Ōmi Merchants Tour
Learn about the daily life of the merchants who established the huge trading companies of modern Japan.
Shinmachi in Ōmihachiman is lined with the residences of wealthy merchants, who sold products from Ōmi such as tatami mats and mosquito nets in Edo and Ōsaka, and brought back luxury products from the metropolis to sell in Ōmi. These homes and business premises are now museums, displaying artefacts including the tools of the traveling merchant’s trade, children’s toys used for raising the next generation of merchants, and the luxurious goods that the merchants came to own. Your taxi will then take you along the picturesque old Nakasendō road that the merchants used on their travels.
Aishō was another centre where the merchants emerged and at the Yutaka Merchant History and Folk Museum and the Itō Chūbē Museum, both beautiful buildings beside the Nakasendō, you can learn about the different business segments two major families pursued and wonder at the antiques they collected.
Lunch is at Ōmi Shōnin-tei. This restaurant was once the villa of a wealthy merchant who specialised in mosquito nets. You can enjoy the atmosphere of refinement and calm that the merchants of Ōmi cultivated in every aspect of their lives.