We got up early today because we wanted to catch the first boat from Hikone harbor to Chikubu island at 9:30. It was a much longer (and colder) walk from our hotel as we initially estimated, so it’s lucky that we left the hotel at 8:30 due to my compulsion to always leave way on time, just in case something goes wrong. A little before departure we arrived at the dock area and bought tickets for the boat trip. There were only 3 other people crazy enough to take a boat on this cold Monday morning, so the familiar long line of patient Japanese was lacking. Yay!
We spent most of the 40 minute boat-ride to the island on the boat’s deck, struggling to stay vertical because the extremely strong winds seemed to have one purpose, to blow us over. The beautiful mountain scenery, the movements of a boat speeding through the water, the wind on my face and in my hair (which created a tangled mess, which was very painful to comb afterwards) and the fresh air in my nose, made me feel alive and free.
When we arrived on the island we were two of only five tourists on the entire island, which made it feel wonderfully remote. Although the island is small (0.14 km²), it is high (197 m) and we had hundreds of steps to climb to explore the temples (including one of Japan’s national treasures) and shrines. The higher we went, the more breathtaking our view of Biwa Lake. We only had 70 minutes until our boat returned to Hikone, but that was more than enough time to leisurely check out all the island’s sights and relax a while on top of the mountain to enjoy the view.
On the way back from the island, curiously the wind on deck seemed to be non-existent, even though I was prepared for it now having tied my hair back this time. It was still a nice outside, but my tired/lazy boyfriend got cold lying down on one of the deck benches so we went back inside where he could take a proper and warm nap.
I hope he rested enough (maybe getting up early two mornings in a row is just too much for his system) because next on the menu is hike up the mountain to check out one of Japan’s most treasured castles, Hikone Castle.