Things to know before visiting Shiga Prefecture

1. Shiga Prefecture is easy to find on a map of Japan. Just look for the large blue lake near the center of Honshu island. It is next to Kyoto. From Tokyo, Shiga is on the way to Kyoto.

2. Shiga Prefecture’s claim to fame is Lake Biwa (Biwako), Japan’s largest lake and water supply for 14 million people in the Kyoto-Osaka area. Lake Biwa is one of the world’s oldest lakes dating back 4 million years, home to over 70 endemic species found nowhere else in the world.

Chikubushima

Chikubushima, home of Goddess Benzaiten (Benten).

3. Shiga’s most famous tourist sights include Enryakuji Temple (World Heritage Site) on Mt. Hiei, Hikone Castle (National Treasure), Chikubushima island in northern Lake Biwa, Shigaraki pottery district, Harie, Koka Ninja House, numerous National Treasure buildings, and traditional townscapes.

hikone castle

Hikone Castle in spring.

4. Shiga’s most compact and convenient tourist cities are Otsu, Kusatsu, Omi-Hachiman, Hikone, and Nagahama. These cities have multiple tourist sights within a compact area. They also usually have English-speaking staff at the tourist information desk in the train station. Larger cities like Higashi-Omi, Koka, and Takashima have tourist sights spread out over a wide area which may require more time to visit.

5. When traveling by shinkansen high-speed train, Kyoto Station and Maibara Station are the most convenient for Shiga. Kyoto Station is near southern and western Shiga (Otsu, Kusatsu, and Takashima), while Maibara Station is convenient for visiting northern or eastern Shiga (Hikone, Nagahama, Maibara, Omi-Hachiman, Higashi-Omi). Both Kyoto and Maibara Stations have local train lines that go to other areas of Shiga.

Lake Biwa

Northern Lake Biwa

Southern Lake Biwa

Southern Lake Biwa

6. The eastern and southern sides of the lake are the most populated and developed, so the JR Biwako/Tokaido Line runs through here frequently. In contrast, the west side and northern side of the lake are more rural and the JR Kosei Line runs less frequently. Shiga is well connected to Kyoto/Osaka through local train lines.

Shirahige

Cycling past Shirahige Shrine in Takashima.

7. Most train stations in Shiga have rental bicycles. You can rent a bicycle at one train station and return it at another station. High-end bicycles for long-distance cycling can be rented at Maibara Station. Bicycling around the lake (called “Biwa-ichi”) takes two (via Biwako Ohashi Bridge) or three days.

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

8. Shiga’s major festivals (matsuri) include Sagicho Matsuri in Omi-Hachiman in mid-March, Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri in mid-April, Sanno Matsuri in Otsu in mid-April, Otsu Matsuri in Oct., and Hikone Castle Festival Parade in Nov. Detailed festival schedule here.

kaizu

Kaizu Osaki in April.

9. Shiga’s most beautiful cherry blossoms in April are at Hikone Castle, Nagahama Castle, and Kaizu-Osaki northern lakeshore. More about Shiga’s cherry blossoms here.

Genkyuen Garden

Genkyuen Garden and Hikone Castle in fall.

10. Shiga’s famous spots for autumn leaves in Nov. are the Koto Sanzan Temples (Saimyoji, Kongorinji, and Hyakusaiji) and Eigenji Temple in eastern Shiga. At Genkyuen Garden next to Hikone Castle, the autumn leaves are lit up in the evenings, creating beautiful reflections on the pond.

funazushi

Funazushi is like cheesy fish.

11. Shiga delicacies include fermented fish called funazushi made with endemic lake carp called nigorobuna, locally-grown wagyu beef called Omi-gyu, red devil’s tongue (aka-konnyaku), Omi tea, and Club Harie Baumkuchen cake.

Shigaraki tanuki statues

Shigaraki tanuki statues

12. Shiga’s famous souvenirs include Shigaraki pottery (especially tanuki racoon dog statues), Lake Biwa freshwater pearls, Omi sensu folding fans, Otsu-e paintings/prints, Hiko-nyan dolls, and Shiga die-cut postcards sold only at post offices in Shiga.

13. It is possible to go completely around Lake Biwa by train, but it is not a continuous, looping train ride. You will have to transfer trains at least twice, usually at Yamashina Station in Kyoto and Omi-Shiotsu Station in Nagahama. But it’s not a tourist thing to go completely around Lake Biwa by train. Only the JR Kosei Line along the west side of the lake gives nice views of the lake.

14. “Omi” (also spelled “Ohmi”) is one word you may often see in Shiga. It was the former name of Shiga before Japan’s modern era and still synonymous with “Shiga.” It is also used as a prefix in place names or train station names such as “Omi-Hachiman” to distinguish it from other places named “Hachiman.”

“Heiwado” is another word you may often see as Shiga’s most ubiquitous and beloved corporate brand. It is a supermarket and local department store chain near major train stations. Great place to buy local food and souvenirs.

15. Staying at a hotel in Shiga (especially in Otsu) would be viable even for visiting Kyoto. Finding a hotel room in Shiga may be easier (like the capsule hotel in Otsu Station). Otsu is a short train ride to Kyoto (JR line or Keihan Line).

16. Shiga Prefecture is not be confused with the famous Shiga Kogen Highland ski area in Nagano Prefecture, a totally different place.

*To find out more interesting things about Shiga, take the Shiga Image Quiz.

Shiga History May–August 2018

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s major news headlines for May–August 2018 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at GMT).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 280 English characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter). Dates and times below are based on GMT, not Japan time.

Lake Biwa Rowing Song CD single by ~Lefa~

2018-05-02 20:04:00 Excellent cheese cake at Cafe & Bar Tonarimachi Parlor (#隣町パーラー) next to JR Maibara Station (West exit). Also great for breakfast or a nightcap for guests staying at Toyoko Inn next door. Nice interior design with lots of wood. 
2018-05-09 00:16:03 On May 7, 2018, a 1st grade girl in Minakuchi, Koka playing in a roadside gutter apparently got caught in the gushing rainwater and sadly died tens of meters downstream.
2018-05-09 00:16:14 Bicycle sharing has come to Otsu on April 27 via OFO JAPAN + Machizukuri Otsu. 400 yellow bicycles can be rented & dropped off at 66 locations in Otsu. Download the app to locate & unlock the bicycle & pay only ¥100 per 30 min. or ¥500 per day. https://t.co/tsA5dXEjsb
2018-05-09 00:16:36 Omi-cha tea plants in Koka are suffering from severe cold and dryness this season (寒干害) causing some leaves to wither into a red color. Tea farmers fear that this year’s harvest will be lower than usual. (Photo taken in late March in Tsuchiyama.) 
2018-05-11 17:29:53 ~Lefa~ ニューCDシングル「琵琶湖周航の歌」が英語版Lake Biwa Rowing Songも6番まで収録されました。本日より琵琶湖周航の歌資料館等で販売中。Nagahama-based duo ~Lefa~ has released a new CD single that includes Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English (6 verses). https://t.co/SHDCi28a7L https://t.co/RX3ccdJWgx
2018-05-14 20:13:04 See Lake Biwa at night from the International Space Station. https://t.co/Y8lMkNpQEZ
2018-05-19 16:07:19 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch in Otsu: Yoshibue reed flute player Kondo Yumiko started off a series of mini-concerts inside the supermarket at noon. #近藤ゆみ子 #ヨシ笛 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:07:46 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch in Otsu: Taisho-goto mini-concert by Shiki-no-Kai. #四季の会 #大正琴 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:08:21 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch in Otsu: Yoshibue reed flute player Kondo Yumiko. #近藤ゆみ子 #ヨシ笛 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:08:45 Wha?? A violin player playing in the middle of a supermarket?? Yes, at Heiwado Wani Branch for the 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19. #沖本みなみ #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:09:31 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch: Talented violin player (since age 4) Okimoto Minami played classic pieces effortlessly. #沖本みなみ #ヴァイオリン #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:15:04 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch in Otsu: Outside the west entrance, rock band members from high schools in Otsu and Kusatsu performed. #堅田高校 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 https://t.co/wfyjZxZrPg
2018-05-19 16:18:02 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch: Kada Yukiko sings to reed flutes played by Kondo Yumiko and the duo Hot Line. #近藤ゆみ子 #ヨシ笛 #ほっとらいん#第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-19 16:22:05 2nd Biwako Music Festival pre-event on May 19 at Heiwado Wani Branch: Led by Kada Yukiko and Kitagawa Akihiro, pre-event finale was singing Biwako Shuko no Uta with all the high school students. #北川陽大 #嘉田由紀子 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭https://t.co/do0g0GvV7C
2018-05-20 14:04:17 @Bajir No, there’s no violin version of the Heiwado song, but it was playing in the background, along with announcements to get a HOP card. https://t.co/S1RMwxKvPn
2018-05-21 03:10:19 Perfect weather for the sunrise kayak tour held by BSC Watersports Center in Otsu on May 20 as a pre-event of the 2nd Biwako Music Festival. Photo by BSC. #第2回びわ湖音楽祭https://t.co/3XEiop709I
2018-05-21 03:11:33 Kicking off the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center was a series of lobby concerts during 12:15 pm–1:30 pm. Violinist Okimoto Minami performed first for a standing room-only crowd. #沖本みなみ #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-21 03:12:29 Stones Sax Quartet performed at the lobby mini-concert of the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center. Four different types of sax together. Fantastic! #ストーンズサックスカルテット #陣内亜紀子 #本田千鈴 #亀井友恵 #西川静 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-21 03:13:01 Percussion trio named Schlegel performed on drums and marimba. Mesmerizing!

#シュレーゲル #中谷満 #竹内唯 #中井萌 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 

2018-05-21 15:07:58 First half of the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center started at 2 pm with the Shiga Junior High School band from Otsu. #志賀中学校吹奏楽部 #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-21 15:10:37 At the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center, the Konan Dance Workshop had a large group of dancers with an intellectual disability give a truly moving performance. Utterly wonderful. #湖南ダンスワークショップ #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-21 15:38:21 Finale at the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center. Many of the high school performers had to leave early to study for a test the next day. #第2回びわ湖音楽祭 
2018-05-21 15:40:37 At the 2nd Biwako Music Festival on May 20, 2018 at Otsu City Wani Culture Center, Nagahama-based duo #〜Lefa〜 performed Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English with Okimoto Minami on violin. #沖本みなみ #第2回びわ湖音楽祭https://t.co/lKVl4sExSi
2018-05-21 15:43:39 Nagahama-based duo #〜Lefa〜 and violinist Okimoto Minami #沖本みなみ pose with their new CD single featuring both Biwako Shuko no Uta (in Japanese) and Lake Biwa Rowing Song (in English). 
2018-05-22 10:38:12 第2回びわ湖音楽祭の新聞記事:

毎日新聞 https://t.co/ecGhPmgT2x

産経新聞 https://t.co/2zBnWHySNY

2018-05-24 06:45:20 この4月~5月のShigaHeadlinesの人気ツイートの統計を見ると、初めて5桁のインプレッション(アクセス数)が達成しました!多数のリツイートや「いいね」ありがとう!さすが加藤登紀子さんのファン!~Lefa~も超人気!

My most popular tweet (about Kato Tokiko) in April–May got 12,723 impressions so far! 

2018-05-24 13:58:38 @tfa520 親切なコメントありがとうございます!おまけの写真を添付します。先日の第2回びわ湖音楽祭の〜Lefa〜サイン会の長蛇の列。熱心なファンばかり。今後の応援もよろしくお願いします。https://t.co/4jErtN0ZOT
2018-05-25 09:04:55 報道されていないことをここで述べます。#~Lefa~ 
2018-05-28 14:21:21 Hikone Higashi High School’s student team won the American Mathematical Society’s First Award of $2,000 for “Extension of Soddy’s Hexlet: Number of Spheres Generated by Nested Hexlets” as a Special Award at Intel ISEF 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA on May 13–18. https://t.co/E1ogHFsAB2
2018-05-28 14:21:39 Food poisoning caused diarrhea and fever in 52 elderly people (age 75–100) at a nursing home (青祥会) & elderly health care facility in Nagahama on May 23, 2018. C. perfringens was found in the food prepared by Meal Service Taniguchi (ミールサービスたにぐち加田店). Nothing fatal.
2018-05-28 14:25:41 Crown Prince Naruhito & Princess Masako visited northern Shiga on May 25–26 to attend a greenery event (みどりの愛護) at Nagahama Dome. They also visited a facility for disabled kids in Maibara (ふくしあ), Yanmar Museum, & Hikone Castle Museum.
2018-05-28 14:26:08 In Fukui city, Fukui Prefecture, the track and field stadium (福井県営陸上競技場) where Hikone-native KIRYU Yoshihide became the first Japanese to run 100 meters in less than 10 sec. at 9.98 sec. in Sept. 2017 has been renamed “9.98 STADIUM” as a nickname. #桐生祥秀
2018-05-28 14:27:11 Tickets on sale for the Otsu Basho sumo exhibition tournament on July 30 at Ukaruchan Arena (Shiga Prefectural Gymnasium) in Otsu. Let’s hope Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi will be allowed to stand on the sumo ring for her speech. Ticket Pia P code 839-032, Lawson L code 5414 #大津場所 https://t.co/fRhxfCW0Ed
2018-05-30 14:27:45 Costing ¥3 billion, the new Uminoko Biwako Floating School ship’s major improvements include 4 decks (plus basement), electric propulsion, & wireless LAN. Now at Otsu Port awaiting its maiden voyage with 5th graders on June 4, 2018. #びわ湖フローティングスクール #うみのこ 
2018-06-04 11:15:06 Hikone Castle is repairing plaster walls on 2 sides. The side facing the lake was damaged by Typhoon No. 21 last Oct. The other side is having old plaster replaced. Plaster is applied in multiple layers, each layer has to dry before the next layer is applied. To be done by Nov. 
2018-06-13 12:13:12 A friend found this large red-eared slider on a busy road in Otsu & rescued it. I told him it was an invasive species & it shouldn’t be returned to the lake. After inquiring Lake Biwa Museum, etc., he found out that Shiga has no system to collect and dispose of these creatures. 
2018-06-13 12:15:19 先日に友人が大津の湖岸道路にあったこのアカミミガメを救助して持ち帰りました。外来種だを指摘すると処分方法を調べた。なんと、国が「緊急対策外来種」と指定されているにもかかわらず、滋賀は外来魚と同じようにアカミミガメの回収・処分が行っていません。琵琶湖博物館も処分方法を教えてくれない https://t.co/N1GzPVs8bI
2018-06-16 06:54:13 In Moriyama last Dec., a staff member at the Senior Center Tiffany nursing home シニアセンターティファニー was reported to have verbally abused (「クソじじい」) & barricaded a male patient. The home’s Yasu-based operator Shoeikai’s (翔英会) was ordered to implement reforms.
2018-06-16 06:54:33 On June 9, 18 adults suffered from food poisoning after dining at Anosorano-higashi restaurant アノソラノヒガシ in Kusatsu. Their symptoms of diarrhea and fever were not serious. The restaurant’s operation was suspended for 3 days.
2018-06-16 06:55:38 At Maibara City Hall, former civic dept. head Iwayama Koichi (60) 岩山光一 was arrested for the 4th time on June 11 for accepting bribes & bid rigging for electrical work contracts in 2016 for childcare centers in Maibara. The Hikone-based contractor was also arrested.#官製談合
2018-06-16 06:56:13 On June 11, the election commission in Koka sent 6 polling place admission tickets for the Shiga gubernatorial election by mistake to people ineligible to vote in Koka since they had moved out of the city. Officials are retrieving the errant tickets. #甲賀市投票所入場券6枚誤発送
2018-06-16 06:58:33 Age 14 female student attending a public jr high school in Ritto was arrested on June 12 for assaulting an age 30 woman teacher by grabbing her chest on May 25 after being scolded for using a prohibited elevator. No injuries. The student is denying the charges filed.
2018-06-16 06:59:06 Private Lodging Business Law (minpaku law) taking effect on June 15, 2018 requires private lodge operators to register with the local government & comply with regulations. As of June 14, 12 private lodges have been registered in Shiga. Certified lodges display this sign. #airbnb 
2018-06-16 07:00:11 A pleasant lunch in Konan the other day! Indian Chicken Curry flavored with yahei hot chili peppers at Upper Secret cafe near Kosei Station. Great for coffee or tea too. Akane-san, the friendly manager, once studied in Oklahoma and speaks English. #湖南市
2018-06-18 00:18:23 A strong earthquake has hit northern Osaka today at 7:58 am, magnitiude Lower 6. Also felt in Shiga with lower 5 in Otsu and M3 or M4 in northern Shiga. Train services in Shiga and Kansai have been suspended. https://t.co/YQaYSVC4hq https://t.co/RL9rvEUcnf
2018-06-18 04:02:07 No major earthquake damage in Shiga. No fatalities, only two minor injuries reported (both in Kusatsu). JR local lines stopped, but Shinkansen, Ohmi Railways, Keihan trains in Otsu, & Shigaraki Kogen Railway now running again. Shiga Jr. High suspended classes today. 志賀中学校
2018-06-18 08:13:42 In Shiga, the JR Biwako/Tokaido Line, Kosei Line, Kusatsu Line, and Hokuriku Line currently suspended should start running from around 7:00 pm at the earliest. https://t.co/Q9oRi30kOt
2018-06-18 14:17:15 All JR lines (Biwako/Tokaido, Hokuriku, Kusatsu, and Kosei Lines) in Shiga are now running, but on a delayed schedule. Kyoto–Nara Line is still suspended. https://t.co/Q9oRi30kOt
2018-06-19 06:36:40 Yesterday on June 18 when the Osaka earthquake occurred at 7:58 am, people on trains were stuck inside for 2 to 3 hours before they were let out only to walk to the nearest train station. Whenever you travel in Japan, always be prepared & carry water, snacks & wear walking shoes.
2018-06-19 16:00:10 Native of Omi-Hachiman and Yasu High School graduate, Takashi Inui #乾貴士 helped Japan (ranked 61st) win its first FIFA World Cup soccer game against Colombia (ranked 16th) 2-1 today. The first time an Asian team has beaten a S. American team (CONMEBOL). https://t.co/kwZGzp6F80 https://t.co/O8hZkyrsNn
2018-06-20 16:44:04 For students: FM Shiga is offering a free Lake Biwa tour by boat & bus on July 16 from Otsu Port at 8:50 am. They will visit Okinoshima island, Lake Nishinoko, and return to Otsu by bus by 5 pm. Tour guide Chiho-san speaks English. Apply online by July 4: https://t.co/hs6GQsc4Ps 
2018-06-24 23:00:25 Yesterday, Shiga Governor Taizo Mikazuki won reelection as governor for another 4 years. He defeated his sole opponent Kondo Manabu 近藤学, former vice-president of Shiga University. Voter turnout was the second lowest in Shiga’s history at 40.62%.
2018-06-24 23:01:08 Omi-Hachiman-native Inui Takashi once again played a key role for Japan at FIFA World Cup soccer on June 24, 2018. He scored Japan’s 1st goal against Senegal. He almost scored again when the ball hit the crossbar. The match ended in a draw at 2-2. 
2018-06-27 10:45:50 ~Lefa~ CDシングル「琵琶湖周航の歌」取り扱い店舗:

琵琶湖周航の歌 資料館

SUNMUSIC長浜店

HYPERBOOKS長浜店

HYPERBOOKS彦根店

SUNMUSIC近江八幡店

HYPERBOOKS八日市店

HYPERBOOKS水口店

SUNMUSIC守山店

HYPERBOOKS駒井沢店(草津市)

https://t.co/meMikNl2r7

2018-06-29 01:27:48 Kiryu Nozomi (32,桐生のぞみ), a nurse, indicted on June 26 for abandoning the corpse of her mother Shinobu (58) by cutting up the body in her bathtub & dumping the torso along a river near her home in Moriyama by March 2018. She disposed the other body parts with regular garbage.
2018-06-29 01:28:18 The national tragedy of the 9-year-old girl who got fatally crushed by a collapsed concrete brick wall during the Osaka earthquake prompted inspections of similar walls at all public schools in Shiga. Faulty walls were found at 16 schools. Some of these walls are being roped off.
2018-06-29 01:30:05 At the FIFA World Cup soccer match against Poland last night, Omi-Hachiman-native Takashi Inui was not in the starting lineup. Joined the game only toward the end. Although Japan lost 0-1, they made to the last 16 final tournament on fair play points. https://t.co/s0N0KLBhX5 https://t.co/Z6MBMUD6FB
2018-06-29 13:37:51 June 29 at around 2 pm, a tornado hit Maibara & damaged 85 buildings & injured 6 people in the Asahi, Buma, & Kitagata districts. At least one home lost its roof. Ohara, Santo, & Daito Elementary Schools were damaged, but all students returned home safely. https://t.co/ZAJRKsqSgl
2018-07-02 20:31:03 FIFA World Cup soccer: Heartbreaking defeat for Japan after taking the lead over Belgium 2-0, but Belgium made a stunning comeback with 3 goals. Omi-Hachiman-native Takashi Inui even scored a goal, but it wasn’t enough. Lots of tears, but stand tall Japan! https://t.co/heCJmgcHqF https://t.co/iYUKmTQ9As
2018-07-05 11:08:06 Due to heavy rains, flood warnings and evacuation orders have been issued for areas along Anegawa River in Nagahama (Biwa district) and Amanogawa River in Maibara (Nagaoka district).
2018-07-05 11:09:27 Due to heavy rain, train service has been suspended or delayed on the JR Hokuriku Line between Maibara and Tsuruga and on the JR Kosei Line between Omi-Maiko and Omi-Shiotsu. Check current status here: https://t.co/Q9oRi30kOt
2018-07-06 17:43:11 On July 6, 102 public elementary and jr high schools in Shiga (all schools in Nagahama, Takashima, and Maibara, and some in Otsu) canceled classes due to the heavy rains.
2018-07-06 17:46:55 Rain expected to continue today in Shiga on July 7. Due to possibility of landslides, do not hike in or near the mountains & rivers. JR trains will start on a normal schedule. Ohmi Railways may run on a delayed schedule. Shigaraki Kogen Railway may start running in late morning.
2018-07-07 19:52:31 Heavy rains have claimed one life in Shiga. On July 7, a man (77) in Adogawa, Takashima went out to check rice paddies and he tried to clear debris in an irrigation ditch when he fell into the ditch and drowned.
2018-07-07 19:58:29 Due to possibility of landslides and blocked paths, do not hike in or near the mountains & rivers. JR trains will start on a normal schedule. Ohmi Railways and Shigaraki Kogen Railway also running normally. All evacuation orders/warnings in Shiga have been lifted.
2018-07-09 15:29:47 In Shiga, it rained the most in Kutsuki, Takashima; Minami-Komatsu, Otsu; Imazu, Takashima; & Yogo, Nagahama. Flood damage minimal with only 1 home flooded (in Nagahama) & minor damage of Hikone Castle’s moat wall. Some soybean fields damaged in Takashima, Hikone, & Omi-Hachiman.
2018-07-09 15:30:04 Lake Biwa’s water level rose by 97 cm during July 5th–8th, reaching the overflow level. The Setagawa Weir in Otsu is now fully open to drain the lake water to the river. It will take at least 20 days until the water level goes down to normal levels.
2018-07-09 15:30:12 The rainy season in the Kinki Region (Shiga, Osaka, etc.) ended on July 9. Twelve days earlier than usual, and 4 days earlier than last year. Sunny and hot days are forecast during the coming week. Keep cool!
2018-07-12 16:12:07 Scoring twice at FIFA World Cup soccer, Shiga-native Takashi Inui has become a celebrity in Japan. After playing for Spanish club Eibar for 3 seasons, he has signed to play for La Liga team Real Betis based in Seville for 3 seasons from next month. #乾貴士https://t.co/pmZH6waMpz
2018-07-12 17:48:04 The Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay #聖火リレー is scheduled to start in Fukushima on March 26, 2020 and pass through Shiga Prefecture on May 28–29, 2020. It will arrive from Kyoto and go on to Fukui. The specific route will be decided by summer 2019. https://t.co/l1dMOgATrM https://t.co/JFSCb3pjLs
2018-07-17 20:57:42 The tornado that hit Maibara on June 29 caused about ¥4 million of agricultural damage to greenhouses, storehouses, and fields. Also, heavy rains on July 5th–7th damaged about 150 ha of fields in Shiga, mainly soybeans in Ritto (26 ha), Takashima (19 ha), and Nagahama (16 ha).
2018-07-17 20:58:20 Shiga Prefectural Government has agreed to pay ¥2 million in compensation to a male Shiga Pref. gov’t worker (30s) suffering from clinical depression due to overwork in Jan–Mar 2013 when he averaged 101 hours of overtime each month to cover a co-worker’s sick leave. #過重労働
2018-07-17 20:58:35 Check Shiga’s hazard maps for floods, landslides, earthquakes, and nuclear plant radiation leaks. https://t.co/ZxOu03fRdv
2018-07-17 20:59:05 Hot in Shiga! On July 15, an age 94 woman died of heatstroke while cutting weeds in her backyard field in Maibara, & an age 70 man in Otsu died of heatstroke in his home that had no air conditioning. On July 17, 29 people in Shiga were hospitalized for heat illness. None serious.
2018-07-17 20:59:27 On July 17, three female badminton club members at Ogi Junior High School in Otsu (大津市立仰木中学校) came down with heat exhaustion during practice while jogging for almost 30 min. They were hospitalized with mild symptoms.
2018-07-17 20:59:43 July 12 at Nango Jr High in Otsu (南郷中学校), a teacher (31) coaching the soft tennis club punished a boy for bad serves by having him run around campus 80 times (=18 km). After running for 30 min. (2 km), the boy collapsed from the heat & was taken by ambulance. Now recovering.
2018-07-17 20:59:58 Summer 2018 fireworks schedule for Shiga Prefecture: https://t.co/7nonZvTQEK
2018-07-26 14:17:33 Site of the Ii Clan’s residence near the Imperial Palace’s Sakuradamon Gate. Now a park with this historic Sakura-no-i well 桜の井remaining. On March 3, 1860, Chief Minister Ii Naosuke left this residence & was assassinated while on his way to the castle. 
2018-07-30 01:07:30 Shiga’s soybean farmers are having difficulty growing soybeans after the recent floods and the current heat. A lower yield is expected this season. Shiga is the Kansai Region’s largest soybean producer. You can find Shiga natto in Heiwado too.
2018-07-30 01:07:39 Ohmi High School beat Ayaha High School 8-4 on July 28 to represent Shiga at the 100th national high school baseball tournament at Koshien this summer. It will be their 13th Koshien summer appearance. #近江高校 #綾羽高校
2018-07-30 01:07:47 No major damage and no casualties in Shiga have been reported after Typhoon No. 12 (Jongdari) on July 28–29. Train service was affected and some homes in Otsu and Higashi-Omi had a power outage, but everything is back to normal now.
2018-07-30 12:52:46 Japan Sumo Association did not invite Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi to speak at the Otsu Basho sumo exhibition tournament today at Ukaruchan Arena. They apparently declined to allow her to speak on the sumo ring because she’s female. How ridiculous & insulting. Glad I didn’t go. #越直美
2018-08-02 03:55:17 For 5 years in a row, Shiga’s 6th graders & 3rd-year jr high kids scored lower than the nat’l average on all scholastic achievement tests in April 2018. 6th graders had Japan’s lowest score (60%) for math. Jr high kids’ Japanese language score was among Japan’s worse. #学力テスト
2018-08-02 03:55:37 Enryakuji Temple’s National Treasure House 国宝殿 is holding a rare exhibition of 70+ Buddha statues until Nov. 30, 2018. Many are centuries old & a few are being displayed for the 1st time including one that survived Nobunaga’s Hie-zan torching in 1571. https://t.co/cKbcGQmePN
2018-08-05 01:50:23 Shiga Labor Bureau last fiscal year handled 3,276 cases of worker complaints, 5.6% more than the preceding year. Power harassment and bullying cases were the most common at 936 cases, followed by a desire to quit (375), and lower pay/benefits (275). #滋賀労働局 #労働相談
2018-08-05 01:50:32 Biwako Terrace atop Biwako Valley (elevation 1,100 m) has expanded its scenic tourist attraction with another lookout terrace in the north. The North Terrace has views of Biwako & Hira/Ibuki Mountains. Opened on Aug. 4. The original terrace faces east. #びわ湖テラス #ノーステラス
2018-08-05 01:51:39 Happy Tanabata! This small kimono shop named Omiya 近江屋 in Sunamachi Ginza in Tokyo is from Aisho, Shiga. Been here for 70 years, but they no longer sell any fabric from Shiga. This shopping street holds Tanabata Festival every Aug. #砂町銀座商店街https://t.co/PaLbftwuMV
2018-08-07 04:52:49 Ohmi High School stunningly defeated powerhouse Chiben Wakayama 7-3 today, their 1st game at the 100th Summer Koshien national high school baseball tournament. Japanese athletes sure cry a lot when they lose. #近江高等学校 #智弁和歌山 #夏の甲子園
2018-08-11 16:01:50 Average price of “Regular” gasoline at gas stations in Shiga has exceeded ¥150 per liter for 11 weeks in a row as of Aug. 6. Uncertainty over oil from Iran is affecting prices in Japan.
2018-08-11 16:02:23 On Aug. 7, a male Otsu City Hall section chief (51) saw Biwako fireworks with co-workers, drank alcohol, and drove his car. He then unknowingly hit a parked car and drove 5 km to his home. He reported to the police the next day. Punishment from the city forthcoming.
2018-08-11 16:02:52 At an elementary school in Aisho, an age 21 male clerical worker embezzled over ¥6.88 million that was to be paid to a school lunch provider. He withdrew cash from the school’s bank account for 6 months until March 2018. He used it for pachinko and food. He was fired on Aug. 10.
2018-08-11 16:03:04 In July 2018, 706 people in Shiga were taken by ambulance due to heat illness. The most ever for July since 10 years ago & 2.61 times more than July 2017. Over 42% were age 65 or older & 2 of them died. Last month, Otsu had a record 14 days with temperatures soaring 35˚C or more.
2018-08-11 16:04:18 For the Obon summer vacation, Aug. 11 is the peak for people traveling to their hometowns, and Aug. 14–15 will be the peak for people returning back to the city. Expect packed trains and roads on these days. Last vacation day is Aug. 19. Stay cool and have a safe summer vacation!
2018-08-13 09:01:33 Hikone’s Ohmi High School defeated Gunma’s Maebashi Ikuei 4-3 today, their 2nd game at the 100th Summer Koshien national high school baseball tournament. Great game. How do they play in this heat?? Love their Biwako-blue uniforms. #近江高等学校#前橋育英高校 #夏の甲子園
2018-08-18 14:34:59 On Aug. 17 in Hie, Yasu, a man in his 30s riding his bicycle fell into a 70-cm wide hole in the road where a drainage pipe was being replaced. The construction workers were taking a break and left the hole out in the open. The man sustained major injuries like a fractured jaw.
2018-08-18 14:35:34 On Aug. 11 at Sakura Cemetery さくら墓園 in Yasu, about 300 highly venomous redback spiders and their eggs were found. They were promptly killed. The female with the red stripe is the nasty one. Kill on sight, but do not touch with bare skin. #セアカゴケグモhttps://t.co/nk8kAZVpJx
2018-08-18 14:36:08 On Aug. 17, Ohmi High School beat Shizuoka’s Tokoha-Dai Kikugawa 9-4 for their 3rd game at the 100th Summer Koshien nat’l high school baseball tournament. So they advanced to the quarterfinals today, but lost to Akita’s Kana-ashi Nogyo 2-3. #近江高等学校 常葉大菊川 金足農 甲子園
2018-08-21 13:46:56 Only 40% of Shiga’s public high school classrooms have air conditioners. This is lower than the national average & the lowest in Kansai. Shiga’s remaining 22 public high schools without air conditioners expect to have them within the next 3 years or sooner, costing ¥4.6 billion.
2018-08-21 13:47:25 Four basketball players representing Japan at the current Asian Games in Jakarta were kicked out for “inappropriate” behavior with a local woman taken to a hotel. One of the players, Takuma Sato #佐藤卓磨, is from Shiga Lakestars. Pure disgrace & disgust. https://t.co/WVVh6wkxB4
2018-08-23 08:39:36 Due to Typhoon No. 20, train services have been suspended or delayed on JR Lines in Shiga. Ohmi Railways will stop running tonight by 8:00 p.m. Current status of JR lines here: https://t.co/Q9oRi30kOt
2018-08-24 17:08:16 Typhoon No. 20 damaged white plaster walls on Hikone Castle’s Tenbin Yagura & Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura, both National Important Cultural Properties. Three people in Shiga got minor injuries due to the winds, no deaths. Roofs blew off a home in Konan & waste-disposal plant in Kora.
2018-08-28 15:55:31 Okura Yohei (31, 大藏陽平) male jr. high teacher in Hikone arrested for indecent acts with age 14 jr. high girl at a Hikone hotel in June. Okura, who lives in Higashi-Omi, has admitted to the charges.
2018-08-28 15:55:49 The jr. high school soft tennis coach (31) in Otsu who ordered a boy player to run 80 laps around the school in the summer heat & another male teacher (28) at the same school who grabbed a student’s neck are being confined to their homes for their acts of corporal punishment.
2018-08-28 15:56:05 The number of disabled workers was found to be inflated by five in the Shiga Prefectural Government and by 19 in the Prefectural Board of Education. They aren’t legally disabled. At least 2.5% of prefectural workers & 2.4% of BOE workers must be legally disabled. 障害者雇用水増
2018-08-28 15:56:30 Tomoyuki Sugimoto (39, 杉本倫孝) from Shiga Prefecture who was detained by North Korea in early Aug. has been released (deported) and arrived in Beijing on Aug. 28. Although he went as a tourist, he may have been suspected of filming a military facility in Nanpo.
2018-08-28 15:56:44 Synchronized swimming duo Yukiko Inui (from Omi-Hachiman 乾友紀子) and partner Megumu Yoshida 吉田萌 won the silver medal for women’s duet artistic swimming at the current Asian Games in Jakarta on Aug. 28. China won the gold.

Shiga History January–April 2018Chronological History of Shiga | Shiga History Sept.–Dec. 2018

Shiga Prefecture Hazard Maps

The recent massive flooding in Western Japan from Kyushu to Gifu has made many of us living in Japan check the vulnerability of our own homes to severe flooding. One way to do this is to check the hazard maps published by local governments.

As listed below, Shiga Prefecture has published online hazard maps for floods, landslides, earthquakes, and nuclear power plant radiation leakage. The hazard areas are color-coded and quite detailed (you can zoom in and scroll around your neighborhood). The green “running man” icon indicates refuge areas (parks, schools, etc.). All the hazard maps are in Japanese only, no versions in English or other foreign languages. And so I’ll explain about these maps so you can have a basic understanding.

We have to look at the maps as just a rough guide. It’s impossible to accurately predict how your neighborhood or home will be affected in a major disaster (especially earthquakes).

The best thing to do is to be prepared. But it’s hard to be fully prepared for something you’ve never experienced or something that strikes unexpectedly. At the very least, always keep a stock of bottled water (at least one week’s worth), canned food and snacks, first-aid kit, and a hard hat. And whenever you go out, always carry water and snacks in case you get stuck on a train in an earthquake, etc.

Japan is certainly a disaster-prone country. Earthquakes, heavy rains, typhoons, floods, landslides, tornadoes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, leaks from nuclear power plants, and man-made errors. All of these can be quite frightening, but keep in mind that the chances of you dying or getting injured by any of the above is still minuscule compared to dying due to a traffic accident, smoking, consuming too much fat and sugar, not exercising enough, or a disease like cancer. So before looking down on Japan for its disasters, look down on your own bad habits and lifestyle that may affect your health and lifespan. (Eat more vegetables, fruits, and natto, and exercise more.)

滋賀県防災情報マップ(滋賀県ハザードマップ)

Shiga Prefecture Flood Hazard Map
http://shiga-bousai.jp/dmap/map/index?l=M_r_k_risk_map&z=&lon=&lat=
This map highlights the areas in Shiga that can get flooded due to heavy rain, overflowing rivers, or breached riverbanks. The map’s sidebar lets you set various parameters such as the probability (once in 200, 100, or 10 years) of flooding. By default, the map shows a probability of once in 200 years. The default color coding is as follows:
Aqua: Areas that can get flooded up to 0.5 meter.
Yellow: Areas that can get flooded up to 1 meter.
Green: Areas that can get flooded up to 2 meters (1st floor height).
Pink: Areas that can get flooded up to 3 or 4 meters.
Red: Areas that can get flooded up to 5 meters (2nd floor height).

River Cameras in Shiga
http://c.shiga-bousai.jp/shigapref/pc/index.html
Shiga Prefecture has live cameras monitoring major rivers. They are connected online so we can see the river’s water level. On this map, click on a camera icon to view the camera’s river image online. The image is updated every 5 min. (It’s not a video.) The map also has icons indicating the water level. Blue is normal while red is the river’s flood warning level.

Shiga Prefecture Landslide Hazard Map
http://shiga-bousai.jp/dmap/map/index?l=M_d_risk_map&z=&lon=&lat=
This map highlights the areas in Shiga vulnerable to landslides. Mountainous areas where a landslide can occur are outlined by a brown polygon and filled with slanted, vertical, or horizontal lines. (These lines indicate the type of landslide.) The yellow areas show where the landslide can bury homes and property. Again, this map is only a rough guide. Heavy rains or prolonged rains can well expand the landslide or mudflow to cover a larger area than indicated in yellow (土砂洪水氾濫). (The landslide hazard maps for areas in Okayama and Hiroshima flooded in early July 2018 proved to be woefully inaccurate since the landslides affected a much larger area than shown on the maps.) If you live near a mountain, you need to be extra vigilant during and after heavy rains.

Shiga Prefecture Earthquake Hazard Map
http://shiga-bousai.jp/dmap/map/index?l=M_e_risk_map&z=&lon=&lat=
This is an interesting map, but I wouldn’t rely on it too much. In fact, it might be pretty useless. There are just too many unknown factors, especially unknown earthquake faults. The two major earthquake faults known in Shiga are the Yanagase Fault (柳ヶ瀬断層) in northeastern Shiga in Nagahama and the Western Lake Biwa Fault Area (琵琶湖西岸断層帯) which is a series of faults along Western Shiga from Otsu to Takashima. The last major earthquake that struck Shiga was the Anegawa Earthquake (Yanagase Fault) in 1909 striking Nagahama (Torahime, Anegawa River area, and Gifu). It was magnitude 6.8 and 35 people died and 643 people were injured in Shiga. Over 2,000 homes in Shiga collapsed.
The default color coding is as follows:
Blue: Areas that may have a Magnitude -5 earthquake.
Green: Areas that may have a Magnitude 5+ earthquake (bookshelves and cupbards falling over).
Yellow: Areas that may have a Magnitude -6 earthquake (roof tiles may fall off, furniture falling over).
Orange: Areas that may have a Magnitude 6+ earthquake (buildings can collapse).
Red: Areas that may have a Magnitude 7 earthquake (buildings can collapse).

Shiga Prefecture Nuclear Plant Radiation Hazard Map
http://shiga-bousai.jp/dmap/map/index?l=M_g_gensiryoku_map&z=&lon=&lat=
This map shows a 30 km radius (in orange) from each nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. Of course, the radiation can spread beyond this radius depending on prevailing winds. Local officials are still trying to figure out how people can evacuate northern Shiga en masse in case of a major radiation breach in Fukui. If there is a major radiation leak, say good-bye to our water supply and endemic fish. People in Kyoto and Osaka will also suffer. And yet, big business and local politicians think it is worth the risk.

Index of Shiga Prefecture’s hazard maps (in Japanese)
http://shiga-bousai.jp/dmap/top/index

Take care everyone.

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