New Nagahama Station opens

The new JR Nagahama Station opened its doors on Oct. 14, 2006. The new station building has a retro look based on the very first Nagahama Station building which is now preserved as a nearby museum called Nagahama Railroad Square.

This month, the JR Hokuriku Main Line switched to direct-current electrification between Nagahama Station and Tsuruga Station (Fukui), enabling faster shin-kaisoku trains to reach Shiga’s Hokuriku Line train stations (Torahime, Kawake, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, Omi-Shiotsu Stations) directly from Kyoto. Before the switch, passengers had to transfer trains at Nagahama Station to go beyond Nagahama.

Besides Nagahama Station, most of the other Hokuriku Line train stations in Shiga also rebuilt their train station buildings, anticipating an increase of visitors.

Lake Biwa’s private beaches

This past summer, I rented a bicycle at Omi-Maiko and went cycling along the beach toward Hira Station. There was a nice bicycle path most of the way, and some parts were like a private area for summer homes.

I often saw a sign on the beach saying 「私有地」which means “Private Property, Keep Out.” It was very disappointing to see such signs. I can still enter the beach with no problem, but of course we cannot swim or have a BBQ there. It is very unfortunate that Lake Biwa beaches can be privately owned. All the beaches should be made public property.

In Hawaii, there is a law which forbids private ownership of beaches in Hawaii. All the beaches are therefore public property, owned by the government of Hawaii. Anyone can go on any beach with no problem. Even if there is a hotel or house in front of the beach, anyone can still access and go to the beach. This is one of Hawaii’s best laws.

Hikone Castle at 2007 Sapporo Snow Festival

Looks like Hikone Castle will be one of the major snow sculptures at next year’s Sapporo Snow Festival in Feb. It will be the 400th anniversary of the castle, and Hikone is holding various events next year. I’m sure they are extremely happy that the castle will be built at the snow festival. It’s very good PR.

I’ve been to the snow festival once, and I have to call it one of Japan’s Top Five Festivals. It’s truly awesome. And also very international with many groups from overseas carving smaller snow sculptures.

The only problem is that it is impossible to get a cheap hotel room during the festival. It might be best to stay at a hotel in a nearby city or onsen instead.

Taga-cho’s awful English Web pages

I’m checking all the official Web sites for all of Shiga’s cities and towns. A few towns have English pages. 

Taga-cho has English pages, but unfortunately, they used automated (software) translation. The English is very bad, the worst in Shiga. 

However, the Board of Education has a separate page with the title: 

It is a good idea for a project, and they have English descriptions of sightseeing spots in Taga-cho. The English is not bad. Probably one of their ALTs helped with the English. 

They need to make English links though, and coordinate or integrate with the bad-English page. 

Most towns are unable to create English pages. I think Shiga’s Biwako Visitors Bureau should help them with that.

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