Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-December 2008. Compiled by Philbert Ono.
Sports Recreation Shiga 2008
Feb. 23, 2008: A 50-km section between Kameyama (Mie Pref.) and Otsu (Kusatsu Tanakami Interchange 草津田上インターチェンジ) of the New Meishin Expressway 新名神高速道路 opens to traffic. A ceremony was held at the Koka-Tsuchiyama Interchange with the Governors of Shiga and Mie in attendance. Passing though Koka and Otsu, the new expressway is expected to lessen traffic on the old Meishin Expressway between Nagoya and Kobe, shorten the driving time to the Kansai area, and bring more visitors to Koka.
March 15, 2008: Nishi-Otsu Station (西大津駅) on the Kosei Line changed its name to Otsu-kyo Station 大津京駅. This is an attempt to have people recognize that Otsu was once the capital of Japan. Also on the Kosei Line, Ogoto Station (雄琴駅) on the Kosei Line changed its name to Ogoto Onsen Station おごと温泉駅. This is an attempt to get more people to visit Ogoto Spa.
March 30, 2008: The Lake Biwa Cultural Museum (Biwako Bunkakan 琵琶湖文化館), a landmark shaped like a castle on the shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu, close its doors after 47 years. The museum opened in 1961 and served as an art museum, centering on Buddhist art, and aquarium for lake fish. Parts of the museum’s collection were later transferred to other museums in Shiga. Its collection of about 5,000 pieces includes National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Due to financial reasons, the cash-strapped prefecture decided to close the museum which will continue to store its collection.
Mar. 29, 2008: Japan’s first Ninja Certification Exam (Ninja Kentei 忍者検定) is held in Konan-cho, Koka, the ancestral home of the Koga (Koka) ninja and home to Japan’s sole remaining original Ninja house. It is a beginner-level written exam with 50 multiple-choice questions. To pass the exam, 30 questions must be answered correctly within 30 min. The questions cover Koga ninja history, ninjutsu techniques, weapons, tools, famous ninja, and ninja in pop culture such as manga and anime. The certification does not include any physical exam of ninja techniques (throwing shuriken star knives, etc.). The exam is held by the Konan-cho Tourist Association to attract ninja fans to Koka. Some 100 ninja fans from all over Japan came to Koka to take the exam. It cost 500 yen to take the exam open to 5th grade students and older people. The top six scorers were awarded with a helicopter ride over Koka after the exam. All the exam takers were treated to a ninja stew for lunch. The exam will be held annually.
June 4, 2008: Hikone starts the Ii Naosuke 150th Anniversary Festival 井伊直弼と開国150年祭 commemorating Lord Ii Naosuke’s achievements in opening Japan to the West in 1858. The festival will last for almost two years until March 2010. It will feature exhibitions and other events. Hiko-nyan is also the official mascot.
June 5, 2008: The Ministry of the Environment announces Japan’s 100 Best Spring Waters of the Heisei Era (平成の名水百選) and four of them are in Shiga Prefecture as follows: Dorai Shozu (堂来清水) in Takayama-cho, Nagahama; Harie-no-Shozu (針江の生水) in Shin-Asahi-cho, Takashima; Isame-no-Shozu (居醒の清水) in Samegai, Maibara; and Yamabiko Yusui (山比古湧水) in Matsuo-dera, Aisho-cho. The 100 locations were selected based on the water’s quality, volume, and how well it was used and preserved by the community.
Oct. 11, 2008: Shiga’s first pro sports team, the Shiga LakeStars pro basketball team in the bj-league, plays its debut game against Osaka Evessa at the Shiga Prefectural Gymnasium in Otsu. The LakeStars lost the game by only 3 points, 78-81. They played Osaka again the next day, and lost again 73-89.
Oct. 18-21, 2008: The Sports Recreation Shiga 2008 (Spo-rec) is held. It is a national sports meet held annually in a different prefecture for adults of all ages. The opening ceremony was held on Oct. 18 at Kibogaoka Park in Yasu.
Oct. 24, 2008: Nishikawa Takanori, a Shiga-native and famous musician known as T.M.Revolution, is appointed as the first Shiga Hometown Tourism Ambassador (Shiga Furusato Kanko Taishi) by Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko.
Oct. 25-26, 2008: The first Yuru-Kyara (Mascot Character) Matsuri was held on Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road in Hikone. Some 46 PR mascots adorned the road and posed for pictures. A total of 46,000 people came.
Click here for Shiga History 2009