Shiga History September–December 2017

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s major news headlines for September–December 2017 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at GMT).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts were limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter) until early Nov. 2017. After that, the limit was increased to 280 characters in English. Dates and times below are based on GMT instead of Japan time.

2017-09-01 15:34:24 Due to North Korea’s missile threat, Hikone Higashi School has canceled a 4-day class trip to Guam scheduled for this Nov. for 317 students.
2017-09-03 10:58:28 Ropeway to Biwako Valley/Terrace had mechanical problems this morning, stranding most of the 600+ visitors who had to hike down the mountain
2017-09-03 11:12:37 RT @onyanlif:びわ湖バレイの公式サイトの今日の営業案内の書き方おかしいと思う(笑)



2017-09-04 02:42:48 After waiting 4 hours, they were told to hike down Biwako Valley, taking them 2.5 hours while the ropeway had mechanical problems.
2017-09-07 19:45:37 Due to North Korea’s missile threat, Torahime High School also changed its class trip destination from Guam to Okinawa this year. #交通事故の方が危険
2017-09-09 11:49:45 Biwako Valley and Biwako Terrace will be closed until Oct. due to cable replacement work on the ropeway that had mechanical problems since Sept. 3.
2017-09-09 13:24:45 Hikone-native Kiryu Yoshihide, the 1st Japanese to run 100 meters in less than 10 sec. (9.98 sec.) at intercollegiate meet in Fukui today.
2017-09-10 02:59:28 Hikone-native sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu is front-page news in almost all Japanese newspapers this morning. #桐生祥秀9秒台
2017-09-12 12:28:33 Shiga’s ineptness during disasters became evident when Ane River overflowed last month. Disaster info systems had errors or didn’t work.
2017-09-13 03:30:02 Pre-1903 old photo of Nagahama Station from my friend’s family collection. Going semi-viral. Lots of railway fans in Japan.
2017-09-14 01:04:26 Tanaka Kazuma (23,田中一真), employee at National Printing Bureau’s Hikone Plant arrested for groping and hitting age-20 college coed in Hikone.
2017-09-14 01:07:42 New edition of Japan Post Office’s die-cut postcards (gotochi form card) are out. Shiga’s latest one shows Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri.
2017-09-15 12:22:38 Age 31 Hino High School male teacher fired for DUI hit-and-run accident in Osaka in June. Also fined ¥300,000 for improper disposal of docs.
2017-09-15 12:32:48 Age 48 Kokusai Joho High School male teacher (soccer club advisor) reprimanded for losing docs containing soccer club members’ personal info
2017-09-15 12:42:29 Shiga police sergeant (40s) received a warning for unauthorized use of police database to check criminal record of his wife’s male friend.
2017-09-16 02:56:41 Typhoon No. 18 rains expected to hit Shiga tomorrow the 17th from around noon.
2017-09-17 02:45:57 Due to the typhoon, the Inazuma Rock Festival has been canceled today. Tickets will be refunded. See website:
2017-09-17 03:52:19 Created the “Shiga Travel Alerts” section on home page. Because nobody does it, not even in Japanese. Poor tourists.
2017-09-23 12:15:54 今日のツーリズムEXPOジャパン(東京ビッグサイト)の滋賀のステージはさすがにつまらない。ご当地キャラとくだらないおしゃべりだけ。(その出張費が勿体無い。)ステージってやっぱり踊りなどのパフォーマンスがないとダメです。来年には土山のケンケト踊りでも披露したらいかがですか? 
2017-09-23 12:22:10 At Tourism Expo Japan today at Tokyo Big Sight, friendly staff (including this American lady) at the Omi-jofu (#近江上布) hemp fabric booth. 
2017-09-28 17:05:57 On Sep. 23 at Hikone Castle Resort and Spa, 29 people at a banquet suffered from food poisoning. Hotel’s kitchen was shutdown until the 29th.
2017-09-28 17:23:05 A recent survey found 141 Airbnb-type “minpaku” lodges operating in Shiga and 110 of them operating without a hotel business license.
2017-09-29 12:55:34 Former Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko will run for Shiga’s House of Representatives District 1 Diet seat in the Oct. 22 election. A shoo-in.
2017-10-01 15:01:28 Ceremony held today for Ohmi Railways Hino Station now completely renovated, looks like new. Will miss the old station from 1916.
2017-10-02 10:15:21 CUTE video of “Lake Biwa Rowing Song” sung in English by kids at ECC Junior in Konan city. Taught by our friend. GOOD JOB!!! #琵琶湖周航の歌英語版
2017-10-06 12:16:17 今夜のNHK総合「歴史秘話ヒストリア」がよかったね。浅井長政の話で感動しました。この番組はいつも日本の歴史をわかりやすく説明するので大好きです。視聴者の皆さん、是非小谷城を訪れてください。10月15日午前0時05分に再放送されます。
2017-10-10 12:47:26 Enjoyed child kabuki at Maibara Hikiyama Matsuri on Oct. 9, Sports Day. #米原曳山まつり #旭山 #菅原伝授手習鑑三段目 
2017-10-11 13:45:52 Univ. of Shiga Prefecture Human Cultures male professor (age 63)-cum-former vice president punished for sexual harassment of female student.
2017-10-11 13:49:40 Former age 63 Vice President of University of Shiga Prefecture suspended for only 2 months for 1.5-year sexual harassment of female student.
2017-10-14 10:53:30 Matchlock gun shooting at Nagahama Castle this morning by gunners from Tanegashima (Kagoshima), Sakai (Osaka), and Hikone. #第34回長浜火縄銃大会 
2017-10-14 11:00:21 Colorful kimono today at the Nagahama Kimono Garden Party. Drawing also held, grand prize (trip to Hawaii) won by a Maibara lady. #長浜きもの大園遊会 
2017-10-16 13:45:08 「鶴瓶の家族に乾杯」がよく彦根へ来てくれた。しかし出会った市民はナーバスまたはシャイな方が多かったね(笑)。もっと明るく笑顔で迎えて欲しかったな。閉鎖的な県には苦手かもしれないが、よそ者にも心を開いてもっとフレンドリーにしよう。
2017-10-20 03:46:34 Made in Echigawa: Toured UCC Shiga Factory that uses clean water from the Suzuka mountains to make coffee filled in capped cans and PETs.
2017-10-20 03:47:07 Made in Echigawa: Weaving hemp fabric for the 1st time at Omi Jofu Traditional Crafts Center in Aisho. #近江上布機織り体験 
2017-10-20 04:03:22 Made in Echigawa: Interviewed Nishikawa Yamato Gakki who makes koto. Beautiful instrument, beautiful sound! #西川和楽器 
2017-10-21 07:54:57 Due to Typhoon Lan (No. 21) hitting Shiga on Sunday, Oct. 22, most festivals and events on this day have been cancelled in Shiga and elsewhere.
2017-10-21 13:38:38 Japan Meteorological Agency has issued heavy rain warnings for southern and eastern Shiga and Koka.
2017-10-22 01:58:52 Typhoon Lan is expected to hit Shiga this evening, trains will be suspended or delayed from late afternoon.
2017-10-23 02:02:44 A sinkhole in Konan and 3 broken utility poles blocking Route 8 in Ryuo are part of the typhoon damage in Shiga reported so far. No injuries.
2017-10-23 02:04:28 Over 18,000 households are still without power mainly in Otsu and Takashima.
2017-10-23 02:12:18 Trains on JR Biwako, Kosei, Kusatsu, and Hokuriku Lines in Shiga have been suspended or reduced as of 11 am today.
2017-10-23 11:38:18 Former Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko lost her bid for Shiga’s House of Representatives District 1 Diet seat against incumbent Ooka Toshitaka.
2017-10-23 11:39:00 Typhoon Lan tore off the white wall of Hikone Castle’s Tamon Yagura turret and broke 9 utility poles on the Kosei Line near Hira Station.
2017-10-23 12:01:35 Kosei Line running only between Yamashina and Katata. Ohmi Railways suspended between Hino and Minakuchi Stations due to landslide. Bus provided
2017-10-24 00:27:31 Imoko-no-Sato Michinoeki roadside station in Wani, Otsu is closed due to major typhoon damage (roof blew off). #道の駅妹子の郷
2017-10-24 00:28:51 Due to broken utility poles near Hira Station, JR Kosei Line is not running between Katata and Omi-Imazu Stations. Reduced runs beyond Imazu.
2017-10-24 10:17:24 In Otsu, part of Shiga Jr. High School’s gym roof got blown off by Typhoon Lan. With no power and water, it remains closed. #志賀中学校
2017-10-25 02:31:23 DEC is holding its annual Cancer Walk at 10 am on Oct. 29 at Higashiomi Green Stadium. Donate for cancer research.
2017-10-25 02:31:46 The entire JR Kosei Line is running again. Power returning to affected areas. Cable car from Sakamoto to Enryakuji will run from Oct. 26.
2017-10-27 01:33:45 Blog post reviewing UCC Shiga Factory tour in Aisho:
2017-10-29 08:14:14 Due to winds, JR Kosei Line has been suspended between Katata and Omi-Imazu Stations for the rest of today. Reduced train runs to/from Katata.
2017-10-29 18:24:09 4th graders in St. Johns, Michigan sing the Biwako Rowing Song in Japanese. They hold an art exchange with Konan.
2017-10-29 18:29:14 Shar Mohr in Michigan studied Japanese and visited Shiga for the 1st time in Sept. A local paper wrote about it. Nice!
2017-10-31 17:03:02 “CocoShiga,” Shiga’s new gift shop, eatery, and tourist info center opened in Nihonbashi, Tokyo on Oct. 29. General manager is from Okinawa.
2017-10-31 17:03:11 Yamaguchi Yuki (28,山口佑樹) math teacher at Moriyama Kita High School fired for trying to take an upskirt photo of a female student in class.
2017-10-31 17:04:18 Korean envoy documents from Nagahama-born Confucian scholar Amenomori Hoshu (1668-1755) will be inscribed as UNESCO Memory of the World.雨森芳洲
2017-11-02 17:57:40 Typhoon-caused landslide cleared and Ohmi Railways running again between Hino and Minakuchi Stations after a week of stoppage.
2017-11-03 20:38:55 Drunken Maibara City Hall worker Yomori Tatsuya (41,世森達也) arrested for punching a taxi driver who drove him home on Nov. 3, 12:45 am. #米原の恥
2017-11-03 20:39:12 3 hikers from Kyoto who got lost on Mt. Bunagatake on Nov. 2, found safe by police next day. Avoid alpine hiking after typhoon! #観光客用危険情報不足
2017-11-05 07:15:17 I wonder if they also showed her Lake Biwa pearls. I hope they did…
2017-11-09 04:34:18 I welcome Twitter increasing the max. characters to 280 per tweet. Now I don’t have to use abbreviations which my Japanese readers of English might not understand. But I will still try to keep my tweets as short as possible. I can now use English + Japanese in one tweet. Great!
2017-11-09 05:16:27 Lots of Shiga sake at CocoShiga next to Nihonbashi Station in Tokyo.品揃えは結構あるけど、素人には目玉商品がよくわからない。滋賀の「これだ!」というもの。一見でわかるPOP広告やキャッチコピーが必要。英語版HPもおかしい。”The Shiga’s story”はおかしい…
2017-11-09 05:42:20 Funazushi-flavored potato chips will go on sale from Nov. 13 in the Kinki Region. They look like regular chips, but with a fishy taste.魚の味はするけど、鮒ずしではないな。守山市にあるモンレーブの「ふなずしパイ」の方がいい。CocoShigaで売って欲しい。話題性のある「甲賀コーラ」も。 
2017-11-15 03:27:06 Nakamura Haruto (34,中村治人), a child activity center instructor at Ikadachi Jido Club (伊香立児童クラブ) in Otsu, was arrested for using his smartphone to shoot upskirt video of a high school girl in a convenience store in Otsu on Oct. 14. He has admitted to the charges.
2017-11-15 03:27:18 During the nationwide test of the J-Alert nationwide disaster warning system on Oct. 14 at 11 am, Koka’s loudspeaker announcement did not work and Moriyama’s email warning system did not work. #Jアラート訓練2市で不具合
2017-11-15 23:31:21 Otsu-based painter Brian Williams will have an exhibition at Takashimaya Department Store (6th floor) in Kyoto during Nov. 22–28.
2017-11-17 10:47:29 The next NHK Nodo Jiman TV program (amateur singing contest) on Nov. 19 at 12:15 pm to 1 pm will be held at Takashima Shimin Kaikan hall in Imazu, Takashima. Hope to hear Shiga’s famous songs. I applied to join the audience, but didn’t get in. Too bad!
2017-11-17 10:52:24 Mt. Ibuki today. Dusted with the season’s first snow yesterday. 
2017-11-19 14:04:34 NHKのど自慢がよく今津に来てくれた。司会者が「琵琶県」と間違えて爆笑しました。一組(女子ペアの大学生)が「琵琶湖周航の歌」を歌ってよかった。思わず拍手。「今年は歌の百周年ですよ!」も言って欲しかったな。合格と思ったけどダメでした。皆さんお疲れ様でした。
2017-11-21 04:39:26 In Maibara today, fall colors are peaking earlier than usual during a cold November.
2017-11-26 08:13:14 中日新聞、ありがとうございました! 
2017-11-26 08:15:38 A new song monument to mark the 100th anniversary of Biwako Shuko no Uta (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) was unveiled at Kyoto University’s Yoshida-South Campus in Kyoto on Nov. 25, 2017. It’s in both Japanese and English. Watch this short video clip.「琵琶湖周航の歌」100周年記念碑除幕式
2017-11-28 02:31:56 Kyoto University Glee Club sang the 1st verse of Lake Biwa Rowing Song in English as part of the university’s celebration of Biwako Shuko no Uta’s 100th anniversary held at the university on Nov. 25, 2017. #京都大学グリークラブ #琵琶湖周航の歌百周年記念
2017-11-30 03:20:02 “Club Harie”を初めて聞いたとき,disco,スナック,高島市針江地区のジムとか思ったけど洋菓子屋でした。先日に彦根店の従業員にその名前の由来を聞いてみた。ClubとHarie(玻璃絵)の意味がわかったけど、なぜその社名にしたのか誰も知りませんでした。そのCaféのキッシュプレート(¥1080)は美味しかった。
2017-12-01 14:39:30 One wall (left in the photo) on Hikone Castle’s main tower was damaged by Typhoon No. 21 in Oct. The white plaster (shikkui漆喰) got soaked by horizontal rain and fell off. They can’t repair it until May since the new plaster cannot dry in the winter cold. It remains exposed. 
2017-12-03 14:08:55 Beautiful day today for Tarobogu Shrine’s annual Fire Festival in Higashi-Omi. It’s literally, “Holy smoke!” The smoke supposed to purify you for the new year. I really got smoked so I’m very pure. Firewalking (hi-watari) was fun too. I’m ready for 2018. #太郎坊宮お火焚大祭 
2017-12-04 14:36:31 Visited the old Biwako Hotel in Otsu. It’s now the Biwako Otsu-kan with a banquet hall, restaurant, and galleries. Larger-than-life building with great lake views. Built in 1934, it takes you back in time. Old photos of US Occupation forces using the hotel 1945–1957 are exhibited. 
2017-12-09 14:46:28 「琵琶湖周航の歌」はどう誕生したのか、オリジナルの朗読劇で披露された。2017年12月2日、滋賀県高島市今津町の今津東コミュニティセンターで「朗読劇団ムサシ」(森本純一代表)の6名のメンバーが披露しました。「針江よし笛の会」の生演奏も。その動画です:
2017-12-11 03:05:51 さすが彦根。この間は鶴瓶さん。そして先日の9日はNHK総合「ブラタモリ」。偶然か計画的か。または城の410周年のためか。近江さんも近江を訪れた。その名字の由来も聞きたかった。足軽屋敷の中も拝見できてよかった。色々面白くわかりました。再放送あり。
2017-12-11 14:45:53 Let’s pray that the tanuki (raccoon) mascot candidate for the Tokyo Paralympics will be selected. It would be great PR for Shiga, especially Shigaraki. Watch this official video that shows this mascot being born from Shigaraki tanuki.
2017-12-12 18:33:56 In Yasu, the copper roofing on two smaller shrines at Osasahara Jinja Shrine (大笹原神社) was found to be torn off and stolen on Dec. 8. Shrine members plan to replace the roofing before New Year’s. Copper prices have been rising and have become a target for thieves in the past.
2017-12-12 19:50:58 My foodie friend Yukari introduced funazushi on NHK World’s J-Trip program about sushi (starts at 18:40):
2017-12-13 20:36:21 CocoShiga is Shiga’s new antenna shop in Tokyo. My blog post here:
2017-12-15 15:06:53 Since 1977, for 41 years in a row in Dec., an anonymous person has again left bags of Omi rice at Hino Town Hall. Three 30-kg bags of rice were found at the entrance on the morning of Dec. 15. The town plans to give the rice to local nursing homes. No message was attached.
2017-12-15 15:18:13 National survey by Japan’s health ministry found that Shiga had Japan’s longest average life expectancy for men at 81.78 years as of 2015. For Shiga women, it was 87.57 years, the 8th longest in Japan and the longest in Kansai. Cancer was the leading cause of death in Japan.
2017-12-18 11:15:10 At Otsu District Court’s Hikone Branch today, former Kora Town Hall tax worker Kojima Takayasu (31) #小島崇靖 was convicted of embezzling ¥6 million from tax-paying residents. His 3-year jail sentence has been suspended for 5 years after his father paid the town ¥33 million.
2017-12-19 14:45:48 For the 4th time in Dec. 2017, copper roofing was stolen from a Shinto shrine in Shiga. On Dec. 19, copper roofing worth ¥20,000 on the Haiden hall of Taiho Jinja Shrine (大寶神社) in Hino was found to be torn off. Since June 2017, there have been 33 copper thefts in Shiga.
2017-12-20 15:38:00 私のTwitter followersは今まだ少ないですが、ほとんどのtweetは最低,数百件のアクセスがある.Shiga Blogのsidebarに自動的に表示されるので増えますが,たまに何千件のアクセスもある.例えば,12月1日の彦根城の漆喰の被害状況の写真は既に4千件以上のアクセス.なにが人気になるのか本当に予想できない.
2017-12-25 15:03:19 Faced with red ink (since mid-1990s) and aging rails and trains, Ohmi Railways is seeking serious talks with the five cities and towns it operates in to discuss its future. Either receive subsidies, replace train lines with buses, or create a joint venture with local governments.
2017-12-25 15:18:16 Age 25 math teacher at Hino High School fired (fined ¥700,000) for slandering a woman on social media and obscene acts with an underage girl. Also, a substitute teacher at Kamiteru Elementary School in Nagahama was fired (fined ¥500,000) for paid obscene acts w/age 16 girl in June.
2017-12-25 15:27:06 From Jan. to Nov. 2017, 88 arrests were made for crimes by foreigners in Shiga, including tourists, 19 more than the same period in 2016. 61 arrests were for shoplifting. Vietnamese were the largest group at 16 persons, followed by 10 Brazilians. No mention of Japanese arrests.
2017-12-25 15:57:56 After an invalid Nov. 26 referendum, the Yasu City Council has voted in favor of building a new municipal hospital (野洲市民病院) on the empty lot in front of JR Yasu Station’s South exit. Slated to open in 4 years to replace the current and aging Yasu Hospital in Koshinohara.
2017-12-25 16:07:22 To bring more tourists to western Shiga along the JR Kosei Line, a special express Haruka train will run from Kansai Airport to Omi-Imazu on Feb. 17, 2018 morning. It will be a special tour for 200 people to visit Ogoto Onsen and Imazu. Reservations being accepted until Jan. 31.
2017-12-25 16:22:54 In 2016, a record 50,767,300 tourists visited Shiga, a 5.9% increase over 2015 (+2.82 mil.) and the 1st time it exceeded 50 mil. 549,800 of them were foreigners, 74,000 (+15.6%) more than in 2015. However, lodging guests numbered only 3,777,300, a 1.5% decrease.
2017-12-25 16:28:27 In 2016, Shiga’s most popular tourist destinations were: 1. La Collina Omi-Hachiman (2.13 mil. visitors), 2. Kurokabe Glass Shop in Nagahama (1.97 mil. visitors), and 3. Taga Taisha Shrine (1.66 mil. visitors) in Taga.

Kyoto University’s Biwako Shuko no Uta 100th anniversary celebration

Unveiling the new song monument at Kyoto University. (記念碑除幕式)


After the epic 100th anniversary celebration of Biwako Shuko no Uta in Shiga with a Lake Biwa rowing trip and concert in June 2017, it was Kyoto University’s turn to celebrate. On November 25, 2017, they unveiled a new song monument on campus and held a lecture session, music festival, and party. It was an all-day affair from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. coinciding with the university’s annual school festival called “November Festival.”

Biwako Shuko no Uta (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) was created in June 1917 by rowing club members (especially Oguchi Taro) at an old elite university called Daisan Koto Gakko (No. 3 High School, nicknamed “Daisanko” or “Sanko” 三高) which merged with Kyoto University in 1949. Kyoto University has since adopted the legacy of Sanko by absorbing the Sanko campus (now the Yoshida-South Campus right across from the Main Campus), the rowing club, and adopting Biwako Shuko no Uta as one of the university’s official songs.

The Kyoto University Rowing Club (KURC) has a very active and dedicated alumni association called Noseikai (濃青会), which means “Dark Blue Association,” named after the rowing club’s official color of dark blue. (Their oar blades are dark blue.) This association spearheaded the planning and execution of the university’s celebration of the song’s 100th anniversary and also greatly helped with Shiga’s 100th anniversary song celebration in June 2017 which included a four-day rowing excursion around Lake Biwa by KURC alumni. They also helped to raise funds to build a new song monument on campus. Much of the fund-raising was done by the university’s water sports clubs (rowing, yachting, canoeing, and swimming).


I took photos and videos of Kyoto University’s celebration and compiled the highlights in a 66-min. video that includes English subtitles. The video includes excellent concert performances of Biwako Shuko no Uta and Lake Biwa Rowing Song by the Kyoto University Glee Club and Kyoto University Symphonic Band. There’s also flashback footage from the Lake Biwa rowing trip in June 2017.(京都大学「琵琶湖周航の歌」誕生百周年記念事業のダイジェスト版動画)

Video link:

Quick Links(動画早送りリンク)
Song monument unveiling(記念碑除幕式):

Lecture (Iida Tadayoshi)(講演会):

Hitsuji-gusa (Glee Club):

Nara no Miyako (Glee Club):

Introduction of Okaya and Niigata guests:

Lecture (English version 英語版):

Thompsons’ message:

Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Glee Club):

Lecture (Murai Yoshiko 資料館):

Music festival(音楽祭):

Biwako Shuko no Uta (Symphonic Band):

Speeches (Kawazoe Shinsuke, Koshi Naomi, Hiraoka Shoshichiro):

Sanko Alumni and Himawari Choir:

Mandolin Guitar Ensemble Kaguya:

What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor (Glee Club):

Biwako Shuko no Uta (Glee Club):

Biwako Shuko no Uta audience finale:



If you don’t have time to watch the video, you can continue reading to see photos instead. Links to the respective video footage are also provided below.

New Biwako Shuko no Uta song monument at Kyoto University
New song monument

Front side of the new Biwako Shuko no Uta song monument at Kyoto University.

Kyoto University’s 100th anniversary celebration of Biwako Shuko no Uta started with the unveiling of a new song monument on the Yoshida-South Campus (the former Sanko campus) at 11:00 a.m. on November 25, 2017. (Video here.) This campus is right across the road from the main campus (and main gate). (See map and directions below.) Built to commemorate the song’s 100th anniversary, the new song monument is a beautiful, double-sided, stainless-steel panel with a brushed-metal finish.

The front side has the Japanese lyrics (all six verses) overlaid on a recent photo of Kyoto University Rowing Club members rowing on Lake Biwa. The uncredited calligraphy of the Japanese lyrics on the song monument was done by Ichihara Atsushi (市原 厚), a KURC alumnus who has been publishing a kiri-e calendar for the song every year (sold at the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum in Imazu). The lower part has a Japanese explanation about the song and a photo of Oguchi Taro (right) who wrote the lyrics and Yoshida Chiaki (left) whose melody was used for the song. This is my English translation of the explanation(記念碑の表面の解説の英訳):

Daisan Koto Gakko (No. 3 High School) rowing club member Oguchi Taro left in June 1917 (Taisho 6) on a fixed-seat boat to row around Lake Biwa. On the second day on June 28, they stayed at a ryokan in Imazu.

That evening, he composed a draft of a rowing song that started with “Ware wa Umi no ko” (We’re children of the lake). They sang it to the melody of Hitsuji-gusa (Water Lilies), a popular song at the time composed by Yoshida Chiaki. The melody matched the song well and they sang it together.

The song was well received at student gatherings. This is how Biwako Shuko no Uta became a college dormitory song of Sanko (Daisan Koto Gakko).

Today, the song continues to be sung by the university’s rowing club when they row around Lake Biwa and by many people at Kyoto University and class reunions.

Also, as a song expressing affection for Lake Biwa, the song is lovingly sung by people in Shiga Prefecture and across Japan.

To mark the 100th anniversary of Biwako Shuko no Uta, we built this monument here.

Heisei 29 (2017)

From the late 19th century, dormitories at Japan’s elite universities started a tradition of creating their own “dormitory songs” to be performed at their annual dormitory festivals. Dormitory boarders sang the song together at dormitory festivals and student gatherings. While most of these songs fell into obscurity, some dormitory songs like Biwako Shuko no Uta continue to be sung.

Rear side of the song monument.

Rear side with rowing map and English lyrics. 地図と英語歌詞

The rear side of the song monument shows a bilingual Lake Biwa map of the rowing route taken by Oguchi and his rowing mates in June 1917 and my Lake Biwa Rowing Song English lyrics (all six verses).

Members of the KURC alumni association (Noseikai) initially proposed building this song monument for the song’s 100th anniversary. There were already song monuments in Shiga and Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, but none at Kyoto University. So they thought the university should also have a monument.

The university agreed to have the song monument on campus, but it required the monument to also include English lyrics. At first, the alumni association wondered where they could obtain English lyrics, but they soon found my English version of the song. They contacted me in 2016 and asked for my permission to use my English lyrics. I said, “YES, YES!! Please do so!!” “You can use it for free! No charge!!” And so they did.

Kyoto University has been pushing to become more international and more attractive for international students. So they wanted a monument that international students could also understand. I was very impressed to hear this. A song monument in Japan with both Japanese and English lyrics must be extremely rare. I haven’t seen one until now.

The current Kyoto University President is Yamagiwa Juichi who speaks English. He has traveled the world to study primates and gorillas as a way to learn more about early humans and their evolution. So he’s very internationally oriented. Having someone at the top with an international outlook helps a lot.

I’m certainly very honored and delighted to see my English lyrics on a monument. Monuments are usually built to point out something (or someone) that is important. So monuments naturally attract people’s attention. It’s important for a monument to be easy to read and in a good location where people can see it. This new monument meets both of these conditions.

It was the Verse 1 song monument in Mihogasaki, Otsu that first piqued the interest of Iida Tadayoshi, the foremost song researcher (since 1974) who has written a few books about Biwako Shuko no Uta. And I also first learned about the song when I saw a statue of composer Oguchi Taro and a song monument in Okaya, Nagano Prefecture. So song monuments can be very worthy to have. I wonder if there’s any other song in Japan that has this many monuments for it in three prefectures.

I’m very hopeful that this new monument will pique the interest of both Japanese and non-Japanese students in the song and in Shiga. I believe the song’s story, background, melody, and vivid depiction of Shiga can fascinate any young mind. The monument also has a QR code that you can scan with your mobile device to access the rowing club’s official 100th song anniversary website where you can learn more about the song and watch song videos in both Japanese and English.

Map and directions to new song monument

Here’s a map of the exact location of the new song monument (and the other song monuments). Zoom in on Kyoto. From JR Kyoto Station, get out the Karasuma exit (Kyoto Tower side) and go to Bus Stop D2 to board bus No. 206 bound for Kitaoji Bus Terminal. Get off at Kyodai Seimon-mae (京大正門前). The ride takes about 35 min. The main campus will be across the street from the bus stop, and the entrance to the Yoshida-South Campus is across the road facing the main campus.

Lecture Session (記念講演会) (Video here)

After the unveiling of the song monument, we had lunch and moved to the Kyoto University Clock Tower Centennial Hall for an hour-long Lecture Session (including performances by the Kyoto University Glee Club) starting at 12:30 pm.

Iida Tadayoshi

Song researcher Iida Tadayoshi appeared on video as the keynote speaker. 飯田忠義 「琵琶湖周航の歌」研究家、元NHKチーフアナウンサー

The main speaker was song researcher Iida Tadayoshi. He is the foremost authority on the song. A lot of what we know about the song and the composers is due to his research. He talked about how the song was created by Oguchi Taro and how the Hitsuji-gusa melody by Yoshida Chiaki was adapted to it.

Due to health reasons, Iida sensei was unable to appear in person so he appeared in a video lecture. Video here. After his lecture, the Kyoto University Glee Club sang Hitsuji-gusa (Verse 1) composed by Yoshida Chiaki and Nara no Miyako (Verse 1) which was the song whose melody Oguchi originally considered using for Biwako Shuko no Uta. Video here.

my talk

Video message from Jamie and Megan Thompson.

I was the second speaker, taking about 10 min. to mainly show slides of people who helped and encouraged me before and after I finished writing the English lyrics. Since Jamie and Megan Thompson (who sang Lake Biwa Rowing Song) could not make it to Japan in Nov., I showed a one-minute video message in Japanese from them. Video here.

After my talk, the Kyoto University Glee Club beautifully sang the first verse of Lake Biwa Rowing Song. (Video here.)


Murai Yoshiko talked about the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan.

The third and last speaker was Murai Yoshiko, the director of the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum in Imazu. She used slides to explain about the museum near JR Omi-Imazu Station and encouraged everyone to visit. Video here.

Music Festival (記念音楽祭) (Video here)

After a 30-min. break, the Music Festival (Ongakusai) started at 2:00 p.m. in the same Clock Tower Centennial Hall (capacity 500) as the Lecture Session. Part 1 had the Kyoto University Symphonic Band, Kyoto University Glee Club, Himawari Choir (from Otsu), and Mandolin Guitar Ensemble Kaguya perform or sing Biwako Shuko no Uta and a few other songs.

Part 2 featured a 40-min. talk show by singer Kato Tokiko. The finale had all the performers appear on stage to sing Biwako Shuko no Uta together with the entire audience. The finale was led by Kato Tokiko and the music festival ended at 4:30 pm.

Kyoto University Symphonic Band opened the music festival with Fanfare and played Biwako Shuko no Uta. 京都大学吹奏楽団 Video here.

Short congratulatory speeches were also given by three dignitaries:

Shinsuke Kawazoe, Kyoto University Executive Vice-President (substituting for Kyoto University President Juichi Yamagiwa). 川添信介 京都大学理事・副学長(山極壽一総長の代理)Video here.

Otsu Mayor

Otsu Mayor Koshi Naomi mentioned that Otsu City Hall plays the song to signal the end of the work day, resulting in a decrease of overtime by almost 30%. Video here.


Shoshichiro Hiraoka, Deputy Mayor of Takashima (substituting for Mayor Masaaki Fukui), promised to perpetuate the song to the next generation. Video here.

Sanko alumni sing with Himawari Choir from Otsu. 旧制第三高等学校OB + 大津市ひまわり合唱団 Video here.

Sanko alumni wave their school flag. The Sanko logo has a cherry blossom with three stripes.


Mandolin Guitar Ensemble Kaguya. マンドリンギターアンサンブル香久夜 Video here.


Mandolin Guitar Ensemble Kaguya. Great performance.

Kyoto University Glee Club sang What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor (video here) and Biwako Shuko no Uta (video here). 京都大学グリークラブ .

A short break after Part 1.


Led by Kato Tokiko, everyone sang Biwako Shuko no Uta in the end. Video here.


Singer Kato Tokiko and Kada Yukiko on stage during the finale.

Party (懇親会) (Video here)

After the music festival, attendees had the option to attend the party from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the 2nd floor of the Clock Tower Centennial Hall. This was when we could finally mix and socialize. It was nice meeting and talking with people from Oguchi Taro’s hometown and Yoshida Chiaki’s hometown and rowing club alumni. Very few women though.

Kada Yukiko gave a short speech at the start of the party.


Yacht Club showed slides of KURC’s original boat house in Otsu.


Kyoto University Rowing Club alumni. These three tall men almost represented Japan at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.


In the end, everyone sang the song with Mandolin Guitar Ensemble Kaguya.


Noseikai chairman Yoshida Tamotsu gave closing remarks. “Nothing made me happier than rowing…” 吉田 保 京都大学ボート部濃青会 会長

The celebrations of Biwako Shuko no Uta’s 100th anniversary in Shiga and Kyoto were quite spectacular. It has spread awareness of the song as a precious hometown asset. Shiga has so few famous hometown songs, and even its most famous one is in danger of being forgotten since it’s not really taught in schools.

Where I come from, there are many, many beloved Hawaiian songs (and dances) that continue to be sung for generations. I cannot imagine growing up in a place that lacks popular hometown songs. It shapes your identity and affinity with your hometown. It would be a major cultural loss if Shiga allowed Biwako Shuko no Uta to fall into obscurity. It is by far Shiga’s most nationally famous song.

It’s comforting to see more people singing the song in Japanese or English. They are posting on YouTube. Anyone is welcome to sing the song in Japanese or English. I still wish John Denver lived long enough to record it. His voice matches the song extremely well.

Thank you to everyone who made the 100th anniversary celebration a great success.


Related video:

Related links:

感 謝

山極 壽一 総長
川添 信介 理事・副学長
中村 佳正 京都大学ボート部長
京都大学ボート部 濃青会
吉田 保 京都大学ボート部濃青会会長
伊藤 七郎


小島 安紀子
尾城 徹雄
青野 正治




琵琶湖周航の歌資料館 全スタッフ(2004年以来)
澤田 浩(琵琶湖周航の歌資料館 元館長)
村井 佳子(琵琶湖周航の歌資料館 館長)

故 前田典夫(みちお)

嘉田 由紀子(代表)
加藤 登紀子
小坂 育子
北川 陽大(〜Lefa〜)

飯田 忠義

Naoko Nakamura
吉田ゆき (新潟)



Jamie & Megan Thompson
日永 真梨子
菊井 了・近藤 ゆみ子(レイクリード)
Chikage Fujii(滋賀県湖南市)



CocoShiga in Tokyo

CocoShiga in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.

Updated: May 4, 2018

Shiga Prefecture finally has a true and full-fledged “antenna shop” in Tokyo named “CocoShiga” (ここ滋賀). It opened on October 29, 2017 in the Nihonbashi district. People in Tokyo can now buy food, sake, crafts, and souvenirs from Shiga more than ever before. We can also have a drink at the bar and dine at the small, upscale restaurant upstairs.

CocoShiga is right outside Nihombashi Station (Exit B8) on the Tozai, Ginza, and Toei Asakusa subway lines. It’s also a short walk from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu or Nihonbashi Exit, and Takashimaya Dept. Store is nearby on the same road (Chuo-dori) that goes to Nihonbashi Bridge. (Address: 東京都中央区日本橋2-7-1 or see map below.)

CocoShiga is in its own little building on a corner of the main Nihonbashi intersection (Chuo-dori and Eitai-dori roads). The first floor has a shop named “Market” (open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) selling about 1,000 different Shiga products (mostly food and sake from 33 sake breweries), a bar (strangely named “Shiga’s Bar“) where you can try Shiga sake 10 a.m.–11 p.m., and tourist pamphlets from Shiga. The floor space is not huge, but big enough.

The second floor is an upscale restaurant named “Nihonbashi Jinomi” open for lunch (11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.) and dinner (6 p.m.–11 p.m.). It serves Lake Biwa fish like funazushi (fermented Lake Biwa carp) and Biwa salmon as well as Omi beef. Dinner courses cost ¥5,000 and ¥8,500. The third floor is an open-roof Terrace with parasol tables. CocoShiga is open every day of the year except Dec. 31 to Jan. 3.

CocoShiga 1st floor shop.

CocoShiga’s 1st floor shop also converts into an event space.

Funazushi and Omi beef.

Funazushi fermented carp and shijimi clams in the refrigerator.

Shiga's Bar for sake.

Shiga’s Bar for mainly sake.

Lots of sake from Shiga.

Good variety of sake from Shiga.

Jinomi restaurant on 2nd floor.

Terrace on the 3rd floor.

Open-roof Terrace on the 3rd floor where you can consume what you purchased. It might be too cold in winter and too hot in summer though.

Nihonbashi has historically been Tokyo’s district for textile wholesalers and trading companies. Shiga has had close ties with Nihonbashi ever since Omi shonin merchants from Shiga opened shop here during the Edo Period to sell fabrics made in Shiga. The most famous Shiga clothing store in Nihonbashi was Shirokiya (白木屋) opened by Nagahama-born Omura Hikotaro I (大村 彦太郎) in 1662 on the site across the street from CocoShiga. (This was even before the Mitsui family opened the store that would become Mitsukoshi Dept. Store in Nihonbashi.) It was absorbed by Tokyu Dept. Store in 1958 which eventually closed this flagship store in 1999 where the huge COREDO Nihonbashi shopping complex took its place.

Although sadly Shirokiya no longer exists in Japan (only an offshoot store in Honolulu, Hawaii remains), Nihonbashi still has a good number of businesses originally from Shiga. Shiga Bank’s Tokyo branch is still in Nihonbashi and the Shiga Kenjinkai national headquarters is in Nihonbashi. Itochu’s Tokyo office was also in Nihonbashi for many years. So for Shiga, I agree that Nihonbashi is the ideal Tokyo location for CocoShiga. (Not to be confused with Nipponbashi in Osaka.)

Of course, Nihonbashi is most famous for its namesake Nihonbashi Bridge which was the starting point of the old Tokaido Road and Nakasendo Road both of which go through Shiga before reaching Kyoto. Nihonbashi thus became Japan’s most famous bridge (originally a wooden bridge) and Nihonbashi was destined to become one of Japan’s most famous places. The bridge is a very short walk from CocoShiga. In the old days, the road in front of CocoShiga went directly to Shiga along the Tokaido Road.

Needless to say, Nihonbashi is a high-rent district and CocoShiga is sitting on one of Tokyo’s prime locations next to a subway station. CocoShiga’s rent has been reported to be a whopping ¥8.6 million per month. That’s about ¥286,666 per day, not including personnel costs. CocoShiga is a five-year project by Shiga Prefecture which is investing over ¥1.3 billion. In return, they are expecting ¥252 million worth of PR and inbound tourism to Shiga during the five years. Shiga is finally shooting for the big time with CocoShiga. I don’t know what’s going to happen after five years though. Whether they will renew the lease or move or shut down. For now, please help Shiga recoup its investment by buying stuff from CocoShiga whenever you’re in town.

CocoShiga is a huge leap over its previous incarnation called “Yume Plaza Shiga” (“yume” means “dream”) in Yurakucho. Yume Plaza was Shiga’s tourist information office and small gift shop in the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan building next to Yurakucho Station (one stop from Tokyo Station). This large office building still has a few other antenna shops like from Hokkaido, Akita, and Nagano Prefectures. The problem was, Shiga’s Yume Plaza was on the second floor where there was little foot traffic. Meanwhile, Hokkaido’s large Dosanko store on the ground floor facing the main road and Yurakucho Station was always packed with people. The ground floor saw heavy foot traffic while few customers bothered to go upstairs.

The Yume Plaza antenna shop was just a small room where they sold a few trinkets and non-perishable food. It was more a tourist information office than a shop. I never took my friends there. It was too embarrassing.

Also, for many years, they were closed on weekends just when people in Tokyo have free time to go shopping or plan trips. It certainly didn’t make sense to be closed on weekends. But they later managed to stay open on weekends. The atmosphere was lax and the former Biwako Visitors Bureau Tokyo Office Manager (Ito Masahiro, 60, 伊藤雅博) who worked there was charged in July 2017 with falsifying & pocketing ¥1.24 million in travel expenses. Such shocking news.

Chabara in Akihabara.

Chabara in Akihabara.

Shiga section in Chabara.

Shiga section in Chabara.

We were all well aware of Shiga’s Yume Plaza shortcomings. But we got some relief in Sept. 2015 when a small mall called “Chabara” (Nippon Hyakkaten Shokuhinkan) under the train tracks next to Akihabara Station opened. Chabara is a store with shelf space for many prefectures including Shiga. People in Tokyo could finally buy funazushi, Omi beef, sake, Omi rice, confections, and more year-round. The Shiga section in Chabara is still open and I noticed many of the products are also found in CocoShiga.

Then on March 21, 2016, Nagahama boldly opened its own little museum in Ueno, Tokyo called “Biwako Nagahama Kannon House” (びわ湖長浜 KANNON HOUSE). It exhibits one precious kannon Buddha statue (Goddess of Mercy) brought over from Nagahama which has many kannon statues and temples. Small and beautiful museum to connect with Shiga culture, but they don’t sell Nagahama merchandise. One thing CocoShiga is missing is an exhibition space.

When it was announced that Shiga was planning to open a large antenna shop in Nihonbashi, it was very exciting news. It was hard to believe, after all these years of obscurity when other prefectures were already operating high-traffic antenna shops in prime locations in Tokyo. Shiga’s dinky and barren outpost in Tokyo lagged so far behind. Now it has leapfrogged to Nihonbashi.

Store sign above the front entrance (no English).

CocoShiga logo above the front entrance. On the left is the shape of Lake Biwa. But there’s no English.

“CocoShiga” (ここ滋賀) literally means “Here’s Shiga” and has nothing to do with hot chocolate (cocoa) or coconuts. Although in Japanese it’s short and easy to remember, it’s not very original and not easily understandable by foreign tourists whom CocoShiga is also targeting (think 2020 Tokyo Olympics).

The Japanese word “Coco” (koko ここ) meaning “here” has become a popular prefix in business names. In Shiga, we already have Kokocool (online shop in Shiga) and Kocopia (roadside station in Konan). Outside Shiga, there is kokoka (Kyoto International Community House), Coco Miyagi (Miyagi Prefecture’s antenna shop in Tokyo), and Nagoya-based convenience store chain Cocostore before it was recently bought out by a rival chain. Perhaps the most famous “Coco” in Japan is the Coco Ichibanya curry restaurant chain (eight branches in Shiga). So please Shiga, let’s not have any more “Coco” names. It’s like “Yume” (dream), “Dream,” “Rainbow,” and “something-pia” (as in Utopia) which are popular and unoriginal names across Japan as well.

Other problematic English names are “Shiga’s Bar,” Shiga’s Concierge,” and “Shiga’s Guide” in CocoShiga. CocoShiga’s bar, concierge, and guide do not belong to any person named “Shiga.” They are just a mistranslation of the Japanese. In English, it came out as a possessive which does not reflect the intended meaning. Their monthly magazine “Shiga’s Guide” has columns named “Shiga’s People,” “Shiga’s Map,” “The Shiga’s Story,” and “Shiga’s Trip Guide” recommending what you can do on “Days 1” and “Days 2.” Somebody really loves the apostrophe “s”. (But why no “Shiga’s Market” and “Shiga’s Restaurant”?) Oh well, so much for correct English in Shiga. Let’s hope the English-learning kids won’t pick it up.

Preparing rice balls made of Omi rice at Shiga’s Bar.


Still no English menus in the 2nd floor restaurant.

Restaurant’s vegetable salad and most food served on Shigaraki pottery.

Tourist brochures.

Shiga tourist brochures (no English) at CocoShiga.

As you may have guessed by now, antenna shops in Japan do not sell antennas. They sell food, crafts, and souvenirs from a prefecture, municipality, or company. Prefectural antenna shops also provide tourist information and may include a restaurant. Many Japanese prefectures have an antenna shop in central Tokyo to promote their products (mainly food) and inbound tourism. They supposed to be feeler (like insect antennae) or feedback shops to gauge what products are popular.

Prefectural antenna shops are an outgrowth of prefectural tourist information offices in Tokyo. Once upon a time, most of the prefectural tourist information offices were conveniently concentrated in a building right next to Tokyo Station. This made it easy to pick up tourist brochures before hopping on your train to the prefecture. Some of them, like Okinawa’s huge Washita Shop in Ginza, had enough space to sell their prefectural products.

However, the convenient building next to Tokyo Station (Yaesu side) that housed these prefectural tourist information offices was eventually torn down as part of the station’s redevelopment. Those prefectural tourist information offices moved out and scattered around in Tokyo. Many remained near Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station (especially inside the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan building which also housed the Japan National Tourist Organization). It then became quite inconvenient to pick up tourist brochures from multiple prefectures, but the Internet changed all that when much tourist information went online. So now, having a shop to sell physical goods (especially food) became more important than having a tourist information office for the public.

Reed decoration on the 1st floor ceiling.

Reed decoration on the 1st floor ceiling.

Have to look closely to see what's what.

Have to look closely to see what’s what.

Even with Chabara and CocoShiga or any store selling Shiga merchandise, they can never stock everything that Shiga has to offer. Even though CocoShiga’s 1,000 different products sounds impressive, they still don’t have things that I want to buy (mainly as gifts for friends). Like the hilarious “Koka Cola” from Koka (I hope it’s not a trademark infringement), Funazushi Pie cookies from Moriyama, more Adoberry confections from Takashima, Omi-jofu fabrics, more Shigaraki ware, and Lake Biwa pearls. The shop is not big enough to have everything.

If you enter CocoShiga without knowing anything about Shiga, it might be difficult to figure out what the most popular Shiga products are. There are a few signs explaining about funazushi, etc., in Japanese, but they are too small. Of course, nothing is in English. You would think that with an investment of over 1,300,000,000 yen, they would have some money for foreign language translations in Japan’s most international city. But apparently not.

Shiga businesses who want to sell their products at CocoShiga have to undergo a product screening. Not all businesses applied to sell at CocoShiga and not all products passed the screening. So we only see a small sample of Shiga products. But CocoShiga plans to change or rotate the product lineup every season so we may see more different products later.

CocoShiga is being managed by Tokyo-based company UDS Ltd. They have a branch office in Omi-Hachiman and have experience in the hospitality industry, managing a few hotels and restaurants. They seem to be well-qualified to run CocoShiga, but the staff are not from Shiga. The General Manager is from Okinawa. Being newbies to Shiga, the staff visited Shiga multiple times over a year to learn about the products CocoShiga would be selling. There are positive things about hiring outsiders since they can perceive things Shiga people might not be able to. But you can’t talk to them about home in Shiga, like at the bar while drinking or in the restaurant. For Shiga travel inquiries (“Concierge”), I believe they have staff from Shiga in the back office.

CocoShiga had a grand opening on Oct. 29, 2017 just when a typhoon hit Tokyo. The tape-cutting was done by Shiga Governor Mikazuki, noted journalist Tahara Soichiro from Hikone, and pop singer Nishikawa Takanori (T.M.Revolution) who is from Yasu and a Shiga tourism ambassador. Hiko-nyan was there too. About 2,300 customers came on the opening day, lining up in the rain. Many had to wait two hours to get in.

In mid-Dec. 2017, CocoShiga announced that they saw 100,000 customers after a little over a month in business. That’s about 2,300 customers a day. So far, so good (except for the English).

CocoShiga website

Autumn festivals and foliage November 2017 in Shiga Prefecture

Recommended festivals (matsuri), events, exhibitions, and fall leaves in Shiga Prefecture in November–December 2017. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.)

Compiled by Philbert Ono. Updated: Nov. 8, 2017

Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade

Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade

November 3, 2017
♦ Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade, Hikone Castle, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Very elaborate costume parade of mainly kids dressed as samurai and Edo-Period ladies. Highlights include the Hikone Gun Battalion giving a matchlock gun demo (in front of Horse Stable), Ii Naosuke played by an actor on horseback, fireman acrobatics, and Sarugaku dancers. The parade route starts from Joto Elementary School and proceeds along the road to the castle and passes in front of the Umaya Horse Stable. Video here. Short walk from JR Hikone Station. Map | Video | Photos



November 18th-27th, 2017
Koto Sanzan Temple Trio autumn foliage, Kora, Aisho, and Higashi-Omi
Koto Sanzan (湖東三山) is a trio of large Tendai Buddhist temples famous for autumn leaves in eastern Shiga. They are Saimyoji (西明寺) in Kora, Kongorinji (金剛輪寺) in Aisho, and Hyakusaiji (百済寺) in Higashi-Omi (see map below). They are also famous for structures that are National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties.

During the autumn foliage period, convenient shuttle buses (Koto Sanzan Shuttle Bus) run every day between Hikone Station and these three temples. For more details and the shuttle bus schedule in English, click here.



November 4th-26th, 2017
Eigenji Temple Autumn Foliage and Light-up, Higashi-Omi, 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm for light-up
Although this temple is not one of the Koto Sanzan Temple Trio, it’s also famous for autumn leaves with 3,000 maple trees. Along with Saimyoji, Eigenji is also one of Japan’s 100 Grand Autumn Foliage Sites. Established in 1361, Eigenji belongs to the Zen Rinzai Buddhist Sect (Eigenji School). Since it’s a different sect, Eigenji is not a member of the Koto Sanzan trio of Tendai Sect temples. Impressive during the day, but also beautiful at night when the leaves are illuminated along with the walking paths. Admission 500 yen.

From Ohmi Railways Yokaichi Station, go to Bus stop 1 and take the bus going to Eigenji Shako (永源寺車庫) and get off at Eigenji-mae (永源寺前). Takes about 35 min. Bus schedule from Yokaichi Station on weekdays | Saturday | Sunday. Note that from Eigenji-mae, the last bus for Yokaichi Station leaves at 7:26 pm on Sat./Sun. and 8:27 pm on weekdays. Map
永源寺 ライトアップ


Zensuiji and maples.

November 16–December 3, 2017
♦ Konan Sanzan Temple Trio Autumn Tour, Konan, all day
Not to be confused with Koto Sanzan, Konan Sanzan is a trio of Tendai Buddhist temples in the city of Konan. A small city like Konan is lucky to have as many as four National-Treasure structures at the three Konan Sanzan temples. Like Koto Sanzan, Konan Sanzan temples are also noted for autumn leaves. During this period, a convenient shuttle bus plies between the temples and train stations.

The temples are Jorakuji (常楽寺), Chojuji (長寿寺), and Zensuiji (善水時). Jorakuji has not one, but two buildings that are National Treasures: the Hondo main hall and three-story pagoda. Chojuji means, “Long Life Temple,” and its small, but distinctive Hondo hall is a National Treasure. Zensuiji has the largest and most impressive Hondo hall (National Treasure) bearing elegant roof lines. Not to be missed by architectural buffs. The three temples are all in quiet, rural neighborhoods.

One thing you have to understand is that two of the temples (Jorakuji and Chojuji) are on one side of the train tracks and the third temple (Zensuiji) is farther away on the other side of the tracks. So there are two separate bus routes going to the three temples and there’s a train ride between Jorakuji/Chojuji and Zensuiji.

The Konan Community bus called Meguri-kun runs from JR Ishibe Station (JR Kusatsu Line) to Jorakuji and Chojuji once an hour from 8:24 am to 3:45 pm. From Jorakuji, you can take the bus to Chojuji. From Chojuji, take the bus back to JR Ishibe Station and catch the train to JR Kosei Station one stop away. From JR Kosei Station, take the bus to Zensuiji (get off at the “Iwane” stop). The last bus leaves Zensuiji (Iwane) at 5:16 pm for JR Kosei Station. You can also tour the temples in reverse order, starting with Zensuiji. In the morning, buses leave JR Kosei Station (north exit kita-guchi) for Zensuiji at 8:28 am, 9:25 am, 10:15 am, 12:20 pm, 1:45 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:50 pm (except on weekends and holidays). Bus fare is ¥250 per ride for adults. ¥130 for kids.
Bus schedule in Japanese | Map

Hiyoshi Taisha torii lit up in autumn.

November 11th–26th, 2017, 5 pm–8:30 pm
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine Maple Festival Light-up, Otsu
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine at the foot of Mt. Hie in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture is the head shrine for all Hiyoshi, Hie, and Sanno Shrines in Japan (around 2,000). The spacious grounds includes two shrines that are National Treasures and 3,000 maple trees lit up at night 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm during this period. Even the green leaves look great against the dark sky. Highly recommended if you’re in that part of the city. Near Hiezan Sakamoto Station on the JR Kosei Line and Keihan Line’s Sakamoto Station. Map | Photos



November 18–December 3, 2017
Ishiyama-dera Temple Autumn Foliage Light-up
, Otsu, 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm (enter by 8:30 pm)
Founded in 749, Ishiyama-dera, belonging to the Shingon Buddhist Sect, is the 13th Temple of the Saigoku Pilgrimage. The temple is noted for National Treasure architecture, cherry blossoms, and fall leaves. The maples are nice even during the day, but the evenings will include LED lights. Mini-concerts on weekends at 6:30 p.m. Map
三井寺 秋のライトアップ

November 17th-26th, 2017
Miidera Temple Autumn Foliage Light-up
, Otsu, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm (enter by 8:30 pm)
Established in the 7th century, Miidera temple, or Onjoji, is one of Otsu’s major temples and one of Japan’s four largest temples. It is the headquarters temple of the Tendai Jimon Buddhist Sect and former rival of Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei. It is a complex of numerous structures including National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. The temple bell is famous for being one of the Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi) depicted in ukiyoe prints. During this period, the temple’s three-story pagoda will also be open to the public. Map
三井寺 秋のライトアップ

Hyozu Taisha

Hyozu Taisha garden

November 17th-26th, 2017
Hyozu Taisha Shrine Garden Autumn Foliage Light-up, Yasu, 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm (until 9 pm on weekends and holidays)
Established in 717 (Nara Period), Hyozu Taisha Shrine has a noted Japanese garden with a pond ringed by small rolling hills and autumn leaves. The fall leaves certainly look colorful and impressive when illuminated in the evenings and reflected in the pond. Events and merchandise booths will be held on weekends.

A short bus ride from JR Yasu Station’s North Exit (Kita-guchi). Take the Yoshikawa Line (going to Nishi Kawahara 2-chome 西河原2丁目 or Ayame-hama あやめ浜) and get off at Hyozu Taisha 兵主大社. Buses are infrequent (schedule here). The last bus leaving Hyozu Taisha for Yasu Station leaves around 9:02 pm on weekdays and around 7:17 pm on Sat./Sun. Or take a taxi (costing about 2,000 yen from Yasu Station). Map


Genkyuen autumn foliage light-up.

November 18–December 3, 2017
Genkyuen Garden Autumn Foliage Light-up, Hikone, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm (enter by 8:30 pm)
Adjacent to Hikone Castle, Genkyuen was built as a castle garden in 1677 by Ii Naooki, the fourth lord of Hikone Castle. I would call this Shiga’s best place to view autumn foliage illumination. The pond’s reflection of the colorful autumn leaves at night doubles the impact. Hikone Castle in the background is also lit up for a perfect night scene. Reminds me of a master painter using a black canvas. Admission ¥700 (¥350 for jr high and younger). Short walk from JR Hikone Station. Map

November 18–December 10, 2017, 5:30 pm–8 pm (enter by 7:30 pm)
Kyorinbo Garden Autumn Foliage Light-up, Azuchi, Omi-Hachiman
Beautiful Japanese garden designed by Kobori Enshu. Part of a temple at the foot of Mt. Kinugasa. Autumn foliage at night is reputed to be most beautiful. Of course, you can also go during the day. Tripods/monopods and food are not allowed. No photography inside the buildings. The garden is usually open only on weekends and holidays, but it will be open every day during Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Admission 500 yen (200 yen for jr high and younger). From JR Azuchi Station, take a taxi for 10-min. ride. Google Map
石の寺 教林坊 紅葉ライトアップ


Toyosato Elementary School (Image:

November 25–December 27, 2017, Sunset–10 pm
♦ Former Toyosato Elementary School Evening Illumination, Toyosato
Pretty outdoor and building illumination in the evening. Christmas illumination during Dec. 16th–27th. Designed by William Merrell Vories the school has become nationally famous as the backdrop for the popular K-ON! anime/manga series. For groups of four or more, guided tours of the old school are provided for a fee.



October 1–December 10, 2017, 9 am–4 pm (until 3:30 pm in Dec.)
Enryakuji Shaka-do Hall Hidden Buddha Display, Otsu
In the Saito complex of Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei, the Shaka-do main temple hall will open its doors to reveal its principal object of worship, a seated Buddha (Shaka Nyorai). The Buddha revealed to the public only once every 33 years. Visitors can also see the hall’s naijin altar area.

December 2nd–3rd, 2017, 6:30 am
Hot Air Balloon Over Lake Biwa, Takashima, early morning
Dramatic sight of hot-air balloons crossing Lake Biwa. They start off very early in the morning at Omi-Shirahama Beach so you would have stay near this beach in Takashima. The balloons aim to land in Notogawa in Higashi-Omi across the lake. Note that weather conditions can cancel the event.

Date and venue to be confirmed. 
♦ Tonda Ningyo Puppet Show, Nagahama, 1:30 pm
The famous Tonda puppet troupe will perform three acts. Admission 1,200 yen at the door.
At JR Nagahama Station, go to Bus stop 1 and take the bus at 12:27 pm going to Nagahama Shiyakusho Azai-shisho-mae (長浜市役所浅井支所前) and get off at Biwa Shisho-mae (びわ支所前). Takes about 20 min. Only three buses go there on Sunday. Or take a taxi if you’re rich or going with friends. Google Map

Tarobogu Shrine Fire Festival

Tarobogu Shrine Fire Festival

December 3, 2017
♦ Tarobogu Shrine Fire Festival, Higashi-Omi, Noon – 4:00 pm
Held annually on the first Sunday of December, the Tarobo Shrine Fire Festival burns a big pile of 100,000 wooden prayer tablets called goma (護摩) collected from believers all over Japan. The tablet is written with the believer’s name, address, and prayer wish. The fire burns as a prayer for family health and safety. After the fire settles down, barefoot priests walk over the hot ashes. Very dramatic festival (photo here).
Short walk from Ohmi Railways Tarobogu-mae Station. Map

For art and museum exhibitions in Shiga, see Kansai Art Beat’s exhibition schedule for Shiga museums.

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