Hayazaki (Hayasaki) Naiko Biotope

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I recently visited Hayazaki Naiko Biotope 早崎内湖ビオトープ in Nagahama and talked with a local NPO taking care of it. Hayazaki (Hayasaki) Naiko was a small lake or lagoon north of Oku-Biwa Sports no Mori. In 1970, it was reclaimed (filled in) and turned into rice paddies. About half of Biwako’s naiko (attached lakes) were reclaimed right after the war to increase rice production.

However, we now have enough rice, and the rice paddies at Hayasaki Naiko are very hard to farm due to the water level being lower than Biwako. The farmers have problems finding a successor and the old water drainage pump is too expensive to replace. Shiga Prefecture then proposed to restore the paddy land into a naiko again. As an experiment, Shiga Prefecture flooded about one-fourth of the land to create a wetland or small lake. This was in 2001. Today, the flooded area is full of nature, with fish, reeds, and birds. It’s a very successful ecological experiment.

So they want to buy all the land and flood all of it to restore Hayasaki naiko. But Shiga does not have much money and the land prices are high. So it is still an ongoing ecological experiment. A local NPO conducts tours for kids and adults. Winter would be a good time to visit, when the swans, etc., are there. But spring-summer is good too since it’s warm enough to go into the water.

This nature restoration project 自然再生 is actually quite famous among environmental researchers and groups in Japan and overseas. It’s also about environmental sociology 環境社会学, about how people co-exist and live in the natural environment. Biwako is unique to have so many naiko attached lakes. It’s too bad that many of them were buried. They were actually essential for Biwako’s ecology. The naiko’s reeds, etc., kept the water clean and allowed fish and birds to breed. Google Map


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Shiga History 2007

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-December 2007. Compiled by Philbert Ono.

Hikone Castle 400th Anniversary

Hikone Castle 400th Anniversary

March 21, 2007: Hikone Castle celebrates its 400th anniversary with an 8-month-long festival lasting until Nov. 25, 2007. Three castle structures (Umaya horse stable, Tenbin Yagura turret, and Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret), normally closed to the public, are open to the public during the festival period. Official mascot Hiko-nyan (a helmeted cat) soon becomes nationally popular.

May 5, 2007: At the Expoland amusement park in Suita, Osaka, the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster derails, killing Yoshino Kogawara, 19, from Higashiomi, Shiga Prefecture. Nineteen others are injured.

June 16, 2007: The English version of Shiga’s most famous song, Biwako Shuko no Uta, called Lake Biwa Rowing Song, is issued on CD sold by the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan museum in Imazu.
Sept. 6, 2007: Shiga’s very first pro sports team, the Shiga LakeStars, was approved to join the bj League, Japan’s fledging pro basketball league. The LakeStars will start playing from the fall 2008-2009 season.

Oct. 11, 2007: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Japanese government against an Osaka High Court ruling which deemed illegal the Eigenji No. 2 Dam construction project in Higashi-Omi, Shiga Prefecture. Local residents of Eigenji had filed a lawsuit claiming that the Eigenji No. 2 Dam project was unnecessary and seriously flawed. The residents’ claims were supported by the Osaka High Court. The government then appealed to the Supreme Court unsuccessfully. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry now must revise its plans from scratch.

Oct. 28, 2007: During a meeting 新駅設置促進協議会 in Otsu between Governor Kada Yukiko and the mayors and local assembly members of Ritto and neighboring cities, the Governor announces that the project to build a new shinkansen train station in Ritto is officially cancelled. The governor reiterated that her election in 2006 reflected the will of the people who were against the shinkansen station which would have cost Shiga and Ritto 24,000,000,000 yen. The mayor of Ritto, who had pushed hard for this new station, expresses great regret. The cancellation makes national headlines.

Nov. 10-11, 2007: 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 is held in Otsu with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in attendance on the 11th for the formal ceremony held at Biwako Hall. The Emperor gives a speech saying that “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. The blue gill has multiplied rapidly in Lake Biwa from the 1990s and eats the baby fish of native lake fish. After the ceremony, the Emperor and Empress release baby fish of native lake fish into the lake. The Hama-Otsu area also serves as a venue for the public to become more aware of fisheries in Lake Biwa.

Nov. 10-13, 2007: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit Shiga for the first time in 13 years. On the first day, they visit a nursing home called Care Town Karasaki. 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. On the second day the 11th, they attended the Zenkoku Yutaka na Umizukuri Taikai and afterward took a boat ride to 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.

Nov. 25, 2007: The 400th anniversary festival for Hikone Castle ends with a total attendance of 764,484 during the period of March 21 to Nov. 25. This far exceeded the break-even attendance of 550,000. They spent an estimated 17 billion yen or an average of 5,200 yen per person who came on a day trip and 23,300 yen per person who lodged in Hikone. Ten percent of the amount were spent on Hiko-nyan merchandise.

Dec. 27, 2007: A second meeting between the mayors of the six northern towns of Torahime-cho, Kohoku-cho, Takatsuki-cho, Kinomoto-cho, Yogo-cho, and Nishi-Azai-cho and the mayor of Nagahama meet at Takatsuki Town Hall to discuss the proposal to merge the six towns and Nagahama. The neighboring city of Maibara is also cited as a candidate to join the municipal merger. The mayors formally agreed to clearly call their meetings for the purpose of merging, instead of making it vague (広域でのまちづくり協議) as they did at their first meeting in the summer in Nagahama. The next day, they went to the Prefectural capital to request their support.

Dec. 27, 2007: At the Otsu District Court, a court settlement was reached between a citizen’s group and the town of Toyosato over the preservation of Toyosato Elementary School’s old school building designed by William Vories in 1937 and the funding of the construction of the new school building. The citizen’s group sought to have former town mayor Ono Wasaburo return the over 1.8 billion yen spent to build the new school building since the money was appropriated without obtaining the approval of the town assembly. Both sides agreed to the court’s proposal that the former mayor express his “reflection” concerning his deeds, and the construction company, which built the new school building, to donate about 20 million yen to the town to help preserve the old school building. The old school is slated to become a cultural facility. This concludes the five-year court battle.

Click here for Shiga History 2008

Shiga History 2006

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-December 2006. Compiled by Philbert Ono.

Kada Yukiko campaign poster in 2006

Kada Yukiko campaign poster in 2006

January 1, 2006: Notogawa-cho and Gamo-cho towns merge with Higashi-Omi.

January 8, 2006: NHK starts broadcasting its year-long “Taiga Drama” TV series called “Komyo ga Tsuji” featuring Shiga as the background in major parts of the period drama.

February 13, 2006: Neighboring towns Azai-cho and Biwa-cho merge with Nagahama.

February 17, 2006: Two kindergarten children, a boy and a girl, are stabbed to death numerous times in Nagahama by a 34-year-old Chinese housewife, Zheng Yongshan (鄭永善) (Japanese name Taniguchi Mie), as she was driving them (and her own 5-year-old daughter who was unhurt) to a kindergarten (神照幼稚園). She threw both bodies out of the car near the road. The shocking murder grabbed national headlines. She was arrested the same day and received a sentence of life imprisonment upheld by the Osaka High Court in Feb. 2009.

March 20, 2006: Shiga-cho in Shiga-gun merges with Otsu. Shiga-gun was thereby dissolved.

May 23, 2006: The committee promoting the construction of a new shinkansen bullet train station in Ritto decides on the name of the new station: Minami-Biwako Station (南びわ湖駅). Construction of the new station also begins in May (later halted in July upon the election of Kada Yukiko who opposed the construction).

July 2, 2006: Shiga elects a new governor and its first woman governor in Kada Yukiko (嘉田由紀子)who ran on a campaign slogan called “Mottainai” (It’s wasteful) in reference to the proposed construction of a new shinkansen bullet train station in Ritto, Shiga. Born in 1950, she is Japan’s fifth woman governor, beating two-term incumbent Kunimatsu Yoshitsugu (国松善次)against all odds as an independent candidate.

Sept. 20, 2006: The mayor of Yogo-cho town, Hatano Sakuro (畑野 佐久郎), again announces that he wants to accept highly radioactive nuclear waste for final disposal in Yogo. (No other municipality in Japan has agreed to accept the nuclear waste.) The large amount of money the town would receive for studies conducted for the disposal site would greatly help the cash-strapped town which forecasts a lot of red ink in the coming years. Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko is opposed to the plan, saying that a nuclear waste dump near Lake Biwa which supplies water to 14 million people in the Kinki region would cause too much anxiety among the population.

Oct. 21, 2006: The Hokuriku Main Line switches to direct-current electrification between Nagahama Station and Tsuruga Station (Fukui), enabling faster shin-kaisoku trains to reach these train stations (Torahime, Kawake, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, Omi-Shiotsu Stations) directly from Kyoto. Before the switch, passengers had to transfer trains at Nagahama Station to go beyond Nagahama. Anticipating a substantial increase in visitors, a new train station building was built at Nagahama, Torahime, Takatsuki, and Kinomoto. However, by March 2008, the passenger increase was only 0.5 percent, far below the target 14% increase.

Click here for Shiga History 2007

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