It’s summer again and before people flock to the beaches, Shiga Prefecture in May conducted water-quality tests at nine of Shiga’s most popular swimming beaches. Based on the water-quality test results, the beaches were ranked “AA,” “A,” or “B.”
Receiving the highest “AA” rating were Omi-Maiko (Otsu), Miyagahama (Omi-Hachiman), and Nihonmatsu (Nishi-Azai).
The second-highest “A” rating was given to Matsunoura (Otsu), Matsubara (Hikone), Minamihama (Nagahama), and Makino Sunny Beach (Takashima).
Earning a “B” rating were Nagisato (Moriyama) and Shingaihama (Hikone). A “B” rating is still safe enough for swimming.
The water-quality tests measured water transparency, oil film, and E. coli bacteria count. Last year, eight of the nine beaches received an “AA” rating, but only three beaches this year were rated that high. Note that the results of the tests can differ depending on the weather of the day when the tests are conducted.
At any rate, Shiga’s beaches are safe to swim in. Enjoy!
Although the swine flu scare/panic has largely passed, be aware the bug is still out there. On July 13, 2009, ten new cases of H1N1 patients were confirmed, increasing Shiga’s total to 40 people infected.
Eight students attending Higashi Otsu High School were found to be infected, along with a Ryukoku Univ. student, who was a graduate of Higashi Otsu High, and his junior high school brother. The college student had attended a school festival at his old high school on July 8.
Be aware that from July 1, 2009, it is illegal to use a mobile phone while riding a bicycle. Using a cell phone while driving is already illegal, but now it is also illegal while riding a bicycle.
According to the police, there were eighteen bicycling accidents in Shiga caused by the rider using a mobile phone while cycling. Four of the accidents resulted in serious injuries. The police has concluded that when you use a mobile phone (keitai or K-tai) with one hand while riding a bicycle, you cannot focus your attention on the road and you are more prone to lose your balance and crash.
You cannot talk on the phone, write/read email, nor watch videos on your mobile phone while riding a bicycle. So, just do not hold your mobile phone in one hand while riding a bicycle. If you get caught, you may be fined no more than 50,000 yen.
If you need to use your phone, just stop riding your bicycle. Problem solved.
The Otsu City Council passed a bill on March 18, 2009 to ban smoking in and around all major train stations in Otsu. The smoking ban will take effect from July 2009. The Japanese word for “No smoking” is kin’en (kanji written above).
Smokers beware–do not smoke in and around the following train stations:
JR stations: Otsu, Zeze, Ishiyama, Seta, and Otsukyo
Keihan Line: Sakamoto, Miidera, Ojiyama, Hama-Otsu, and Ishiyamadera.
The worse thing is to smoke while walking. Because people walking behind and beside you will get your breaths of poison as well. So don’t do it.
Also, smoking will be totally banned inside the Shiga Prefectural Office (Kencho) from April 2009. The smoker’s rooms on each floor will be removed and smokers will have to go outside the building to smoke.
Now let’s hope all the other cities and towns in Shiga will follow suit and ban smoking at train stations and government facilities.
On June 30, 2009, the 2008 incomes and assets of National Diet members, prefectural governors, and prefectural assembly members were made public as required by law. In 2008, Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko earned 17.27 million yen. This included her 15.06 million yen annual salary as governor and the rest was earned from royalties, speaking fees, writing fees, etc.
On the other hand, Otsu Mayor Mekata Makoto earned 18.73 million yen which included his 15.59 million yen salary as mayor. Other mayors of major cities in Shiga earned around 10 to 11 million yen. Shiga prefectural assembly members earned an average of 13.81 million yen which includes income from outside sources besides their salaries.
Since 2007, Governor Kada volunteered to give herself a 20% cut in her monthly salary which may explain why her salary is lower than Mekata’s.
National Diet members representing Shiga also made as much as 28.84 million yen (Okumura Tenzo from Koka).
Note that incomes 10 million yen or more in Japan are subject to a large chunk going to the tax man. (I speak from experience.)