Archive for October 2006

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.

Azuchi’s English Web site

I think Azuchi-cho is the town with the best official English pages in Shiga. 

It’s not complete yet, but their introduction of sightseeing places is good. The English is good, the page design is attractive, and they also include the kanji characters and furigana for the temple names, etc. 

I like Azuchi-cho. Many sights to see there, besides Azuchi Castle ruins. Lots of water and canals. The Nobunaga Matsuri in spring was also enjoyable. For a local town festival, it was a grand event with a daimyo gyoretsu, matchlock gun firing, and boat rides in the moat.

Shiga Kenjinkai 滋賀県人会

I found out that there is a Shiga Kenjinkai in Tokyo and other places. So today, I called the Kenjinkai office in Tokyo and asked about the organization.

The secretary was new so she could not answer many of my questions. She told me that they have a Web site, but very simple one and she didn’t know the URL! (I could not find any official Web site though.) They hold two meetings (総会) a year and there is also a 世界大会.

I found this news article about the Shiga Kenjinkai in Nagoya.

They even had a meeting in Hawaii! Maybe Hawaii has a Shiga Kenjinkai too. I think Los Angeles has one, and even France. I’ll let you know when I find out more.

If you look at the picture in the article, most members are quite old. I think they need to recruit more young people. They should join mixi and meet us!

They don’t have a BBS for members either. Perhaps most of them do not know how to use the Internet. I plan to visit the Kenjinkai office in Tokyo and try to see if we can join their activities or vice versa. I’m sure they want more young people. And there are so many young people here in mixi who love their hometown of Shiga.

I think the older generation can tell us many stories about Shiga. They should pass on their stories and knowledge to us before they pass away, don’t you think?

At the University of Hawaii (my alma mater), they have a program to record the oral histories of first-generation immigrants to Hawaii. They talk about picture brides, sugar plantation life, etc. Influenced by this program, I later interviewed both of my grandmothers in Shiga (while they were still 元気) and videotaped it. I asked them about their parents (my great grandparents), their siblings, their school, wartime years, marriage, birth of my father and mother, etc.

It was very interesting. One grandmother already died, and my other grandmother is at a rojin home and in no condition to talk about her life. So I’m really glad that I got their stories while they were still healthy.

Ritto shinkansen station debate

A hot debate still continues over the shinkansen train station in Ritto. It is the hottest topic in the Shiga community in mixi, still continuing for almost a year. There seems to be many more people opposed to the shinkansen station than supporting it. 

The Shiga government did not allow Shiga citizens to vote yes or no, probably because they were afraid that they would lose. Well, the gubernatorial election in July proved that most people are opposed to it. But there are still people pushing for the station. The construction industry is very powerful in Japan. But I hope people power will be more powerful. 

Here’s a good summary in English about this debate: