Koka’s English Web site

Koka finally has an English Web site:

It’s not bad. However, one common error is “Koka City.” It should just be “Koka.” If you say “Koka City,” it means “City” is part of the city’s name. The city’s name is “Koka,” not “Koka City” (=甲賀シティ市).

For example, in the US, we have “Kansas City” and “New York City.” In both cases, “City” is part of the city’s name.

In Japan, we don’t have any city names where “City” is part of the name. We can say “city of Koka.” And for Japanese cities whose name is the same as the prefecture, we can say for example, Niigata city, Saitama city, etc., to avoid confusionwith the prefecture’s name. In such cases, “city” should not be capitalized.

Emperor and Empress visit Shiga

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Shiga Prefecture for the first time in 13 years during Nov. 10-13, 2007. The main reason was to attend the 27th Zenkoku Yutaka na Umizukuri Taikai (National Convention to Make Bountiful Oceans 第27回全国豊かな海づくり大会) held in Otsu.
On the first day, they visited a nursing home called Care Town Karasaki in Otsu. Some 20 patients there sang Biwako Shuko no Uta (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) for the Imperial couple and the Emperor demanded an encore for them to sing it again. It is Shiga’s most famous song.
On the second day the 11th, they attended the formal opening ceremony of the National Convention to Make Bountiful Oceans held at the lakeside Biwako Hall in Otsu. In his speech, the Emperor reflected, “It hurts my heart that the blue gill fish I brought to Japan from America for human consumption is now damaging the ecosystem of Lake Biwa.” In 1960 as Crown Prince on a trip to the U.S., the Emperor brought back the blue gill fish given to him in Chicago, Illinois and intended it to be raised in Japan for human consumption.
Some of the blue gill subsequently escaped from a research facility and entered Lake Biwa. The fish multiplied rapidly during the 1990s. Since it eats the baby fish of native lake fish found nowhere else in the world, the blue gill (and black bass) has become a major ecological problem in the lake. After the formal ceremony, the Emperor and Empress went outside the lakeside hall and released baby fish of native lake fish into the lake. Some of the ceremonial pomp included water-spraying fireboats and fishing boats sailing in a procession on the lake. The convention also had pavilions and booths in the Hama-Otsu area for the public to become more aware of fisheries in Lake Biwa.
After the convention, the Imperial couple took a boat ride to Karasuma Peninsula in Kusatsu to visit the Lake Biwa Museum. On the 12th, they visited Shigaraki Ceramic Park and the ruins of Shigaraki-no-Miya which was a detached palace of Emperor Shomu.
On the 13th, they visited Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei and returned to Tokyo via shinkansen train from Kyoto Station. It must have been a spectacle to see Shinto’s highest-ranking priest (the emperor) paying a visit to the headquarters of one of Japan’s largest Buddhist sects. Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko accompanied the Emperor and Empress during their tour in Shiga.

Met with Koka International Society

Today I went to Koka and participated in the Koka International Society’s (KIS) Kokusai Koryu Salon gathering 甲賀市国際交流協 国際交流サロン. It was a special occasion because nine people from Koka’s sister cities in Michigan came. It was a chance for them to meet and talk with local Japanese folks. They arrived in Shiga on July 26 and really enjoyed their stay, especially since they stayed with host families in Koka.

I also gave all the Michigan visitors a free copy of my Lake Biwa Rowing Song CD and introduced the song in English. It was my first time to give the CD to people from Michigan. So finally, 琵琶湖周航の歌 英語版、海を渡る!うれしい顔

I enjoyed meeting the friendly staff of KIS. Their office is very near Minakuchi-Jonan Station on Ohmi Railways. Koka is the farthest place from where I am in northern Shiga so I don’t go there very often. When I do go again, it’s nice to know people to visit.

Tsuchiyama, Koka and Shinagawa, Tokyo

Pine tree from Tsuchiyama in Shinagawa-jukuLast weekend, I went to visit Shinagawa-juku 品川宿 in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo for the first time. Shinagawa was the first post town 宿場 on the Tokaido Road. Shinagawa-juku is near Shinagawa Station.

In Shiga, there are many shukuba-machi like Kusatsu , Minakuchi , and Samegai because we have the Nakasendo and Tokaido passing through. I’ve visited most of them and most of them have some shukuba-like traditional buildings such as the impressive Honjin guesthouse in Kusatsu.

So when I visited Shinagawa-juku, I was disappointed to see that there was nothing traditional. Everything was very modern and it looks like any ordinary street in Japan. But the people in Shinagawa-juku are very proud about the history of Shinagawa-juku and they have a tourist information office near the entrance of the Tokaido Road. They also have a walking map for Shinagawa-juku and signs in Japanese (sometimes English too) explaining about various historical spots in Shinagawa-juku.

There are also several pine trees along the old Tokaido Road in Shinagawa-juku. They were all donated to Shinagawa-juku from other shukuba-machi on the Tokaido Road. And one of the pine trees came from Tsuchiyama in Koka! The other pine trees came from Oiso, Hamamatsu, and Mishima. Tsuchiyama is the 49th post town on the Tokaido (there are 53 post towns in total).

Pine tree in ShinagawaThe Tsuchiyama pine tree is at the site of Shinagawa-juku’s Honjin (see photo) which is now an empty space. (Looks very lonely.) I’ve never visited Tsuchiyama. Hope to go there soon.

See photos of Shinagawa-juku here.

Tokaido 東海道 – Major route which connected Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto during the Edo Period. Before train lines, people traveled on foot or horse. It took days to reach the destination so the travelers required lodging along the way. The Tokaido had 53 towns or stages called shukuba which provided lodging, food, and entertainment.

Shukuba 宿場 – Post town or stage town. Since Shiga is next to Kyoto with both the Nakasendo and Tokaido Roads passing through, there are many shukuba-machi towns. Nakasendo in Shiga includes KashiwabaraSamegaiToriimotoMusaMoriyamaKusatsu, and Otsu. And Tokaido has Tsuchiyama, MinakuchiIshibeKusatsu, and Otsu. The Hokkoku Kaido which goes to the Hokuriku region also has Kinomoto as a post town.

Honjin 本陣 – The main guesthouse in a shukuba for VIPs like daimyo lords, Emperors, etc. Luxurious accomodations on a large plot. There is also the Waki-Honjin which is a second Honjin. In Shiga, the Kusatsu Honjin is the finest example.

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