Shiga Prefecture at Tourism Expo Japan 2014



Updated: Sept. 30, 2014

Great fun and entertainment at the huge Tourism Expo Japan trade show held on September 27-28, 2014 for the public at Tokyo Big Sight. The expo had tourist booths from all 47 prefectures and 150 countries. A great place to pick up travel information, ask travel/sightseeing questions, see traditional Japanese crafts, and enjoy dances and entertainment from around Japan and the world. For the first time this year, they combined the domestic travel fair and the international travel showcase to create this new trade show. So it’s now one of the world’s largest travel/tourism trade shows. About 150,000 attended the expo (admission ¥1,300 for adults).

Lots of local food and entertainment too. Besides three large performance stages to showcase Japanese dances and festivals, many booths had their own mini stages for cultural entertainment like hula dancers at the Hawaii booth. I thoroughly enjoyed the expo and hope to see it every year from now on. Regretfully, I didn’t get to see everything in one day. So much stuff and so many things going on.

Shiga Prefecture had a medium-size booth and a 30-min. slot on one of the large entertainment stages.

One of the food courts also held a donburi (bowl of rice with a topping) contest where Shiga had a booth. Sixteen donburi booths sold donburi from various parts of Japan for ¥500 and we could vote for our favorite donburi. Very popular place for lunch.

Here are some photos of Shiga at Tourism Expo Japan 2014.


Shiga Prefecture’s booth.

Shiga’s booth represented only Hikone, Maibara, and Nagahama. But I didn’t see anything related to Maibara. Even Otsu wasn’t there. No Lake Biwa, no ninja either. Very puzzling. Perhaps the other cities did not have the budget for a booth. Or maybe the cities are taking turns at this expo, which still doesn’t make sense.


Shiga booth


Inside Shiga’s booth.

Shiga’s booth was mainly occupied by this space, supposedly for some kind of entertainment. But there was no schedule of who or what would appear. Hiko-nyan supposed to appear, but the staff I asked couldn’t tell me any specifics. At one small corner of the booth, they gave out brochures. Caffy was there too, but only sporadically. The booth’s emphasis was on Hikone Castle billed as on the “World Heritage Site Tentative List” which is really nothing to brag about. And Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri being included in Japan’s application for inclusion in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list (to join Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri floats). This is also nothing to brag about, not until it actually makes the list. Really couldn’t understand this booth.



Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri musicians on stage.


Nagahama Hikiyama musicians on stage. Extreme left is the mayor of Nagahama. They all looked too serious and glum.

On September 27, 2014, Shiga had a 30-min. slot on the large Stage A from 2 pm. First the mayor of Nagahama gave a short speech, then these musicians from the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival played while the large screen above projected a video of the festival.


Nagahama Hikiyama singer was excellent.

Nagahama Hikiyama narrator-singer was excellent.


Nagahama Hikiyama Festival kabuki dancer (Sanbaso).

Following the Nagahama Hikiyama musicians, this young kabuki dancer performed with live narrator-singers. He was very good. But I wish there were at least two or three of them.



Hiko-nyan’s turn on stage.

Hiko-nyan promoting mascot character festival.

Hiko-nyan promoting mascot character festival.

Following the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival introduction was Hiko-nyan’s appearance. Still a shutterbug’s darling, he only had to walk left and right on stage and pose for cell phone photos. Although Kumamon and Funasshi have overtaken Hiko-nyan in terms of fame and popularity, Hiko-nyan remains popular. Disappointed that nothing from Maibara was featured on stage. They should’ve brought Maibara’s taiko drum dancers.


Shiga donburi

Shiga donburi

An eatery in Shiga had this donburi booth (left) for lunch. Unfortunately, it was right next to the super popular Kobe beef booth (right) which always had long lines. As you can see, the Shiga booth wasn’t crowded at all. It served a rice bowl with a topping of Omi beef, pork, and chicken.


Shiga’s donburi




Hikone butsudan maker

The expo had a traditional crafts area with traditional crafts people giving live demos. Shiga had two two crafts booths. One was this Hikone butsudan (Buddhist altar) maker. I had a nice talk with this master craftsman from Hikone. He builds the altar doors. The sculptured wooden parts are made in Maibara (Samegai). He makes several hundred butsudan every year. He even makes altars for Buddhist temples and repairs butsudan too. Seems very busy. He said I could visit and see him work in Hikone. Yep, I will do so. The butsudan on the left behind him showed a price tag of 1,641,600 yen.


Omi jofu hemp cloth

Omi jofu hemp cloth 近江上布

Besides the butsudan maker, there was a booth for weaving Omi jofu (hemp cloth) from Aisho. Happy to see not one, but two crafts people from Shiga. You could try and weave the cloth yourself.


Miss Sansa Odori from Morioka, Iwate.

Miss Sansa Odori from Morioka, Iwate.

I wasn’t too impressed with Shiga’s booth and stage presentation. They need to have better spokespersons on stage like these two Miss Sansa Odori from Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. They had bright, smiling faces and a welcome tone of voice. Not only that, they could dance too. Sansa Odori is a native dance of Morioka performed in August. The tourism expo was like a virtual tour of Japan at one place. Highly recommend it.

Sansa Odori dancers from Morioka, Iwate.

Sansa Odori dancers from Morioka, Iwate.







台風18号で沈んだ屋形船。大津市瀬田川沿にて。9月20日。撮影/Unose Masaki

台風18号で沈んだ屋形船。大津市瀬田川沿にて。9月20日。撮影/Unose Masaki
A yakata-bune boat sunk by Typhoon Man-Yi in Otsu. Only the roof can be seen.



This is a list of tourist sights and major cultural properties in Shiga which were damaged or affected by Typhoon Man-Yi (No. 18) on September 15-16, 2013. English version of this post is provided on my Twitter feed. It is for the safety and welfare of our visitors. Compiled by Philbert Ono.


  • 信楽高原鐵道(貴生川駅〜信楽駅間) – 全線運休。川に架かる鉄橋の一部が橋脚ごと流され、運転再開のめどが立っていません。代行バスあり。のりばの地図最新の情報はこちら
  • JR石山駅発の信楽・ミホミュージアム行きの帝産バスは運休。(最新の情報はこちら
  • ミホミュージアム~信楽線の帝産バスも運休。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 京阪電車の京津線(御陵駅~浜大津駅間) – 運転を見合わせ、振替輸送およびバス代行あり。(9月30日より復旧)(最新の情報はこちら
  • 高島市内のバスと乗合タクシーの運休や折返しは多数。詳細はこちら



  • 大津市の石山寺の境内は複数の場所で土砂崩れのため、一部が通行止め。紫式部銅像など見れません。建造物および人的な被害はなし。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 大津市の三井寺の国宝の金堂で、「亀腹」と呼ばれる基礎部分の漆喰(しっくい)がはがれたり亀裂が生じた。写真
  • 大津市の国史跡「近江国府跡・国庁跡」は、遺跡北側ののり面が崩れ、隣接する市道に土砂が流出。
  • 大津市の立木観音の寺の石段が崩れたと報道されたが、参拝できそうです。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 大津市の国史跡の堂ノ上遺跡で、史跡北端の私有地ののり面が幅六メートル、高さ三メートルにわたって崩落。
  • 甲賀市のミホミュージアムは9月24日まで臨時休館。開館後、周辺道路が復旧するまで一部縮小して営業中。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 彦根市の佐和山ハイキングコースが一時閉鎖。地盤が弱くなっているため。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 国宝彦根城西の丸三重櫓は、矢を放つために設けられた狭間(さま)から雨が吹き込み、土壁の一部がはがれ落ちた。
  • 近江八幡市の安土城は土砂崩れのため、一部が通行不可。二王門南口の郭から山道側へ幅10メートル、高さ20メートルにわたり土砂が崩落して樹木が倒れ、一部で通行不能に。石垣も数カ所で崩れている。
  • 近江八幡市の重要文化財の旧西川家住宅では主要施設の軒裏の二カ所計〇・三平方メートルがはがれ落ちた。そして郷土史料館の屋根瓦が十枚程度落下した。
  • 高島市の海津大崎は通行止め。
  • 高島市の「八ツ淵の滝」登山道は通行止め。ガリバー青少年旅行村から「八ッ淵の滝」に向かう登山道が、当分の間通行止め。ガリバー青少年旅行村までの車道は通行可能。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 多賀町の河内の風穴への道は通行止めのため、河内の風穴は休業中。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 信楽町神山地先にある「鶏鳴の滝」につながる道路が崩落し、通行禁止。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 栗東市の金勝の里キャンプ場は壊滅状態。
  • 竜王町の観光ブドウ園は壊滅状態。
  • 野洲市の宗泉寺の「木造薬師如来座像」など重文の仏像5体を市歴史民俗博物館へ移した。安置されていた薬師堂の手前まで土砂が迫ったため。
  • 栗東市の阿弥陀寺の重文「木造薬師如来座像」は、寄託先の栗東歴史民俗博物館で、収蔵庫の雨漏りが発生。仏像の左手やひざ部分で、水滴によるしみが発生。
  • 琵琶湖の湖岸の所々には流木やゴミが残っている。注意を。写真



“We love Shiga” banners

150 x 33 px



We love Shiga


I’ve created “We love (heart) Shiga” banners (horizontal and square) for anyone to download and use. Feel free to use them on your Web site, blog, Facebook, business cards, letterheads, etc.

You can opt to link the banner to any Web site about Shiga. (It doesn’t have to be Or just tack it on your home page for decoration or self-expression. I also provide large sizes for printing on A4- or A3-size paper. Make a poster for your dormitory wall or create T-shirt iron-on transfers and bumper stickers. Free for non-commercial use.

Let’s spread the word that not just you love Shiga, but also your boy/girlfriend, wife/husband, parents, family, relatives, kids, friends, students, etc.

And oh, in case you can’t read Japanese, the kanji characters (left to right) read “Shi ga.” Keep in mind that kanji characters are cool. Quite a few people outside Japan have kanji character tattoos. These banners also make for a Japanese lesson. (Hover over the image to see the pixel dimensions.) You can also click on the “We love (heart) Shiga” banner in the sidebar of Shiga News or to go directly to this page.

We love Shigaのバナー用画像を作りました。だれでも無料でダウンロードできます。ホームページ、ブログ、FBプロフィール画像、emailや手紙のレターヘッド、名刺、ポスター等々自由に使ってもいいです(非営利的)。




Extra large sizes here:

We love Shiga horizontal banner (1000 pixels wide)

We love Shiga horizontal banner (1500 pixels wide)

We love Shiga square banner (1000 pixels wide)

We love Shiga square banner (1500 pixels wide)

Shiga Governor Kada expressing her Like on Facebook for “We love Shiga” banners:

We love Shiga FB



栗東市役所ホームページの機械翻訳結果の一部。 A bad idea to officially use machine translation on local government Web sites.










Bing/Microsoft Translatorの結果。

機械翻訳サービスによって翻訳結果が大きく変わってくることがあります。栗東市が使っているGoogle Translateは性的な俗語も取り入れているようです。一方、例えばMicrosoft Translatorはこういう結果です。問題の「くりちゃんバス」は適当な英語がないため日本語をそのまま残しています(右の画像)。




Hikone: A Journey in Time (manga review)


Hikone: A Journey in Time (cover)

Updated: Nov. 7, 2014

The Hikone Board of Education has published a manga comic booklet in English titled, Hikone: A Journey in Time. Targeting tourists, the black-and-white manga explains about Hikone’s feudal history and cultural sights through the eyes of John, a fictitious 20-year-old lad from Michigan (Shiga’s sister state) visiting Hikone while staying with a Japanese family. The A5-size, 70-page booklet is available for 500 yen at the Hikone Castle Museum next to the ticket booth where you enter Hikone Castle.

The manga story starts off with John visiting Hikone Castle with his host family, the Tachibanas who have a 12-year-old daughter named Hana. A lightning bolt during a rainstorm transports John and Hana back in time to the year 1600 during the Battle of Sekigahara (in Gifu). A mysterious and beckoning cat named Toku serves as their time-warp tour guide as they witness the Eastern Forces’ Tokugawa Ieyasu defeat the Western Forces’ (and Shiga native) Ishida Mitsunari. Then they see Ieyasu’s major ally Ii Naomasa consequently awarded the domain of Hikone and his successors building Hikone Castle and the town. Ii Naosuke is also introduced as the Tairo (Chief Minister) of the Tokugawa government in 1858 who made the decision to open up Japan to the Western powers led by Commodore Perry (very good manga likeness).

Naosuke is later assassinated by radical samurai from Mito in 1860 while on his snowy way to Edo Castle’s Sakurada-mon Gate. Although the manga shows him being shot and stabbed in his palanquin, it does not show (nor mention) that he was also dragged out of his palanquin and beheaded.

Toku the talking cat then takes John and Hana to see Hikone’s cultural products like kotoyaki pottery and Takamiya jofu textiles and Korean emissary processions. John and Hana are later zapped back to the present day as the cat disappears. The manga continues with the legendary story of the maneki-neko or beckoning cat saving Ii Naotaka (3rd lord of Hikone) from a lightning bolt at Gotokuji temple in Tokyo. John also visits a butsudan Buddhist altar factory where Hana’s dad works. I wish they also mentioned that many of the butsudan parts are crafted elsewhere (such as in neighboring Maibara) and then assembled in Hikone.

The end of the book has short English articles about the Korean Road (along which the Korean emissary traveled in Hikone on the way to Edo), Hikone Castle being on the World Heritage Site Tentative List, Hiko-nyan (Hikone’s official mascot), and a list and map of cultural properties in Hikone. It doesn’t elaborate on Hikone Castle’s prospects of actually becoming a World Heritage Site which I think is a long shot. It has languished on the Tentative List for 20 years since Japan first nominated it in 1992. The manga is apparently part of a strategy to gain support for Hikone Castle’s designation as a World Heritage Site.

Actually, I think they should first push Lake Biwa‘s designation as a national park (it’s a quasi-national park). It’s one of the world’s oldest lakes with unique native species and has a long satoyama history of people living and interacting with the lake. And besides Hikone Castle, there are numerous nationally historic, cultural, and scenic sites around the lake such Mt. Shizugatake, Anegawa River, Mt. Ibuki, Nagahama Castle, Lake Yogo, Azuchi Castle, and Harie.

The manga provides whirlwind/superficial coverage of Hikone’s history, so some important details are missing. But it does give the newcomer a good, if not amusing, idea of what Hikone is about. It’s good enough for me to buy a copy to give to friends visiting Shiga.

The booklet is an excellent attempt by a local Board of Education to reach out to foreign tourists, a very rare project indeed. All local Boards of Education should follow suit. After all, they are the ones who have the expertise in local history and culture. The tourist bureaus are not terribly interested in explaining about local culture and history (because they are not academics nor researchers) and don’t care so much about serving a minority (foreign) segment of visitors. When they do produce something in English, it’s usually pretty shoddy.

The Hikone Board of Education contracted Kyoto Seika University to produce the booklet. The manga was drawn by a graduate of the university, Kojima Eiyu (小島瑛由). He did a fine job. The English translation was done by a manga researcher at Kyoto Seika University International, Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto, and the editing was supervised by Peter J. Morris, Executive Director of International Programs at the University of Shiga Prefecture (not to be confused with Shiga University, a national university).

Employing native English speakers was wise (compared to using machine translation or a Japanese translator), but the booklet still has too many typos and grammatical issues. Apparently, the translator and editor weren’t given a chance to proofread their work. Many Japanese in printing/publishing don’t understand that translators/writers need time to proofread their work. I bet it was a rush job and the translator had only the Japanese text to translate, without the benefit of seeing the manga cells. It’s like translating a photo caption without seeing the photo. It’s very difficult. The translator/editor should also be given adequate leeway to modify the English text/dialog to suit the foreign readership and convey the meaning accurately.

The booklet includes a separate insert providing a Japanese translation of the English dialog on each page. (It seems to be the Japanese source text that was translated into English.)

Some 3,000 copies have been printed for the first printing. According to the Shiga Hikone Shimbun, the production cost was 2.6 million yen (867 yen per copy) which means they are taking a substantial loss by selling it for so cheap at 500 yen. The BOE published it to mark the 75th anniversary of Hikone. For more information, call the Hikone Board of Education at 0749-26-5833.

If they will revise this manga for another printing, here are my suggestions/corrections (excluding typos and grammatical errors) for improvement:

    • On the booklet’s cover, instead of touristy photographs, why not have a large manga in color to indicate that it’s a manga booklet? It would be more eye-catching.
    • John’s dad is Japanese and mom is American. But the story does not play up this tidbit at all. His parents don’t say anything and we can only question his nationality.
    • The word “cool” is used too often.
    • The asterisk used to cite Japanese terms should appear at the end of the word, not above it.
    • Page 7 describes Hana as a “little girl.” I wouldn’t call a 6th grader “little.”
    • On page 7, delete “the” in “I especially love the castles.” (An example of a grammatical error.)
    • “City” need not be appended to “Hikone.” It’s not part of the city’s name (like Kansas City or New York City). Appending “city” would be necessary only if the name of the city is the same as the prefecture, such as Hiroshima, to prevent confusion. I also recommend teaching how to pronounce “Hikone.” Most Americans might pronounce it Hee-cone with a silent e.
    • Page 10 does not say where Uoya-machi is and its relation to the castle.
    • Page 11 should mention that the Horse Stable and Tenbin Yagura are Important Cultural Properties. Too bad there’s no illustration of the Horse Stable’s interior. No mention of the Nishinomaru 3-story turret which is also an Important Cultural Property. It doesn’t show the exhibits inside Hikone Castle Museum. Should mention that the castle is a short walk from Hikone Station.
    • Page 14 says that you can walk around the outside balcony. This seems to be a mistranslation. It’s not about walking around the outside balcony (which we cannot do since the balcony is too small), it’s about the cornice-like balcony that goes around the tower. Also on the same page, “one can only climb up 1 or 2 meters” needs to be clarified/explained further.
    • The use of capital letters is inconsistent: For example, Hikone Castle and Hikone castle.
    • Page 16 should mention the other three castles (Matsumoto, Inuyama, and Himeji) which are also National Treasures.
    • Page 19 should caption the statue of Ii Naosuke.
    • Page 24 has “…East and West. Led by Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu.” This makes it look like Mitsunari led the East and Ieyasu the West. It should be vice versa.
    • Page 25 should mention where Sekigahara is. And that the battle sites can be easily visited from Sekigahara Station, not far from Hikone.
    • Page 36 shows Naosuke’s entourage leaving his residence near Edo Castle (or perhaps entering Sakurada-mon Gate). However, the text says that he met trouble as he was entering Sakurada-mon Gate. This implies that he was assassinated at or inside the gate or castle grounds. Not so. He was attacked soon after leaving his residence and well before they reached Sakurada-mon Gate.
    • The practice of breaking up a sentence into two (or more) speech bubbles doesn’t bode well in English.
    • Page 42 should explain the Noh illustrations.
    • Page 48 has mistranslations in the second cell. Hana asks, “So did many Westerners come to Japan?” Toku answers, “Actually, not at all. But for many years before, there were many visits from Korea.” This exchange should read, “Did only Westerners come to Japan?” and Toku answering, “No, there were also Korean visitors from centuries before.” There were the Dutch at Dejima, so it’s not “not at all.”
    • Page 60 should mention that funa-zushi is the origin of sushi instead of “the only true fermented sushi in Japan.” (As if there are fake fermented sushi in Japan.)
    • “Hikonyan” should be spelled “Hiko-nyan.” Otherwise, people are apt to mispronounce it as “Hikon-yan,” for example.
    • 冊子の全体的の印象はよいですが、なんか英語訳が急いで作られた感じがする。スペルミス、文法のミス、説明不足、誤訳などが結構あります。もっと時間をかけて最終のチェックが必要。教育委員会の英文出版物としてもっときちんとした正しい英語が重要。英語を勉強している生徒たちに間違った英語・訳を普及させたくない。

Update (Feb. 9, 2014): A Japanese version of this English manga has been published in Jan. 2014. It is selling for 500 yen. As of Jan. 2014, about 1,500 copies of the English version has been sold.


Sample manga page from Hikone: A Journey in Time.

Japanese translation insert (cover).


Sample Japanese insert page.

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