make waka for Omihakkei.

Moreover, Kokei BAN saw a scroll of Omihakkei waka written by a chief adviser to the Emperor, Nobutada KONOE, himself during the Keicho era in his acquaintance's home. The colophon of the scroll explains the details about how the eight views that are the same places of the present eight views were selected. With this scroll and its colophon, the theory that the present Omihakkei was established by Nobutada KONOE is prevailing (the original of the colophon has not been confirmed).

Actually, if Masaie had established Omihakkei, some historic evidence of Omihakkei drawings produced in the Muromachi period should have existed. However, such evidence has not been identified. Regarding the fact that art work relating to Omihakkei appeared in the late 17th century, it is natural that waka which should be ahead of art work was established in the early 17th century.


Ishiyama no Shugetsu (Autumn Moon at Ishiyama)
Ishayama-dera Temple
Seta no Sekisho (the red sky at sunset in Seta)
Seta no Kara-hashi Bridge
Awazu no Seiran (a haze hung over the hills in Awazu)
Yabase no kihan (Sailing Back to Yabase)
Mii no Bansho (the evening bell in Mii-dera Temple)
Mii-dera Temple
Karasaki no yayu (Night Rain at Karasaki)
Karasaki-jinjya Shrine
Katata no Rakugan (wild geese flying down from the sky in Katata)
Hira no bosetsu (The Snow in December of Mt. Hira)
Hirasan kei (Hira mountain range)

The pictures below are 'Omihakkei' painted by Hiroshige UTAGAWA

Shoka (songs sung in school under old education system)
In the first series, Tokaido of "Tetsudo Shoka (Songs of Railways)" written by Takeki OWADA in 1900, the views of Omihakkei appears in the all lyrics. The reason of this was that Takaki seemed to be deeply interested in Omihakkei and make an extra effort to insert the views into the lyrics.

39. I finally get used to seeing the color of the waves of Omi sea. I enjoy traveling while seeing the view of Hakkei. 40. I go to Ishiyama Kanzeon (Deity of Mercy) Temple, seeing Seta no Nagahashi Brigde in the side. Here is the place Murasaki Shikibu wrote her essays, viewing a beautiful moon at night. 41. When I ask something to pine trees in Awazu, they answer with the sound of wind. I wonder in which muddy field Asahi Shogun (the great general) Yoshinaka fell. 42. There is snow on the top of Mt. Hira, so, flowers are covered with it. There are a lot of sailboats hurryingly heading for Yabase, so, the sea is crowded with them. 43. Wild geese are flying down to Katata and the bell of Mii-dera Temple is resounded. Twilight tinted the sky in Karasaki and the rain was dropping on pine trees. 44. You can enjoy smelling hundreds-year-old cherry blossoms in the countryside of Shiga. Long time has passed since the capital was relocated to another place, but still, you can enjoy nice scenery of Mt. Osaka.

Tanka (thirty-one syllabled verse)
It is said that when Nanpo OTA visited Lake Biwa, he was offered that if he could make a tanka containing all eight views of Omihakkei into thirty-one words, he could get a basket free of charge from an owner of a basket shop, then, he made it.

Nosetakara sakiwaawazuka tadanokago (it became just a basket, because putting something on it ruins its function).

Hira Ishiyama ya haserashitemi (hey, Hira Ishiyama, can you run the train?)

Gardens incorporating a part of Omihakkei.

[Original Japanese]