Plans to further develop the man-made Karasuma Peninsula in Kusatsu with a resort hotel failed as no takers emerged to build it. A third-sector corporation called the Biwako Lakefront Center (びわ湖レイクフロントセンター), established in 1989 by Shiga Prefecture, Kusatsu, Shiga Bank, and other companies to promote the hotel resort development, was dissolved in Aug. 2008.
The total losses was calculated in March 2009 as follows:
Shiga Prefecture: Loss of 290 million yen.
Kusatsu city: Loss of 340 million yen.
Shiga Bank: Loss of 460 million yen.
The peninsula already has the Mizunomori lotus pond (blooms in July) and Lake Biwa Museum. The rest of the land is pretty much a park.
Radio station FM Kusatsu has started broadcasting on March 22, 2009. When you’re in the Kusatsu area, tune to 78.5 Mhz. Their studio is in Kusatsu Yume Honjin (くさつ夢本陣). They should reach about 80,000 households.
They will offer local programming during 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays, and 9 am to 5 pm on weekends. I hope they will include some international programs as well.
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.
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.