Sugatani Onsen hot spring in Nagahama

Sugatani Spa outdoor hot spring bath.

To temporarily escape this winter cold, I went to Sugatani Onsen Spa (須賀谷温泉) in Nagahama. Although I haven’t been to all of Shiga’s hot springs, I can say that this one would be a personal favorite.

It’s off the beaten path in a quiet area at the foot of low mountains near Mt. Odani. It’s not touristy like Ogoto Onsen Spa in Otsu and not crowded (at least on weekdays). Perfect place to warm up, relax, and think about new projects for this new year.

For only 1,000 yen (500 yen for kids), I could bathe in natural hot spring waters in two indoor baths and one outdoor bath (rotenburo) with a view of the sky and trees on the mountain. I brought my own towel so I didn’t need to rent a towel for 200 yen.

The outstanding thing is that the hot spring water is brown due to the high amount of iron mineral (siderite). It adds to the authenticity of the hot spring. The water supposed to be good for a variety ailments such as sore muscles, stiff shoulders, digestive problems, and eczema. The water temperature was also perfect, not too hot at all.

The brown hot spring water is famous for being a favorite of Ichi (Oichi), wife of Lord Azai Nagamasa and younger sister of famous warlord Oda Nobunaga. Ichi (1547–1583) and Nagamasa (1545-1573) lived in nearby Odani Castle in the 16th century. She had a turbulent life in turbulent times of warring warlords. Her three daughters, Chacha, Hatsu, and Go went on to marry very prominent samurai. Samurai retainers from Odani Castle also bathed in the water to heal their war wounds.

The hot spring facilities and guest rooms (room rates start at around 16,000 yen per person) are very nice and still look quite new. The building was newly constructed in fall 2004 to replace the old one (now closed) which still stands further behind the new building. I’ve been to the old onsen building and bath and this new facility is totally different and a great improvement. The lobby is spacious and inviting. There’s also a small gift shop, massage chairs, banquet room, and restaurant. I chatted with the reception desk clerk and he told me about the declining population of Sugatani. He even encouraged me to move to Sugatani. One benefit of that would be daily access to this healing water.

For non-guests, bathing hours are 11 am to 9 pm (日帰り入浴). Shampoo and soap are provided in the bathing area. Note that on weekends and holidays after 3 pm, priority is given to guests staying at the onsen so day-trip visitors might have to wait to get in the bath.

If you don’t have a car, you can go to JR Kawake Station (two stops north of Nagahama Station on the JR Hokuriku Line) and give them a call (0749-74-2235) to pick you up. You can also call them from the foot of Mt. Odani (after visiting Odani Castle) to pick you up. Note that they don’t speak English.

Google Map | Website in Japanese: http://www.sugatani.co.jp

Sugatani Onsen

Two indoor baths. One is lukewarm to cool off.

Changing room, bright and clean.

More Sugatani Onsen photos here.

Tundra Swans on Lake Biwa


On the third day of this new year, I drove up to northern Nagahama’s Kohoku-cho shore along the lakeside road. I went looking for migratory Tundra Swans (kohakucho コハクチョウ) on the lake since I had never photographed them on the lake.

Every autumn around late October, we always hear about the first arrival of Tundra Swans from Siberia. It’s a harbinger of winter for Shiga and those birds are beloved in Shiga. I’m not really a birdwatcher nor a wildlife photographer, but I decided that I’d better get some swan shots.

Fortunately, I spotted a few of them (top photo). A small family of swans among Taiga bean geese, also a migratory bird. Tundra Swans from northern Siberia have been wintering on Lake Biwa since 1971. They arrive in families. Swan couples fly together with their young born last May-June. The juvenile birds are grayish instead of white. They stick together as a family the whole time. Several hundred Tundra Swans winter on Lake Biwa, and over 600 came over last winter. Most of them can be seen in northern Nagahama such as the Kohoku-cho area.

Meanwhile, Taiga bean geese (オオヒシクイ) also spend winter on Lake Biwa, arriving from around late September. They come from the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia and fly over Sakhalin before arriving along the Japan Sea coast. A few thousand of them winter in Japan and a few hundred come to Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa is the southernmost area of Japan where they winter.

Kohoku Mizudori Station

Also visited the Kohoku Mizudori Station, a great place to stop for a bite to eat or to pick up local products and souvenirs. In Japanese, it’s a michi-no-eki, which is a roadside rest stop with a store and eatery. Michi-no-eki are geared for tourists traveling by car. They are conveniently located along a major road (usually far from any train station). Most of Shiga’s cities and towns have at least one michi-no-eki. I’ve included all of them in my Google Maps of Shiga.

Next to Kohoku Mizudori Station is the Kohoku Wildbird Center for birdwatching, which was unfortunately closed for the New Year’s holidays. It’s too bad because there were a lot of people at the Kohoku Mizudori Station and I’m sure they would have also visited the center. Anyway, mission accomplished. Tundra Swan images added to my collection.

Shopping at Kohoku Mizudori Station.

Kohoku Mizudori Station’s ko-ayu sweetfish tempura food stand was very popular. This lady was busy as heck on Jan. 3.

One of the best simple pleasures in Shiga is ko-ayu sweetfish tempura just out of the hot oil. 380 yen.

New Year’s Day 2014 at Taga Taisha

Jan. 1, 2014 at Taga Taisha Shrine.

Today on Jan. 1, 2014, I visited Taga Taisha Shrine to photograph the crowds and film the sacred dances. It was my second time at Taga Taisha on New Year’s Day. The first time was way back in 2005.

The shrine was a lot more crowded today than in 2005. The line to pray in front of the shrine was twice as long as what I photographed in 2005. They said that it takes 1 hour to get to the main shrine to pray. (Update: The shrine announced that 490,000 people visited the shrine during the first three days of 2014. This is a lot more than the 400,000 that visited in 2005.)

Since I usually visit a shrine in other prefectures (Ise Jingu last year) on New Year’s Day, it’s been several years since the last time I visited a shrine in Shiga for New Year’s.

Video camera technology and quality have improved a lot since 2005. I wanted to record the sacred dances in Full HD. My old low-res video of Taga Taisha’s sacred dance from 2005 became a surprising hit among viewers. So I thought I’d better make a better version.

Will post the video when it’s finished. In the meantime, here are a few photos from today.

More Taga Taisha New Year’s photos here.

Happy New Year 2014!

2014nenga

Wishing you the best for 2014!

*Photo: Omi Jingu Shrine’s Yabusame horseback archery festival on Nov. 3, 2013.

Shiga History Nov.-Dec. 2013

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for November-December 2013 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at Japan time).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter).

Yabusame

Omi Jingu Yabusame on Nov. 3, 2013.

2013/11/01 2:51 Moriyama City Hall dept. head (57) disciplined and resigned in disgrace on Oct. 31 after sexual harassment of a female city hall worker.
2013/11/01 3:01 According to NHK, the whereabouts of 2 Important Cultural Property Buddhist statues from Daikoji temple in Koka are unknown. Stolen & sold.
2013/11/01 8:07 My friend Austin Moore in Hino talked to the Wall Street Journal about renovating and living in a huge Japanese home. http://t.co/glKxXyWD2K
2013/11/01 9:27 Nenga New Year’s postcards now on sale. Shiga version has a small drawing of Ritto racehorses for Year of the Horse. http://t.co/8YxkFEIhxl
2013/11/03 12:57 Today, Omi Jingu Shrine held its annual Yabusame Festival, Shiga’s best horseback archery today. http://t.co/X7vnA8kSFm
2013/11/05 12:24 Nagahama City Hall General Affairs (総務課) worker 伊戸昇平 (24) arrested for stealing woman’s underwear from an apt. balcony. Caught red-handed.
2013/11/05 12:28 Otsu City Hall worker Morita Yoshimitsu (59) 森田佳光 arrested for leaking bid price to a co. bidding for Otsu Municipal Hospital wing design.
2013/11/06 4:34 Besides Morita’s arrest, this year has seen a string of arrests and scandals of Otsu City Hall workers for embezzlement, unpaid taxes, etc.
2013/11/08 15:12 Due to diastrophism, Lake Biwa has moved southeast by about 20 cm during 2001-2012. Width also shrank by 3 cm. ##地殻変動 #琵琶湖3センチ縮む
2013/11/09 12:58 Kansai governments 関西広域連合 want the Hokuriku shinkansen from Tsuruga/Fukui to go thru Maibara instead of the Kosei and Obama/Wakasa routes.
2013/11/13 2:13 Gov. Kada favors helping Koka with the ¥350 mil. cost of restoring Shigaraki Kogen Railway. Japanese govt. will only bear 25% of the cost.
2013/11/16 5:06 Yukinoyama Tumulus 雪野山古墳 in Ryuo, Omi-Hachiman, and Higashi-Omi to become Shiga’s 47th National Historic Site. http://t.co/f6DxH9go0F
2013/11/20 13:26 A female Steller’s Sea Eagle オオワシ arrived on Mt. Yamamoto-yama in Nagahama for the 16th winter in a row. Big bird. http://t.co/NdYCt6Wnqf
2013/11/23 1:59 Otsu primary school teacher Masashi Kazama (35) 風間政司 arrested for sneaking into the women’s restroom at a nat’l university in Otsu in April. Kazama was fined ¥100,000 and suspended from work for 1 month starting Nov. 22, 2013. He submitted a letter of resignation.
2013/11/25 12:40 Strong winds today toppled canopy structures at HigashiOmi’s Sogenji temple 曹源寺 during a funeral, killing a man and injuring a man & woman.
2013/12/05 15:54 Bicyclists are now required to ride on left shoulder of the road if there are no sidewalks. Over 1000 bicycle accidents in Shiga in 2013.
2013/12/05 15:57 As of Oct. 31, 2013, 11 fatalities and 1,034 injured in bicycle accidents in Shiga this year.
2013/12/05 16:10 Hundreds of tons of cesium-tainted wood chips abandoned along Takashima’s Kamo River since April will be removed during late Dec. to Jan.
2013/12/18 15:19 Education Ministry found Shiga’s 5th graders scoring lower than the national average on physical fitness tests. 体力と運動能力
2013/12/26 7:50 Koka estimates that it will cost almost ¥700 million to restore Shigaraki Kogen Railway. It will apply for subsidies from the central gov.
2013/12/26 7:59 Built in 1974 and expanded in 1985, the Biwako Ohashi Bridge is now toll-free from Dec. 26 since its cost is all paid up. One-way toll for ordinary cars was ¥150.
2013/12/30 13:02 RT @Astro_Wakata: 立命館守山中学校の皆さん、ISSアマチュア無線の「ARISSスクールコンタクト」イベントで素晴らしい質問をありがとう。皆さんの持っている好奇心を大切にして、目標をはっきり持ってこれからも頑張ってください。
2013/12/30 13:18 On Dec 29, Ritsumeikan Moriyama Jr. High students spoke for 10 min. with astronaut Koichi Wakata on Int’l Space Station via ham radio ARISS.

Click here for Shiga History Jan.-Mar. 2014.

Shiga History Sept.-Oct. 2013

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for September-October 2013 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at Japan time).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter).

台風18号で沈んだ屋形船。大津市瀬田川沿にて。9月20日。撮影/Unose Masaki

A yakata-bune boat sunk by Typhoon Man-Yi in Otsu in Sept. 2013. Only the roof can be seen. Photo by Unose Masaki.

2013/9/3 9:49 Time Scoop Hunter movie about the demise of Azuchi Castle now showing in theatres.  タイムスクープハンター 安土城 最後の1日 http://t.co/fGHV2QKvyA
2013/9/3 9:49 One of 2 active reactors at Oi Nuclear Power Plant was shutdown today for regular inspection. The other reactor will go offline on Sept. 15.
2013/9/7 14:26 Shiga native and Olympic foil fencing silver medalist Ota Yuki spoke English well at the IOC in Buenos Aires today. Good coaching.
2013/9/7 21:08 Nice that a Shiga native (Ota Yuki) had a hand in bringing the Olympics to Tokyo in 2020. Let’s pray that we won’t have any megaquakes.
2013/9/9 9:14 Yuki Ota’s tearful outburst is now a symbol of Japan’s Olympic joy in news media all over Japan and the world. http://t.co/RRCbGt7tKt
2013/9/13 12:52 Beware of the venomous redback spider spotted in eastern Shiga. They will be active till late Oct. when they hibernate. セアカゴケグモ
2013/9/13 13:15 Shiga BOE is in panic over below-average scholastic achievement test scores. They sent people to Akita and Fukui to observe teaching methods
2013/9/15 20:13 Heavy rain/flood warnings in effect for Shiga, Kyoto, and Fukui this morning amid the typhoon. Expected to be the worst in decades.
2013/9/15 20:27 In front of Otsu City Hall, what should be a road is now a river. Trains in Shiga are delayed. http://t.co/XWFzKVkzON
2013/9/16 15:33 In Shiga, Kutsuki (Takashima), Tsuchiyama, and Shigaraki got the most rain. Landslide killed a 71-year-old woman at home in Ritto. #typhoon
2013/9/17 13:30 Keihan Keishin Line between Otsu and Kyoto is disabled due to landslides. Shigaraki Kogen Railway also disabled due to collapsed bridge.
2013/9/18 14:35 Hikone Castle’s Nishinomaru turret got rain damage. 51 traffic lights and 300 road signs were damaged in Shiga, most already fixed today.
2013/9/18 22:39 Due to typhoon-damaged roads, Miho Museum will be closed until Sept. 24, 2013. http://t.co/m9szpnOgLw
2013/9/18 22:42 Buses are running in place of the Shigaraki Kogen Railway between Kibukawa and Shigaraki Stations. Map of bus stops: http://t.co/VMn4TVCH4T
2013/9/18 22:53 In Hikone, avoid climbing Mt. Sawayama (Mitsunari’s castle) due to possible landslides or loose rocks caused by the heavy typhoon rains.
2013/9/18 23:04 In Takashima, the hiking trail from Gulliver Village to Yatsubuchi-no-taki waterfalls is closed. 八ツ淵の滝 http://t.co/eNJEdAlMsD
2013/9/20 23:07 Avoid Shiga’s mountains/hills. Many roads are closed. Kutsuki in Takashima and western Otsu. Buses from Otsu to Shigaraki are suspended.
2013/9/21 0:17 Ishiyama-dera temple’s hillside garden behind the Hondo hall is closed due to landslide. Structures are all OK. http://t.co/15hc4tvdUN
2013/9/21 1:09 Shiga will need more time to clean up after the typhoon. Debris on the lake and shore, muddy/closed roads/sidewalks, murky waters, etc.
2013/9/21 23:29 Lakeshore road to Kaizu-Osaki from JR Makino Station is closed. Avoid mountains. Closed roads (red) in Takashima: https://t.co/xes40pa0nw
2013/9/22 4:10 Kawachi Fuketsu Cavern in Taga is closed due to typhoon-damaged access road. When it can reopen is unknown. http://t.co/QdCT9aiuyO
2013/9/22 4:24 Part of Azuchi Castle is off limits due to landslide. Stone steps damaged at Tachiki Kannon temple in Otsu. http://t.co/aa8Cf6LXJ4
2013/9/22 5:51 Shiga/Biwako Brand Fair is being held at Osaka Station City 5th floor Toki-no-Hiroba till Sept. 25. Food, crafts, etc. http://t.co/jVrxSML57H
2013/9/24 20:11 In Otsu, Miidera temple Kondo Hall’s kamebara foundation 亀腹 was damaged. Typhoon blew off the relatively new plaster. http://t.co/xvV5rO3fNR
2013/9/25 20:10 Fearing Ospreys? Many more people die from traffic accidents than from plane crashes. In 2012, 79 fatalities and 10,419 injured in Shiga.
2013/9/25 23:31 The word “POLICE” in English is being emblazoned on Shiga’s police cars to stand out more and to make sure foreigners understand. 滋賀県警察
2013/9/29 12:39 The Keihan Keishin Line between Otsu and Kyoto that was out of service due to landslides is fully restored from Sept. 30, 2013.
2013/9/30 21:32 Shiga Kaikan in Otsu closed yesterday. Opened 1954, it had event/wedding hall, library, hotel, etc. Pref. sold the land to NHK Otsu. 旧滋賀会館
2013/9/30 21:39 Besides a collapsed bridge, Shigaraki Kogen Railway got buried with mud at 24 spots. Will likely be out of service until 2014.
2013/10/3 3:12 Sayonara to Shigaraki Kogen Railway? Repairing the collapsed bridge and railway may prove to be too costly. It may be shut down for good.
2013/10/3 3:37 Pieri Moriyama shopping mall, struggling with only a few tenants, has a new owner wanting to reopen with 100-200 shops by 2015. Good luck.
2013/10/6 11:26 The Oct. 7 start of US-Japan joint military training in Takashima has been postponed because the US Marines will not arrive in time. 日米共同訓練
2013/10/7 14:51 Welcome US Marines training at Takashima, Shiga! Hope you have time to go sightseeing here and eat the local food like funazushi.
2013/10/14 11:22 Art & history buffs shouldn’t miss the rare exhibition of Japan’s largest dotaku bronze bell at Dotaku Museum in Yasu http://t.co/G3RHrKOQtS
2013/10/15 9:46 Two Ospreys from Okinawa are now in Iwakuni on their way to Takashima. Will fly to Takashima on the 16th morning despite the typhoon.
2013/10/16 3:47 Amid rain and winds, two Ospreys landed on Takashima’s GSDF Aibano training site at 10:20 this morning for US-Japan joint exercises.
2013/10/16 11:01 Japan’s first US-Japan training exercise with Ospreys ended well today in Takashima. Always proud to see peaceful US-Japan cooperation.
2013/10/17 1:24 The unsightly ferris wheel in Katata is finally being dismantled. To be sold to a Vietnamese co. It was part of Biwako Tower closed in 2001.
2013/10/18 11:32 Gov. Kada is not requiring schools to reveal their scholastic achievement test scores. Shiga’s 6th graders had Japan’s 2nd lowest scores. 学力テスト
2013/10/18 15:52 Farewell US Marines! US-Japan joint military exercises with about 230 soldiers in GSDF Aibano, Takashima ended on Oct. 18. 日米共同訓練 饗庭野演習場
2013/10/24 4:57 Otsu primary school teacher Masashi Kazama (35) 風間政司 arrested for sneaking into the women’s restroom at a nat’l university in Otsu in April.
2013/10/28 2:42 Kunimasu salmon, thought to be extinct in its native Lake Tawaza in Akita in 1940, now displayed alive at Lake Biwa Museum till Nov. 24.

Click here for Shiga History Nov.-Dec. 2013

Autumn festivals and foliage November 2013 in Shiga Prefecture

Recommended festivals, events, exhibitions, and autumn leaves in Shiga Prefecture in November 2013. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) Compiled by Philbert Ono.

20131027-8443

Kunimasu trout at Lake Biwa Museum.

Oct. 26 – November 24, 2013
♦ Kunimasu Trout Special Exhibit, Lake Biwa Museum, Kusatsu, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
A special and rare exhibit (the first in western Japan) of live kunimasu trout (Oncorhynchus kawamurae or black kokanee), previously thought to have gone extinct in the 1940s. Kunimasu was an endemic fish found only in Lake Tazawa in Akita Prefecture, but became extinct (along with most other fish species in the lake) in the 1940s when the water became too acidic. The acidic water came from nearby Tamagawa hot springs. In 1940, they allowed the hot spring’s highly acidic water to flow into the lake for a hydroelectric power plant and for diluting the hot spring’s acidity. The war effort was Japan’s top priority at the time, and they didn’t care about the environment and some fish becoming extinct. A far cry from today. The lake still has not fully recovered from its acidic water.

In 1930, kunimasu fish eggs were sent to a number of lakes in Nagano, Yamanashi, and Toyama Prefectures as an experiment to see if they could be hatched and bred artificially. Sending fish eggs to other places was done to increase stocks of food fish. In 1935, the eggs were sent to Lake Saiko and Lake Motosu near Mt. Fuji and even to Shiga Prefecture’s Samegai Trout Farm in Maibara. The hatching experiment was deemed to have failed since no kunimasu were ever caught outside Lake Tazawa. In 1997-98, the Lake Tazawa Tourist Association offered a 5 million yen cash reward for any kunimasu caught in Japan. But no luck.

Then in 2010, Kyoto University professor Nakabo Tetsuji (中坊 徹次) requested a fish fanatic celebrity and illustrator, nicknamed Sakana-kun, to draw an illustration of a kunimasu. To help him draw this “extinct” fish, Sakana-kun had people send him specimens of himemasu (Oncorhynchus nerka or kokanee) which is a close relative of kunimasu. Then one fish sent from Lake Saiko in Yamanashi Prefecture caught Sakana-kun’s attention since it looked like kunimasu. He sent it to Professor Nakabo who examined and checked the DNA. He and his research team confirmed it to be kunimasu in mid-December 2010. They announced the find to the press and it was Japan’s fish story of the century.

It turned out that fishermen at Lake Saiko had been catching kunimasu all along, but called it kuromasu because it turned black (kuro means “black”) before spawning. It was relatively common to catch even among sport fishermen. People who dared to eat the black fish found it to be very delicious. Lake Saiko now retricts fishing in areas where the deep-water kunimasu is thought to dwell. And Lake Tazawa is working to cleanse its acidic water to allow kunimasu back to its original home.

Five artificially-hatched kunimasu are displayed in the Lake Biwa Museum aquarium’s special exhibition room. Museum admission for adults is 750 yen (kids free), but it will be free for all on Nov. 16-17 as part of Kansai Culture Day when most museums in Shiga and neighboring prefectures will be free.

By train, get off at JR Kusatsu Station on the Tokaido/Biwako Line. Get out the Nishi-guchi west exit and wait at bus stop 2. Take the bus going to Karasuma Hanto (peninsula) and get off at Biwako Hakubutsukan (琵琶湖博物館). About 25 min. Buses run about twice an hour on weekends and once an hour on weekdays. Bus fare 420 yen. Bus schedule hereGoogle Map
琵琶湖博物館 よみがえった魚 クニマス
http://www.lbm.go.jp/tenji/ex_suizoku/s_topic_131026_kunimasu.html

dotaku2013

Japan’s largest dotaku bell in Yasu.

October 5-Nov. 24, 2013
♦ Homecoming Exhibition for Japan’s Largest Bronze Bell and Yayoi no Mori Foliage Illumination, Dotaku Bronze Bell Museum (Yasu Folk History Museum) (Yasu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan 銅鐸博物館 野洲市歴史民俗博物館), Yasu, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (till 9 pm on Nov. 16-17), closed Oct. 15 and Nov. 5
Yayoi no Mori Foliage Illumination on Nov. 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 at 5:45 pm – 9 pm (enter by 8:30 pm).
A very special and rare exhibit of Japan’s largest ancient bronze bell (called dotaku) found near the museum in Yasu. The bell, designated as an Important Cultural Property, is owned by the Tokyo National Museum where it is normally exhibited. This is the first time this bell will be exhibited in its hometown of Yasu since it was unearthed in 1881. A smaller dotaku on loan from the Tokyo National Museum and numerous replica dotaku bells are also on display.

On Aug. 20, 1881, two young lads were playing on nearby Mt. Oiwa when they stumbled across three dotaku bells partially exposed in the ground. The next day, eleven more dotaku were discovered in the same area. The bells are dated from around 100 BC to 300 AD (Japan’s Yayoi Period). The bells were not really used as bells. They were more for decorative and religious purposes. Two of the dotaku were acquired by the Tokyo National Museum. The remaining dotaku were scattered among various people. Their whereabouts were unknown until an investigation found 12 of them at temples and Japanese and overseas museums. It’s frustrating that none of the original dotaku discovered in Yasu are in Yasu. Another case of bungling and ineptness by local officials who couldn’t recognize a good thing when they saw it. Near the museum, there’s a monument where the large bell was found. Yasu’s official mascot, Dotaku-kun, is modeled after this bell.

Also, the museum has Yayoi no Mori, an outdoor display of Yayoi-Period grass shacks and garden of autumn foliage that will be illuminated in the evening on the days listed above. The museum will also be open till 9 pm on Nov. 16-17. Museum admission 200 yen for adults. Free admission for Yasu residents and free for all on Nov. 16-17 for Kansai Culture Day.

From JR Yasu Station’s South exit (Minami-guchi), take a bus going to Karyoku Koen (花緑公園) or Murata Seisakusho (via Nishi Gate 西ゲート経由 村田製作所行き) and get off at Dotaku Hakubutsukan-mae (銅鐸博物館前). Bus ride is only a few minutes. From bus stop, cross the road to get to the museum. The bus stop to go back to Yasu Station is up the slope on the other side of the road where you got off. You can ask the museum about the bus times to go back. Buses run infrequently. Bus schedule for weekdaysSat. and Sun. here. Or 10 min. by taxi. Google Map

銅鐸-日本最大銅鐸の里帰り-
http://www.city.yasu.lg.jp/doc/kyouikubu/hakubutukan/2013doutaku.html

Hikone Castle Festival Parade

Hikone Castle Festival Parade

November 3, 2013
♦ 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. Google Map
小江戸彦根の城まつりパレード
http://www.city.hikone.shiga.jp/kanko/event/event111103.html

November 3, 2013
♦ Omi Jingu Shrine Yabusame Horseback Archery, Otsu, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
One of Shiga’s largest shrines, Omi Jingu will hold horseback archery on this national holiday known as Culture Day. The festival starts with a ceremony at 12:30 pm and the archery begins at 1 pm along the main path. Reserved seating is also available for 500 yen. Call the shrine at 077-522-3725 to make reservations. Otherwise, get there early to get a good spot. The shrine is also famous for clocks and karuta tournaments. Near Omi Jingu-mae Station on the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line. Google Map
近江神宮流鏑馬神事
http://oumijingu.org/publics/index/134/

November 9, 2013
♦ Traditional Fireworks Summit in Koka, Koka-shi Minakuchi Sports No Mori (soccer field), 5:00 pm
Awesome display of ground fireworks from masters all over Japan. If seeing fireworks in summer is too hot for you, this would be good. Free admission.
20-min. walk from Minakuchi Jonan Station on the Ohmi Railways. Or from Kibukawa Station, take the Heart bus and get off at Sports no Mori. Google Map
第14回全国伝統花火サミットin甲賀
http://www.koka-kanko.org/res/?evid=325

Hiyoshi Taisha torii lit up in autumn.

November 10-December 1, 2013
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. Google Map
もみじ祭
http://hiyoshitaisha.jp/event/momiji/

Kongorinji

Kongorinji

November 16-December 1, 2013
♦ 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 in eastern Shiga: Saimyoji (西明寺) in Kora, Kongorinji (金剛輪寺) in Aisho, and Hyakusaiji (百済寺) in Higashi-Omi. They are famous for autumn leaves and structures that are National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. Each temple also has its own unique characteristics. Saimyoji has a National Treasure Hondo worship hall and National Treasure pagoda that you can enter. It’s also deservedly one of Japan’s 100 Grand Autumn Foliage Sites. Kongorinji has many little Jizo statues and a National Treasure Hondo main hall housing an 11-faced Kannon statue and 13 other statues that are Important Cultural Properties. Hyakusaiji is famous for giant straw sandals on a gate and a Japanese garden. Established by Shotoku Taishi in 609, Hyakusaiji is Shiga Prefecture’s oldest temple and one of Japan’s oldest. The Hondo temple hall has an 11-faced Kannon statue carved by Shotoku Taishi, a prince credited with spreading Buddhism in Japan.

During this period, convenient shuttle buses (Koto Sanzan Shuttle Bus) run every day between these three temples and a few train stations. The shuttle buses run most frequently from north to south, that is, from Saimyoji to Kongorinji and then to Hyakusaiji. Board the shuttle bus at JR Kawase Station or Ohmi Railways Amago Station. The bus will stop at Saimyoji first. Check the bus stop for bus departure times. After touring Saimyoji, catch another shuttle bus to the next temple, Kongorinji, and then Hyakusaiji. Shuttle buses also run from Hyakusaiji to Eigenji (listed below), another temple famous for foliage. From Hyakusaiji and Eigenji, buses go to Ohmi Railways Yokaichi Station. Buses depart once or twice an hour from 9:10 am at Kawase Station and 9:20 am at Amago Station. From Hyakusaiji, the last shuttle bus leaves at 4:35 pm for Ohmi Railways Yokaichi Station arriving at 5 pm. Or you can catch the 5 pm shuttle bus for Amago Station (arrive 5:46 pm) or Kawase Station (arrive 5:56 pm).

If you want to go from south to north, catch the shuttle bus at Ohmi Railways Yokaichi Station at 9:35 am and get off at Hyakusaiji. From Saimyoji, the last shuttle bus leaves at 5:33 pm for Ohmi Railways Amago Station and JR Kawase Station. Buses also run between Ohmi Railways Taga Taisha-mae Station and Saimyoji. See the bus schedule here (in Japanese).
Bus fare is 200 yen per ride which is only 10-20 min. They also offer a day pass called Momiji kippu (Maple ticket) for 1,650 yen. This day pass includes passage on all Koto Sanzan shuttle buses and all Ohmi Railways trains. A good deal if you plan to ride on Ohmi Railways. Each temple also charges admission of 500 yen. Note that if you like to take your time, you might not be able to see all three temples in one day.
Saimyoji Map | Kongorinji Map | Hyakusaiji Map
秋の湖東三山
http://www.ohmitetudo.co.jp/bus/event/2013/kotoushuttle/images/kouyou.pdf
Official sites: Saimyoji | Kongorinji | Hyakusaiji

Eigenji

Eigenji in autumn. Hondo on right.

November 9-30, 2013
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. Shuttle buses from Hyakusaiji also run to Eigenji during Nov. 16-Dec. 1. Google Map
永源寺 ライトアップ
http://eigenji-t.jp

Hyozu Taisha

Hyozu Taisha Shrine in autumn.

November 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 2013
Hyozu Taisha Shrine Garden Autumn Foliage Light-up, Yasu, 5:45 pm – 9:00 pm
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. Mini concerts will be held during the foliage illumination in the evenings.

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 at 9:02 pm on weekdays and 7:17 pm on Sat./Sun. Or take a taxi (costing about 2,000 yen from Yasu Station). Google Map
兵主大社庭園紅葉ライトアップ

Genkyuen

Genkyuen autumn foliage light-up.

November 15-December 1, 2013
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 500 yen. Short walk from JR Hikone Station. Google Map
錦秋の玄宮園ライトアップ
http://www.hikoneshi.com/jp/event/articles/c/

Chojuji in autumn.

November 16-December 1, 2013
♦ Konan Sanzan Temple Trio 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. The last bus leaves Zensuiji at 5:17 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, 9:20 am, 9:30 am, 10:15 am, and 11:25 am. Bus schedule here. Google Map
湖南三山めぐり
http://www.burari-konan.jp/konan3zan/

November 16-December 8, 2013
♦ Kyorinbo Garden Autumn Foliage Light-up, Azuchi, Omi-Hachiman, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
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 not allowed. 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. 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
http://www.d1.dion.ne.jp/~marche/kyourinbou/

December 1, 2013
♦ Tonda Ningyo Puppet Show, Lute Plaza, 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
人形浄瑠璃「冨田人形」
http://kitabiwako.jp/event/event_7133/?month=2013/12&area=nagahama

December 1, 2013
♦ 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. Google Map
太郎坊宮お火焚大祭
http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~tarobo/

Shiga History July-Aug. 2013

Under a new Shiga News blog category called Shiga History, I shall be posting a summary of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits every two months gleaned from Shiga Headlines on Twitter. This is the first installment covering July-August 2013. Since I started tweeting from July 17, 2013, it starts from that date.

Funazushi die-cut postcard

Funazushi die-cut postcard.

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for July-August 2013 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at Japan time). Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter).

2013/07/17 21:51 Fifty new microorganism species unique to Lake Biwa discovered over the past 7 years. Attracting int’l attention. http://t.co/bXBxPjoT4K
2013/07/18 1:27 “Art from the Lakes” exhibition of 7 Shiga artists at Lansing Art Gallery, Michigan, Aug. 2-Sept. 28, 2013. http://t.co/fvfEFBdcgs
2013/07/19 6:14 In July, they start fermenting nigorobuna carp to make funazushi. Shiga fishing cooperatives offer day-long classes. http://t.co/03DlV8IHCF
2013/07/19 8:46 Shiga post offices are selling funazushi die-cut postcards, the 5th in the series. Looks more like dried persimmons. http://t.co/thlybOcFoF
2013/07/20 0:15 Steam locomotive SL Kita-Biwako runs from Maibara Sta. to Kinomoto every Sunday at 10:09 and 13:16 till Aug. 25. For Rsvn call 0088−24−5489.
2013/07/20 0:39 Watch or help them build the new Higashi-Omi giant kite at the Higashiomi Odako Kite Museum till Aug. 8. http://t.co/20jVj7OFMM
2013/07/20 23:50 New book about abandoned train stations shows old Kojaku Railway Omi-Imazu Station buildng, nice but in disuse. http://t.co/BewEeWH9jC
2013/07/20 23:51 Cosplayers posing with Hikonyan at the Japan Expo in Paris in early July. Can’t do this in Japan. He’s too popular. http://t.co/Y7ng314HTR
2013/07/23 10:36 Sumo wrestler Nionoumi from Otsu did poorly in Nagoya with 1 win, 14 losses. He will sink down from Juryo No. 4. http://t.co/ffdzKGBwRb
2013/07/23 14:06 Shiga Lakestars have a new head coach in Chris Boettcher, American from BYU. Former Mormon missionary in Japan. http://t.co/qJq5DbFd7F
2013/07/24 4:36 For 3 years in a row, over 90% of adult residents surveyed thought living in Shiga was “Nice” or “Very nice.” http://t.co/wPpDNFzGQB
2013/07/29 11:02 Hikone Higashi High School beat Omi Kyodaisha 3-1 to represent Shiga at the national high school baseball tourney at Koshien in Aug.
2013/07/31 9:41 Successful Tonda bunraku puppet show by 10 foreigners on July 28 in Nagahama. Covered by NHK TV Otsu news tonight. http://t.co/E2ahkk1BiN
2013/08/02 8:48 Inazuma Rock Fes snagged PUFFY as one of the acts on Sept. 21 at Karasuma, Kusatsu. Tickets on sale from Aug. 17. http://t.co/EGV0N9Kzxp
2013/08/04 16:29 Uminoko, Shiga’s “Floating School,” marked its 30th anniversary. Its 1st voyage with 5th graders was on Aug. 2, ’83. http://t.co/9KWBaWl5Yy
2013/08/06 14:03 Aug. 4 in Higashi-Omi, a fireman, 2 kids, and 7 others badly burned when he splashed alcohol on a flaming pan for a fire extinguisher demo.
2013/08/12 6:37 New Higashi-Omi giant kite completed Aug. 8. Displayed at Kite Museum annex until 18th. “Connections for bonding 繫.” http://t.co/OZDd6iOMns
2013/08/13 6:36 Hikone Higashi H.S. lost their 1st game at Koshien to Hanamaki Higashi (Iwate) 5-9. As long as you did your best, we’re still proud of you.
2013/08/22 7:56 My video of the Yokaichi Shotoku Matsuri Goshu Ondo dance on July 27, 2013. http://t.co/XMjeC8jcoh
2013/08/27 13:05 Controversial Osprey planes and US Marines in Okinawa may come to Takashima this Oct. for joint training with the Ground Self-Defense Force.
2013/08/27 13:31 Shiga’s 6th graders and 3rd-year jr high students scored lower than the national average on scholastic achievement tests in April.

*This is the beauty of Twitter. I can easily save and archive my posts (tweets) into a neat table. Something that’s not possible with Facebook which is essentially a black hole sucking in all your content without giving anything back.

Click here for Shiga History Sept.-Oct. 2013

Autumn festivals Oct. 2013 in Shiga Prefecture

Oct.-Nov. is another prime time for festivals and events in Japan. Here are some recommended autumn/fall festivals (matsuri) and events in Shiga in October 2013. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.)

October 1-20, 2013
♦ Shigaraki Art Festival 2013, Koka, 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Pottery exhibitions (especially tanuki raccoon dog) and noborigama kiln demonstration. Three venues in central Shigaraki, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, and Shigaraki Traditional Craft Center. Held for the second time this year. On Oct. 12-14, the Shigaraki Pottery Festival will also be held mainly at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. The outdoor pottery fair near Shigaraki Station will be scaled back this year because of the railway closure. http://www.shigaraki-matsuri.com/
Note that the Shigaraki Kogen Railway is out of service and buses are running instead between Kibukawa and Shigaraki Stations. Buses from JR Ishiyama Stationi in Otsu is also out of service due to road damage as of this writing. Google Map
信楽まちなか芸術祭
http://shigaraki-fes.com/2013/english

October 5-6, 2013
♦ Art in Nagahama, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (till 4 pm on 6th)
Art works by a few hundred artists from all over Japan will be displayed in central Nagahama. Paintings, pottery, sculptures, etc. Artists will be at booths along the streets in the neighborhood of Kurokabe Square and the Hikiyama Museum. Artist performances (live painting, etc.) will also be held. Art will be for sale. Venue map here. Near JR Nagahama Station. Google Map
アートインナガハマ2013
http://www.art-in-nagahama.com

dotaku2013

Japan’s largest dotaku bell in Yasu.

October 5-Nov. 24, 2013
♦ Homecoming Exhibition for Japan’s Largest Bronze Bell, Dotaku Bronze Bell Museum (Yasu Folk History Museum) (Yasu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan 銅鐸博物館 野洲市歴史民俗博物館), Yasu, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed Oct. 15 and Nov. 5
A very special and rare exhibit of Japan’s largest ancient bronze bell (called dotaku) found near the museum in Yasu. The bell, designated as an Important Cultural Property, is owned by the Tokyo National Museum where it is normally exhibited. This is the first time this bell will be exhibited in its hometown of Yasu since it was unearthed in 1881. A smaller dotaku on loan from the Tokyo National Museum and numerous replica dotaku bells are also on display.

On Aug. 20, 1881, two young lads were playing on nearby Mt. Oiwa when they stumbled across three dotaku bells partially exposed in the ground. The next day, eleven more dotaku were discovered in the same area. The bells are dated from around 100 BC to 300 AD (Japan’s Yayoi Period). The bells were not really used as bells. They were more for decorative and religious purposes. Two of the dotaku were acquired by the Tokyo National Museum. The remaining dotaku were scattered among various people. Their whereabouts were unknown until an investigation found 12 of them at temples and Japanese and overseas museums. It’s frustrating that none of the original dotaku discovered in Yasu are in Yasu. Another case of bungling and ineptness by local officials who couldn’t recognize a good thing when they saw it. Near the museum, there’s a monument where the large bell was found. Yasu’s official mascot, Dotaku-kun, is modeled after this bell.

Museum admission 200 yen for adults. Free admission for Yasu residents and free for all on Nov. 16-17.
From JR Yasu Station’s South exit (Minami-guchi), take a bus going to Karyoku Koen (花緑公園) or Murata Seisakusho (via Nishi Gate 西ゲート経由 村田製作所行き) and get off at Dotaku Hakubutsukan-mae (銅鐸博物館前). Bus ride is only a few minutes. From bus stop, cross the road to get to the museum. The bus stop to go back to Yasu Station is up the slope on the other side of the road where you got off. You can ask the museum about the bus times to go back. Buses run infrequently. Bus schedule for weekdaysSat. and Sun. here. Or 10 min. by taxi. Google Map

銅鐸-日本最大銅鐸の里帰り-
http://www.city.yasu.lg.jp/doc/kyouikubu/hakubutukan/2013doutaku.html

October 6, 2013
♦ Odani Castle Furusato Matsuri, Odani Castle Park, Nagahama, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Local hometown festival honoring the Azai Clan who lived in Odani Castle. They include the famous Azai sisters (Chacha, Go, Hatsu). The festival includes a samurai costume parade, stage entertainment, taiko drummers, yosakoi dancers, and mochi tossing. Lots of games and stuff for kids. A shuttle bus going up to Odani Castle will also run from 9:45 am to 2:15 pm (500 yen roundtrip). Lot easier/faster than walking up the mountain. From JR Kawake Station, take a bus for Odani-jo Atoguchi (小谷城址口) taking 10 min. Google Map
小谷城ふるさと祭り
http://kitabiwako.jp/event/event_980/

Otsu Matsuri

October 12-13, 2013
Otsu Matsuri Festival, streets north of JR Otsu Station, sunset till 9 pm on 12th, 9:00 am-5:30 pm on 13th
One of Shiga’s major festivals with thirteen ornate floats displayed and paraded around central Otsu over two days. The first day of the festival has the floats parked and displayed on the streets and lit up in the evening (Yoimiya). The second day is the festival climax with a procession of all the floats highlighted by occasional performances of karakuri mechanical puppets on the floats. Held by Tenson Shrine in Otsu. At Otsu Station, there should be a festival information counter where you can pick up maps of the parade route. Parade route is within walking distance from Otsu Station. Google Map
大津祭
http://www.otsu-matsuri.jp/festival/

October 12, 2013
♦ Nagahama Kimono Garden Party (Kimono Enyu-kai), Hokoen Park water fountain and central Nagahama, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Central Nagahama will be a colorful sight with 1,000 women age 18-40 walking around dressed in kimono from 10 am. At 2:30 pm, they will all gather at Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine for a grand prize drawing. (It’s usually held at Daitsuji temple, but they are doing renovation work this year.) Prizes include overseas trips (to Hawaii and South Korea) and expensive kimono. A few hundred other prizes from local merchants and gift certificates will also be given away. You have to register here to participate in the drawing. People (including men and kids) not registered can also join in the fun by wearing a kimono and receive a gift certificate worth 1,000 yen by signing up at Hokoen Park’s water fountain. All within walking distance from JR Nagahama Station. Google Map
長浜きもの大園遊会
http://kitabiwako.jp/syusse/enyu/index.html

October 12, 2013
♦ Matchlock Gun Demonstration (Hinawaju Taikai), in front of Nagahama Castle, 11:00 am and 1:00 pm
Matchlock gun battalions from Kunitomo (Nagahama) and Tanegashima (Kagoshima Pref.) will dramatically demonstrate the firing of matchlock guns used during the 16th century. The Kunitomo neighborhood of Nagahama and Tanegashima island in Kagoshima Prefecture were famous for gunsmiths who made the guns soon after they were introduced to Japan in 1544. The guns make a big bang so it’s not for little kids or people afraid of large noises. They will perform twice for about 30 min. It will be on the same day as “Kimono Day” (see event above) so you’ll see many kimono ladies around too. Google Map
火縄銃大会
http://kitabiwako.jp/syusse/hinawa.html

Maibara Hikiyama Matsuri

October 12-14, 2013
Maibara Hikiyama Matsuri Festival, near JR Maibara Station, afternoon and evening
Held annually by Yutani Shrine, festival with three ornate floats pulled around the streets mainly on the east side of JR Maibara Station. Like the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri, the floats have young boys performing kabuki. There are three floats and most years only two floats appear, but this year all three floats will appear (lucky you!). Each float will be paraded and parked at certain spots for kabuki performances. If you go from around noon to around 9 or 10 pm, you’ll see one or more of the floats sooner or later. Exact show times in Japanese. Google Map
米原曳山祭
http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~hozonkai/index.htm

October 13, 2013
♦ Daidogei (Street Performance) Festa in Toragozen, Nagahama (Torahime Ikigai Center 虎姫生きがいセンター), 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Several top-notch street performers will perform on stage, including a Chinese acrobat. The venue will also have food stalls and other entertainment. Performance schedule here. Free admission. The venue is a 10-min. walk from JR Torahime Station. Google Map
大道芸フェスタin虎御前
http://www.torass.com

October 13, 2013
♦ Hoko Matsuri, 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Procession of people and kids dressed in samurai costume marching from Hokoku Shrine (豊国神社) to Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine and back. They impersonate Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his “Seven Spears” samurai who won the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583. It’s a not grand procession, but if you happen to be there that day, it’s worth seeing. Google Map
豊公まつり
http://kitabiwako.jp/syusse/houkou.html

Mascot Character Expo in Hikone

October 19-20, 2013
Yuru-kyara Expo in Hikone 2013 (Gotochi Kyara-haku in Hikone), Yume Kyobashi Castle Road and Yonbancho Square, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Large gathering of 237 lovable mascots called “yuru-kyara” from Shiga and 40 other prefectures. The mascot star will be Hiko-nyan. There will be booths to show off whatever they are showing off. Mainly tourist destinations and products. Besides posing with the mascots for pictures, there will be stage entertainment. Note that Hiko-nyan will be untouchable. You can’t take pictures with him. They changed the name of this event from Yuru-kyara Matsuri in Hikone. To be held for the 5th time in 2013. Some 80,000 visitors are expected during the two days. Google Map
ご当地キャラ博in彦根 2013
http://yuru-chara.jp/hikone2013

October 19, 2013
♦ Konan City Local Gourmet (Konan-shi B-kyu Gourmet Taikai), Ameyama Cultural Sports Park (Shukuba no Sato), Konan, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
A contest of local gourmet chefs with food booths. They don’t have much other info even in Japanese. It must be successful because it will be the third time this year. They will also hold the Ishibe-juku Matsuri Festival at the same time/place. From JR Ishibe Station, buses to the venue take 5 min. Google Map
湖南市B級グルメ大会
http://www.burari-konan.jp/contents/special/b.html

October 19, 2013
♦ Seta Karahashi Bridge East-West Tug of War, Otsu, 1:40 pm – 2:45 pm
A hundred people on the east end (in red samurai armor T-shirts) and a hundred on the west end  (in blue samurai armor T-shirts) will pull a 200-meter, red-and-white rope on the famous Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge that was recently repainted. Fringe events include food/souvenir stalls and stage entertainment near the bridge starting at 10 am. Also, free boat rides on the Seta River. Google Map
勢多唐橋東西大綱引合戦 (Seta Karahashi Tozai Tsunahiki Gassen)
http://www.seta-karahashi.com/#tsunahiki

Festivals and events in November 2013 here.

台風18号による滋賀の観光施設・文化財の被害

更新日:2013年9月30日

台風18号で沈んだ屋形船。大津市瀬田川沿にて。9月20日。撮影/Unose Masaki

台風18号で沈んだ屋形船。大津市瀬田川沿にて。9月20日。撮影/Unose Masaki
A yakata-bune boat sunk by Typhoon Man-Yi in Otsu. Only the roof can be seen.

2013年9月15日〜16日に気象庁が初めて「特別警報」を出した滋賀県は台風18号による豪雨で大きな被害が相次いだ。特にひどかったのは高島市、甲賀市、大津市。

滋賀県内の観光施設や文化財への主な被害をまとめてみました。なお、この他の被害もあるかもしれませんので出かける前に状況を確認してください。特に登山。(22日に比良山系で男性登山者の死亡も出ています。ご冥福を祈りします。)

This is a list of tourist sights and major cultural properties in Shiga which were damaged or affected by Typhoon Man-Yi (No. 18) on September 15-16, 2013. English version of this post is provided on my Twitter feed. It is for the safety and welfare of our visitors. Compiled by Philbert Ono.

滋賀県内の交通機関の運休状況

  • 信楽高原鐵道(貴生川駅〜信楽駅間) – 全線運休。川に架かる鉄橋の一部が橋脚ごと流され、運転再開のめどが立っていません。代行バスあり。のりばの地図最新の情報はこちら
  • JR石山駅発の信楽・ミホミュージアム行きの帝産バスは運休。(最新の情報はこちら
  • ミホミュージアム~信楽線の帝産バスも運休。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 京阪電車の京津線(御陵駅~浜大津駅間) – 運転を見合わせ、振替輸送およびバス代行あり。(9月30日より復旧)(最新の情報はこちら
  • 高島市内のバスと乗合タクシーの運休や折返しは多数。詳細はこちら

道路の状況

観光名所・文化財の状況

  • 大津市の石山寺の境内は複数の場所で土砂崩れのため、一部が通行止め。紫式部銅像など見れません。建造物および人的な被害はなし。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 大津市の三井寺の国宝の金堂で、「亀腹」と呼ばれる基礎部分の漆喰(しっくい)がはがれたり亀裂が生じた。写真
  • 大津市の国史跡「近江国府跡・国庁跡」は、遺跡北側ののり面が崩れ、隣接する市道に土砂が流出。
  • 大津市の立木観音の寺の石段が崩れたと報道されたが、参拝できそうです。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 大津市の国史跡の堂ノ上遺跡で、史跡北端の私有地ののり面が幅六メートル、高さ三メートルにわたって崩落。
  • 甲賀市のミホミュージアムは9月24日まで臨時休館。開館後、周辺道路が復旧するまで一部縮小して営業中。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 彦根市の佐和山ハイキングコースが一時閉鎖。地盤が弱くなっているため。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 国宝彦根城西の丸三重櫓は、矢を放つために設けられた狭間(さま)から雨が吹き込み、土壁の一部がはがれ落ちた。
  • 近江八幡市の安土城は土砂崩れのため、一部が通行不可。二王門南口の郭から山道側へ幅10メートル、高さ20メートルにわたり土砂が崩落して樹木が倒れ、一部で通行不能に。石垣も数カ所で崩れている。
  • 近江八幡市の重要文化財の旧西川家住宅では主要施設の軒裏の二カ所計〇・三平方メートルがはがれ落ちた。そして郷土史料館の屋根瓦が十枚程度落下した。
  • 高島市の海津大崎は通行止め。
  • 高島市の「八ツ淵の滝」登山道は通行止め。ガリバー青少年旅行村から「八ッ淵の滝」に向かう登山道が、当分の間通行止め。ガリバー青少年旅行村までの車道は通行可能。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 多賀町の河内の風穴への道は通行止めのため、河内の風穴は休業中。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 信楽町神山地先にある「鶏鳴の滝」につながる道路が崩落し、通行禁止。(最新の情報はこちら
  • 栗東市の金勝の里キャンプ場は壊滅状態。
  • 竜王町の観光ブドウ園は壊滅状態。
  • 野洲市の宗泉寺の「木造薬師如来座像」など重文の仏像5体を市歴史民俗博物館へ移した。安置されていた薬師堂の手前まで土砂が迫ったため。
  • 栗東市の阿弥陀寺の重文「木造薬師如来座像」は、寄託先の栗東歴史民俗博物館で、収蔵庫の雨漏りが発生。仏像の左手やひざ部分で、水滴によるしみが発生。
  • 琵琶湖の湖岸の所々には流木やゴミが残っている。注意を。写真

この他の情報が入る次第にこのページを更新します。

関連の記事:
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/130921/shg13092102200000-n1.htm
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130922-00000520-san-soci