Held on Oct. 11-12, 2008, this is another major float festival in Shiga where they display and pull ornate floats along the city streets. I went to see both the festival eve called Yoimiya when they display the floats on the streets at night. The floats are lit up with lanterns and musicians also play.
On the next day, they had the procession through central Otsu.
Unique features of the festival:
The floats have three wheels (like a tricycle) instead of four wheels.
Mechanical karakuri dolls on the floats perform.
They throw chimaki good luck charms from the floats.
I went to the ゆるキャラ festival yesterday on Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road (Google Map). I’m not a fan of mascot characters, but I wanted to see the spectacle of so many people gathered to see over 40 mascots walking around. It was a very successful event. I’m sure Hikone will want to hold this festival every year.
The Castle Road was a great place for the mascot festival. It’s a nice wide road with wide sidewalks. There are shops and places to eat. If you have children, it’s a great event for them. You could take pictures together with the soft and furry mascots. Unfortunately, and strangely, Hiko-nyan did not walk around for us to photograph. It only appeared on stage.
By far, the most popular mascot was Sento-kun (see photo) for Nara’s 1300th anniversary. He is a young boy priest with deer antlers on his head. He was a controversial mascot since people thought the antlers on his head was insulting to Buddhist priests. Well, this controversy has ironically made this mascot the most popular and famous. Look at the first photo of the huge crowd watching Sento-kun on stage. Crazy!
I wonder how those people inside the mascot costume can see outside. I guess they cannot see outside, but many of them look like they can see outside somehow. And how can they breathe while inside?? It must be so hot to be inside it.
All I can say is, the Japanese love nyan-ko cats. Lot of cat mascots around. With the success of Hiko-nyan, I think all of Shiga’s cities and towns should create their own mascot.
P.S. Spo-rec’s Caffy made his last public appearance there. I asked if they will continue to use Caffy, but they said no.
Maibara Basho tent. Click on image to see more photos.
On Oct. 17, 2008, an exhibition sumo tournament was held in Maibara’s Green Park Santo. It was called Ozumo Maibara Basho 大相撲米原場所. It was held from 8 am to 3:30 pm and included many interesting activities besides sumo wrestling.
Unfortunately, Yokozuna Asashoryu was absent due to injury and recuperation in Mongolia. But all the other sumo stars were there: Ozeki Kotomitsuki/Kaio/Chiyotaikai/Kotooshu, popular Takamisakari, Kisenosato (photo), Baruto, etc. It was quite enjoyable because we could get autographs from the sumotori and take pictures with them. However, Takamisakari refused to sign autographs. He avoided the crowd by running past us. I guess he’s tired of being mobbed by fans. Yokozuna Hakuho signed autographs. He looked very good.
The cheapest seat was 4,000 yen, and most of the spectators were elderly. I did see many women as well. Some local kids also came and wrestled with the sumotori. It was great to see sumotori with Mt. Ibuki in the background.
Jamie and Megan Thompson sang “Lake Biwa Rowing Song” (Biwako Shuko no Uta) at Spo-Rec Shiga on Oct. 18, 2008 at Kibogaoka Park in Yasu, Shiga Prefecture. The performance was part of the side entertainment on the opening day of the sports festival. The MC was Chiho Ono, radio personality at e-radio (FM Shiga) which organized this stage entertainment.
Afterward, I went to see the Sports Recreation event at Kibogaoka Park in Yasu. They had the opening ceremony. Many people were there from all 47 prefectures and South Korea too.
It’s a great event and Kibogaoka Park is a perfect place. Many food booths, health/sports booths, stage entertainment, and Caffee. There are new sports which you can try out too. Lots of things for the kids. I highly recommend visiting Kibogaoka Park during Oct. 19-21.
On Oct. 11, 2008, I went to see the pro debut game of the Shiga LakeStars pro basketball team in Otsu’s Shiga Prefectural Gymnasium (滋賀県立体育館). As you may know, the LakeStars is Shiga’s first professional sports team.
I enjoyed the game, and the fans were cheering loudly. But unfortunately, the LakeStars lost the game to Osaka by only 3 points, 78-81. They played Osaka again the next day, and lost again 73-89. Osaka is actually the strongest team in the bj league. They were the champions for four years in a row, since the start of the bj league.
I’m not a real basketball fan, but I plan to attend a LakeStars game whenever I can. I’m also very interested in the LakeStars because one of the players is from the University of Hawaii (my alma mater). He is Bobby Nash (No. 33). He’s a good player, and his father is the basketball coach at the University of Hawaii (UH). His father Bob Nash was a very famous basketball player for UH during 1970-1972. We called his team the “Fabulous Five.” http://archives.starbulletin.com/1999/10/26/news/story8.html
We should all support the LakeStars by attending their games. See their game schedule at their official Web site: http://www.lakestars.net/
The Sports Recreation event will be held in Shiga during Oct. 18-21, 2008. On the first day Oct. 18 at Kibogaoka Park in Yasu, there will be some entertainment on a side stage called スポレク「夢」ステージ near the Nishi-guchi west gate during 9:30 am to 11:15 am.
During this entertainment time, we will appear and sing “Lake Biwa Rowing Song”(Biwako Shuko no Uta in English) on this outdoor Yume stage at around 10:20 am. Jamie and Megan Thompson will sing the song. If you have time, please come down to see us.
On the same day, the Spo-rec opening ceremony will start on the center stage at 12:30 pm. From JR Yasu Station, there will be free shuttle buses going to the park every 10-15 min. Note that if the weather is bad, the show will be canceled. Light rain will be no problem though.