On Aug. 8, 2007, I went rowing on Biwako (琵琶湖周航) with the Imazu Jr. High School Rowing Club from Nagahama to Imazu. It was a very hot and sunny day with little wind. Almost 50 club members and three teachers went on this rowing trip.
I was allowed to join them. Every Aug., they row from Imazu to Nagahama, stopover in Nagahama, and row back to Imazu. This year, they couldn’t row from Imazu to Nagahama due to high waves. So on Aug. 7, they took a bus to Nagahama and stayed overnight.
They used six rowing boats including two fixed-seat boats (フィックス艇) made of wood. These two fixed-seat boats are replicas of the same type of rowing boat used by Oguchi Taro when he wrote the song “Biwako Shuko no Uta” 90 years ago. I really wanted to try rowing on this boat on Biwako to see what it was like. 小口太郎の気分になりたかった。
This fixed-seat boat has long been obsolete so it is quite rare to be able to row on one. Competitive rowing boats today all have sliding seats which make it easier to row. So fixed-seat boats have fixed seats which don’t move. And compared to modern rowing boats which are very narrow and light (made of fiberglass, etc.), fixed-seat boats are wider and heavier (wood), making it harder to row and slower.
But it was fun rowing with the jr. high students (more girls than boys). The fixed-seat boat looks very sleek and beautiful cuttting through the waters of Lake Biwa. I really like the design. It was like rowing on a classic piece of art.
The two replica boats were donated to Imazu where they are stored in a large boathouse. The first one is named “Chiaki/Taro” and the second is called “Yodo.”
Video link: http://youtu.be/r5DtrrH4oi4
See more photos here: