Koto Sanzan Temple Trio autumn foliage

Saimyoji

Saimyoji

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 KoraKongorinji (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.

Each temple has its own unique characteristics. Saimyoji’s main temple and pagoda are both National Treasures that you can enter. It’s also deservedly one of Japan’s 100 Grand Autumn Foliage Sites. Kongorinji has many colorfully dressed Jizo statues and a National Treasure main temple 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. Each temple charges admission of ¥600 for adults.

Kongorinji

Kongorinji

Autumn foliage shuttle bus

Autumn foliage shuttle bus

During the autumn foliage season from November 19–27, 2016, convenient, low-cost shuttle buses (Koto Sanzan Shuttle Bus) run every day between these three temples and Hikone Station and Yokaichi Station. You can either start at Hikone Station or Yokaichi Station. At Hikone Station, the first shuttle bus leaves at 9 am and goes to Saimyoji first. From Yokaichi Station, you can get on the first (and only) shuttle bus at 9:45 am to go to Hyakusaiji. It will take most of the day to see all three temples so start as early as you can in the morning. Another option is to also see Eigenji temple in Higashi-Omi. Being a Zen Buddhist temple, it’s not part of the Koto Sanzan Trio, but it is near Hyakusaiji and also famous for autumn leaves. You can either visit Eigenji first by taking a bus from Yokaichi Station, or visit it last after Hyakusaiji.

Hyakusaiji

Hyakusaiji

I recommend starting from Hikone Station so you’ll work your way south by visiting Saimyoji first, then Kongorinji and Hyakusaiji (see shuttle bus schedule below). If you have time, you can take a local bus from Hyakusaiji to Eigenji. If you don’t have time, from Hyakusaiji, you can take the shuttle bus back to Hikone Station (last bus at 4:50 pm) or to Yokaichi Station (last bus at 5 pm). From Yokaichi Station, you can take the Ohmi Railways to JR Omi-Hachiman Station.

Bus fare is ¥200 to ¥600 per ride depending on the distance. They also offer a day pass called Momiji kippu (Maple ticket) for ¥1,800 (¥900 for kids). This day pass includes passage on the shuttle buses and local buses to/from the train stations to the three Koto Sanzan temples and Eigenji and Ohmi Railways trains between Yokaichi and Omi-Hachiman Stations. A good deal if you plan to ride on Ohmi Railways. The Momiji kippu day pass is sold at Hikone Station (west exit bus stop), Omi-Hachiman Station (Ohmi Railways ticket office), and Yokaichi Station. If you like to take your time (for photography, etc.), you might not have time to see all three temples in one day. There are also guided tour buses (teiki kanko bus) departing Nagahama, Kyoto, Maibara, and Hikone Stations that are much more expensive (around ¥8,000) and follow a set tour schedule. The shuttle buses allows you a more flexible schedule, but just remember what time the last bus leaves.

Koto Sanzan Foliage Shuttle Bus Schedule, Hikone Station to Yokaichi (Read down)
Bus StopBus 1Bus 2Bus 3Bus 4Bus 5Bus 6 
Hikone Station9:00 am9:35 am10:00 am11:00 am1:00 pm2:30 pm
Taga Town Hall9:25 am10:00 am10:25 am11:25 am1:25 pm2:55 pm
Seseragi no Sato9:30 am10:05 am10:30 am11:30 am1:30 pm3:00 pm
Saimyoji9:35 am10:10 am10:35 am11:35 am1:35 pm3:05 pm
Kongorinji9:45 am10:45 am11:45 am1:45 pm3:15 pm
Kongoen-guchi9:50 am10:50 am11:50 am1:50 pm3:20 pm
Crefeel Koto9:56 am10:56 am11:56 am1:56 pm3:26 pm
Yomiaido10:00 am11:00 am12:00 pm2:00 pm3:30 pm
Arrive Hyakusaiji10:10 am11:10 am12:10 pm2:10 pm3:40 pm
Depart Hyakusaiji10:20 am11:25 am12:50 pm1:55 pm3:00 pm3:55 pm5:00 pm
Arrive Eigenji*10:40 am11:45 am1:10 pm2:15 pm3:20 pm4:15 pm-
Arrive Yokaichi Station5:25 pm

*From Eigenji, buses bound for Yokaichi Station leave once or twice an hour until 8:27 pm on weekdays or 7:16 pm on weekends and holidays.

Local Bus Schedule, Yokaichi to Eigenji and Hyakusaiji (Read down)
Bus Stop       
Depart Yokaichi Station9:45 amFor Eigenji on weekdays: 8:32 am, 9:10 am, 10:10 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pmFor Eigenji on weekends: 7:50 am, 8:40 am, 9:10 am, 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm
Depart Eigenji-10:50 am11:55 am1:20 pm2:25 pm3:30 pm4:20 pm
Arrive Hyakusaiji10:10 am11:10 am12:15 pm1:40 pm2:45 pm3:50 pm4:40 pm
Koto Sanzan Foliage Shuttle Bus Schedule, Hyakusaiji to Hikone Station (Read down)
Bus StopBus 1Bus 2Bus 3Bus 4Bus 5Bus 6 
Depart Hyakusaiji10:30 am12:05 pm1:30 pm2:50 pm4:10 pm4:50 pm
Yomiaido10:35 am12:10 pm1:35 pm2:55 pm4:15 pm4:55 pm
Crefeel Koto10:39 am12:14 pm1:39 pm2:59 pm4:19 pm4:59 pm
Kongoen-guchi10:45 am12:20 pm1:45 pm3:05 pm4:25 pm5:05 pm
Kongorinji10:50 am12:25 pm1:50 pm3:10 pm4:30 pm5:10 pm
Saimyoji11:00 am12:35 pm2:00 pm3:20 pm4:40 pm5:20 pm
Seseragi no Sato11:05 am12:40 pm2:05 pm3:25 pm4:45 pm5:25 pm
Taga Town Hall11:10 am12:45 pm2:10 pm3:30 pm4:50 pm5:30 pm
Arrive Hikone Station11:40 am1:15 pm2:40 pm4:00 pm5:20 pm6:00 pm
Eigenji

Eigenji

秋の湖東三山
Shuttle bus info in Japanese: http://www.ohmitetudo.co.jp/bus/kotousanzan_shuttle/index.html/
Japanese pamphlet: http://www.ohmitetudo.co.jp/file/bus_kotousanzan_shuttle2016.pdf
Official sites: Saimyoji | Kongorinji | Hyakusaiji

Visiting University of Shiga Prefecture

usp

“Pencil Tower” at the center of the University of Shiga Prefecture.

I finally visited the University of Shiga Prefecture (USP or Shiga Kenritsu Daigaku 滋賀県立大学) for the first time in Jan. 2016. It’s a 15-min. bus ride from JR Minami-Hikone Station. The largely flat, rectangular campus is quite near the shore of Lake Biwa in a rural fishing neighborhood called Hassaka (八坂町) in Hikone. Established by the prefecture, USP is not to be confused with Shiga University (Shiga Daigaku 滋賀大学) which is a national university with a campus adjacent to Hikone Castle.

Founded in 1995, USP has an enrollment of about 2,400 undergraduate and 270 graduate students. They have the School of Environmental Science with over 800 students, School of Engineering with over 700 students, School of Human Cultures with almost 900 students, and School of Nursing with about 300. There were 93 foreign students as of May 2015 with 66 of them coming from China. Only four were from the U.S. as exchange students.

In the School of Human Cultures, the Department of Intercultural Communications has 200 students learning foreign languages. They are required to learn two foreign languages. That must be really tough. Studying just one foreign language is tough enough. Most of them take advantage of the exchange program to study abroad.

Since USP is only 20 years old, the buildings still look new and modern. Different clusters of buildings have different designs to reflect their respective departments such as buildings that look like barns or a hospital.

But the most distinctive structure and symbol of the school is a tower nicknamed “Pencil Tower.” It does look like a pencil, but I’m told that it wasn’t designed to look like a pencil. Too bad we cannot go up the tower since the views must be great from the top. The tower does not seem to serve any purpose except as an architectural focal point and reference point to help you get your bearings on campus.

Scale model of USP. Lake Biwa is toward the top of the photo.

The campus is fairly large, including an athletic field and gymnasium. The central buildings are surrounded by a cherry tree-lined circular moat complete with ducks. (The school even has a duck club to take care of the ducks.) The sports facilities are used only for practice and do not have spectator seats since no sports competitions are held at USP. Competitive games are instead held at public sports facilities elsewhere in Hikone.

USP has no museum (like the Omi merchant museum at Shiga University) nor outdoor sculptures and art galleries (like at Seian University of Art and Design). So what does USP have that could attract visitors? It’s cherry blossoms. There are many sakura trees at the University of Shiga Prefecture. The ones lining the circular moat would look nice when in bloom.

The only thing is, no one knows about USP’s cherry blossoms and Hikone Castle’s cherry blossoms are so famous and easy to get to that no one thinks about seeing cherry blossoms anywhere else in Hikone. USP’s cherry blossoms bloom during spring break when there are hardly any students on campus. The poor cherry blossoms thereby bloom with almost no one to enjoy them. So if you want to enjoy sakura with almost no people around, visit USP around early April.

moat

Circular moat and cherry trees.

Lecture hall

Lecture room with lots of wood.

Cafeteria

Cafeteria

Cafe Pianissimo

Besides the cherry blossoms, the school cafeteria, Cafe Pianissimo, and the small University Shop are open to the public when classes are in session. Lunch in the cafeteria was good and cheap. It gets very crowded during lunch time (11 am–2 pm, 6 pm–8 pm). The cafe next to the auditorium was run by a pair of friendly ladies. Good place for coffee and cake.

The small University Shop is more like a small, neighborhood convenience store. Although it sells books (including books about Shiga), it doesn’t sell textbooks nor USP merchandise like T-shirts and hoodies. (Textbooks are sold in a special area at the start of each school session.) The only USP-branded item I found was a pink pen with the university’s name in Japanese. There was also a bottle of local sake. I guess the school is not big enough to market USP merchandise which is a shame since it can spark and spread school pride. How about selling pencils having the same design as the Pencil Tower? The USP Pencil Tower pencil. Picture postcards of the school would also be nice.

pen

Pen with USP’s name imprinted. Made of recycled materials.

partner universities

Some of USP’s partner universities. (Cal State East Bay is no longer a partner.)

Also visited the Office of International Programs and Development. The director’s office has these flags of some of USP’s overseas partner universities for exchange programs in the U.S. (including Michigan, Shiga’s sister state), Europe, Australia, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Korea. (List of partner schools here.)

Hassaka

Lake Biwa shore in Hassaka, Hikone.

USP’s rural, lakeside neighborhood of Hassaka (八坂町) is quite well known among Japanese-Canadians in Canada. Did you know that the largest group of Japanese immigrants to Canada before World War II came from Shiga? Many came from eastern Shiga, namely Hikone and the old fishing villages of Hassaka and neighboring Oyabu (大藪町). I had thought that most came from Wakayama Prefecture since they even had a museum dedicated to the immigrants. (Too bad that it recently closed.) During WWII, the Japanese immigrants were forced to either relocate to camps in the interior or to return to Japan. So there are descendants in Hikone of those immigrants who returned to Shiga. Sadly, their stories are being lost in Shiga. Even the descendants might not know much about the experiences of their immigrant grandparents or great grandparents.

Something I would like to see at USP is a public exhibition space showing the basic history of Hikone’s immigrant past and some immigrant artifacts donated or loaned by immigrant descendants. The oral histories of those who returned to Shiga should also be recorded. (Their numbers and memories are quickly dwindling.) Back in Feb. 2011, Hikone City Hall had a photo exhibition of Hikone’s immigrants for a short time in the lobby. Shiga should have something more permanent and USP would be the ideal place for it.

Despite the historical connection with Canada, Shiga has only one sister city in Canada, between Higashi-Omi and Taber, Alberta (not a place where the Japanese immigrated). USP also does not have any student exchange partner universities in Canada.

But anyway, USP is a viable choice for students. Somewhat out of the way, but the neighborhood is nice and peaceful.

*Special thanks to former USP associate professor Martin Stack for guiding me around USP. 

Click here for more photos of USP. Below is a video of the cherry blossoms on campus:

Shiga History May–August 2016

fb020-20160822_5176Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s major and interesting news headlines for May–August 2016 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at GMT).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter). Dates and times below are based on GMT instead of Japan time.

2016/5/3 8:59 Beware of bears while hiking in the Suzuka mountains along the border with Mie Pref. Bears have been spotted in Taga.
2016/5/6 23:30 Japan’s badminton team for the Rio Olympics will include two players from Otsu: KAZUNO Kenta (31) and HAYAKAWA Ken’ichi (30) #数野健太 #早川賢一
2016/5/12 20:51 Biwako fishermen numbered 2,926 in 1968 and only 687 in 2013. 57% age 65 or older. Help now available to those wanting to become fishermen.
2016/5/15 12:14 Topaz has been designated as Shiga’s official stone/mineral.
2016/5/15 12:25 Memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the fatal May 14, 1991 collision of a Shigaraki Kogen & JR train was held at the crash site.
2016/5/22 8:24 Monjuro Gate (photo) is 1 of 11 buildings at Enryakuji to be designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. https://t.co/5OFh310jNh
2016/5/25 3:31 King Liu of Taiwanese bicycle maker Giant cycled along Biwako from a Giant shop at Laforet Biwako in Moriyama to promote lakeside cycling.
2016/5/26 2:36 Citizens’ group found that Takashima spent ¥120 mil. to resolve its 7-year illegal dumping & coverup of waste having excessive dioxin. #見張り番
2016/5/30 10:59 滋賀の魅力と発信方法について中日新聞の滋賀版に県内在住の7人の外国人の対談が載せられた。https://t.co/3JXxHGYt6P
2016/5/31 15:12 Memorial service was held on the 1st anniversary of the fatal giant kite crash in Higashi-Omi. Still no talk about continuing the festival.
2016/6/3 12:28 Due to excessive lead levels detected on May 18, incinerated waste from Ritto is being rejected by a Kobe garbage dump.
2016/6/3 12:33 Stressed by power harassment by a superior for a year, an Otsu City Hall worker in his 40s overdosed on tranquilizers & died in March 2015.
2016/6/5 3:19 Weather bureau announced that the rainy season started yesterday in Shiga (Kinki Region), three days earlier than usual.
2016/6/8 15:04 Ritto City Hall social welfare case worker Fujikuma Toshihiro (33, 藤熊俊宏) arrested for exposing himself to high school girls on a Kyoto train.
2016/6/9 17:25 Age 40 Enryakuji priest verbally reprimanded for hitting and injuring three younger priests earlier this year. One victim broke his eardrum.
2016/6/12 12:37 Hikone-native sprinter Kiryu Yoshihide (20) couldn’t break the 9-sec. barrier at a college meet in Hiratsuka with 10.1 sec. in the 100 m.
2016/6/14 12:32 For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Shiga & Otsu will be the host town for Denmark’s rowing team & Maibara will host New Zealand’s hockey team.
2016/6/15 1:11 Blog post about Biwako Nagahama Kannon House that opened in Tokyo in March. https://t.co/bJ2XkgLu7W
2016/6/17 14:35 Jiun-in Kannon temple in Maibara was burglarized & three Buddha statues valued at ¥13.5 mil. were found stolen on June 16. 慈雲院本荘観音堂
2016/6/20 22:57 Miyagino Stable held sumo practice in Nagahama on June 17–20. On the 19th, local people could see Yokozuna Hakuho & others practice.
2016/6/22 20:11 Opened in 1974, AL Plaza Otsu (Heiwado) at Otsu Station closed on June 20. To be replaced by a condo with a supermarket on the lower floors.
2016/6/25 13:17 Japan National Championships today saw Kiryu Yoshihide place 3rd in the 100 m finals (10.31 sec.), earning him a slot at the Rio Olympics.
2016/6/29 7:39 My latest video shows the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri festival, soon to be a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. https://t.co/rMOMixEywi
2016/7/6 13:23 Over 40 Nagahama Kannon statues at University Art Museum (東京藝術大学美術館), Tokyo Univ. of the Arts July 5–Aug. 7, 2016. https://t.co/rpZQ3DOs5v
2016/7/13 11:45 Hikone, Maibara, and Nagahama will have a booth at Taiwan’s largest Japan tourism expo (“Touch the Japan”) to be held July 17–20, 2016.
2016/7/13 11:51 As of June 30, Hikone Castle received donations from visitors totaling ¥896,888 for Kumamoto Castle. The total has been given to Kumamoto.
2016/7/13 16:05 Summer 2016 fireworks schedule in Shiga Prefecture: https://t.co/H8HHzwmWEZ
2016/7/14 3:36 Lake Biwa Museum reopened today for their 20th anniv. after major renovations that include new exhibits like a Baikal seal from Lake Baikal.
2016/7/19 1:54 Went to see the Nagahama Kannon exhibition in Tokyo that goes on until Aug. 7. https://t.co/5zlzvknBzl
2016/7/22 10:09 The Mizunomori Lotus Pond in Kusatsu is almost extinct this year. No flowers at all. Cause is still unknown. https://t.co/mtCMRLDBxw
2016/7/24 13:48 Shigaraki Fire Festival last night. Not crowded at all. Their kilns worship fire. Missed the 9 pm fireworks though. https://t.co/sIuEKoHQMa
2016/7/26 0:57 In Otsu, a man (21) was playing Pokemon Go while driving & hit a car at a stop light causing a 3-car collision & neck injury to a driver.
2016/7/28 8:51 Ohmi High School beat Takashima 3-0   yesterday to represent Shiga at the national high school baseball tournament at Koshien this summer.
2016/7/28 14:52 Omi Jingu Shrine saw a record 402,000 visitors during Jan.–June this year, thanks to the Chihayafuru movie that hit theaters in March.
2016/8/1 18:27 Let’s cheer on the Olympic athletes from Shiga Prefecture in Rio de Janeiro! Shiga athlete list here: https://t.co/prgef7ZFTZ
2016/8/7 14:17 Hikone Weather Bureau has issued a high-temperature warning for Shiga 8 days in a row. More hot days (35˚C or higher) expected. Keep cool!
2016/8/7 15:31 OTA Yuki all but announced his retirement after losing his first fencing match in Rio against Brazilian TOLDO Guilherme.
2016/8/11 13:24 Hordes of people visited sunny Mt. Ibuki today on Aug. 11, 2016, Japan’s new national holiday called Mountain Day. https://t.co/vPdAMZphGx
2016/8/13 10:00 Ohmi High School lost to Joso Gakuin 0-11 in their 1st game on Aug. 9, 2016 at the Summer Koshien national high school baseball tournament.
2016/8/13 15:56 In Rio, KIRYU Yoshihide ran 100 m in 10.23 sec. which was not enough to advance to the semifinals like Cambridge and Yamagata.
2016/8/15 8:05 Maibara rice paddy art of Yokosuka mascot Sucurry by Taura Jr. High students who visited from Yokosuka, Kanagawa. https://t.co/rEjp5b3fPG
2016/8/16 19:18 Omi-Hachiman native INUI Yukiko & partner MITSUI Risako won the Bronze medal in Duet synchronized swimming in Rio! https://t.co/8lftbirLrs
2016/8/19 17:18 Team Captain INUI Yukiko (from Omi-Hachiman) & her team won the Bronze in Team synchronized swimming in Rio! https://t.co/thV09Mf6uz
2016/8/20 2:30 Hikone native KIRYU Yoshihide & his 3 track mates won the Silver in the Men’s 400m relay race in 37.60 sec. in Rio! https://t.co/o1WbyNvAlb
2016/8/25 14:01 New edition of Japan Post’s die-cut postcards (gotochi form card) are out. Shiga’s latest one is red devil’s tongue. gotochiFormCard2016
2016/8/26 1:09 Only 8.9% of CEOs in Shiga are female, lower than the 11.9% national average. That’s 1,991 women out of 22,479 Shiga companies as of 2015.
2016/8/26 1:13 Due to a lack of rain, Lake Biwa’s water level is 43 cm below the standard level, the lowest in Aug. in 8 years. No adverse effects yet.
2016/8/28 2:58 Age 21 teacher’s assistant (籔中博文) from Nagahama arrested for putting a video camera inside a girls’ restroom at a Kusatsu public high school
2016/8/29 10:45 Nagahama City Hall received a 12 pm bomb threat again by phone this morning. Everyone evacuated by 11:30 am and returned safely at 12:30 pm.
2016/8/31 12:18 A group in Nagahama is soliciting donations to build a monument for “Biwako Shuko no Uta” (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) at Hokoen Park next June.

Shiga History Jan.–April 2016Chronological History of Shiga | Shiga History Sept–Dec. 2016

Olympic athletes from Shiga Prefecture in Rio de Janeiro

がんばれ!ニッポン!

Updated: Aug. 20, 2016

The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in Brazil will be held on August 5–21, 2016 (Paralympics on Sept. 7–18). Out of 300+ Olympic athletes from Japan, the following Olympians are from Shiga Prefecture. To see when they will appear, click on “Olympic schedule” (NBC website). This link will also give the athlete’s results as they come in.
滋賀出身・滋賀ゆかりのリオデジャネイロのオリンピック選手を応援しよう!

KIRYU Yoshihide (桐生祥秀), Track (Men’s 100 meters)

Kiryu (b. 1995) is one of Japan’s major track stars and native of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. A top-notch sprinter since 2013. He’s often in the news. Started running from when he attended Minami Junior High School in Hikone. His record time in the 100 m is 10.01 sec. and 9.87 sec. His track mates like Aska CAMBRIDGE are also awesome runners and it’s impossible to say who will prevail in Rio.

English bio | Japanese bio | Twitter | Olympic schedule & result

OTA Yuki (太田 雄貴), Fencing

Hailing from Otsu, Ota (b. 1985) won the national fencing championship while in elementary school and junior high. He went on to win the national high school championships (Inter-High School Championship) three years in a row. Graduated from Doshisha University. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he became the first Japanese to make it to the finals in fencing and brought home a silver medal. He gained national attention for winning the team silver medal at London. Then in Sept. 2013, he was in the spotlight again as a member of the JOC trying to get the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo. When “Tokyo 2020” was announced, his joyful face made national headlines. At the 2015 World Fencing Championships, he won the gold medal in the Men’s foil event. Ota is ranked No. 1 in the world as of the 2015-16 season.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

Kimura Saori at London 2012. (By Gary Howden from Brighton, United Kingdom)

Toray Arrows: KIMURA Saori, SAKODA Saori, TASHIRO Kanami (木村沙織、迫田さおり、田代 佳奈美), Women’s volleyball

Three members of the Otsu-based Toray Arrows women’s volleyball team will be in Rio. Both Kimura (b. 1986) and Sakoda (b. 1987) played in the London Olympics where they won the bronze medal. Tashiro (b. 1991) is from Ritto, Shiga. Influenced by her mom who played, she started playing volleyball from 1st grade and joined Toray Arrows in 2009. Meanwhile, the 185 cm-tall Kimura will be the national team’s captain in Rio. She will be the first Japanese volleyball player to play in four consecutive Olympic games. A real veteran and major volleyball star. The Japan women’s national volleyball team (Hinotori Nippon, 火の鳥NIPPON) is currently ranked 5th in the world. The Toray Arrows belong to the V.Premier League, Japan’s top volleyball league. The team is owned by Toray Industries, a major textile maker with factories in Shiga. Their home court is Toray Arena in Otsu.

English bio (Wikipedia): Kimura | Sakoda | Tashiro
Japanese bio (Wikipedia): Kimura | Sakoda | Tashiro
Japanese bio (Arrows): Kimura | SakodaTashiro
Facebook | Website (English) | Olympic schedule & result

INUI Yukiko (乾 友紀子), Duet synchronized swimming

Inui Yukiko (b. 1990) is an Omi-Hachiman native who started synchronized swimming from the 1st grade. At age 16, she placed 3rd in the solo competition at the Junior World Championships. Graduated from Omi Kyodaisha High School in Omi-Hachiman and Ritsumeikan University. Together with her duet partner KOBAYASHI Chisa (小林千紗), she won the national championship for duet synchronized swimming in 2009 and placed 3rd in the World Cup in 2010. The pair competed together in the 2012 London Olympics and placed 5th. Wish her luck in Rio for a medal.

English bio Japanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

NISHIMURA Ayaka (西村 綾加), Women’s Hockey

Ayaka and Minami (from Maibara's website).

Ayaka and Minami (Photo: Maibara website).

Ayaka (b. 1989) is from Maibara (Ibuki). Yay! She started playing hockey after seeing her older brother and sister play. (Maibara is a hockey hotbed.) She has been playing for the Hiroshima-based Coca-Cola West Red Sparks hockey team since 2012. She appeared in the 2015 World League semi-finals.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

SHIMIZU Minami (清水 美並), Women’s Hockey

There’s not one, but two Olympian women hockey players from Maibara. And both are from Ibuki. How about that. I’ve heard that the folks in Ibuki are making a big deal out of this. Minami (b. 1993) graduated from Ibuki High School and plays for the Sony HC BRAVIA Ladies hockey team based in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture. She’s actually one of nine players from Sony HC BRAVIA going to Rio to play on Japan’s women’s hockey team (dubbed “Sakura Japan”). Her position is FW. What a thrill it must be for both of them to be in Rio. Something that will bond them for the rest of their lives.

English bioJapanese bioFacebook | Olympic schedule & result

ISEDA Megumi (伊勢田 愛), Women’s Windsurfing

Charming girl (b. 1987) from Takashima, Shiga Prefecture. The kanji character for her first name is pronounced “Megumi” instead of “Ai.” Interesting that her father ran a windsurfing shop in Takashima so she was exposed to the sport since childhood. But ironically, she didn’t care for it until she went to college. While at Doshisha University, she won the All Japan collegiate championship. She qualified for the Rio Olympics by placing 21st at the 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships held in Oman. She always practiced windsurfing on Lake Biwa and wants to promote windsurfing at Biwako. While practicing in Rio in July, a school of dolphins surprised (welcomed?) her.

English bioJapanese bioBlog | Olympic schedule & result

KAZUNO Kenta (数野 健太), Badminton

Native of Otsu, Kazuno (b. 1985) attended Hie-zan High School and Nihon Univ. He specializes in badminton doubles. Joined UNYSIS in 2008. He won the mixed doubles at the 2015 All Japan Championships. He also won the Osaka International Challenge doubles three times in a row, won the Polish Open Men’s Doubles in 2015 (with Yamada Kazushi), and won the Malaysia Masters Men’s Doubles (with Yamada Kazushi). He is the captain of Japan’s badminton team in Rio. Let’s see if he can continue his winning streak in Rio.

English bioJapanese bioFacebook | Olympic schedule & result

HAYAKAWA Kenichi (早川 賢一), Badminton

Another badminton Olympian from Otsu. Hayakawa (b. 1986) has been playing badminton since elementary school. Attended Hie-zan High School and Nihon Univ. Like Kazuno Kenta, he belongs to UNYSIS and specializes in badminton doubles. Men’s doubles runner-up (with Endo Hiroyuki) at the 2016 All England Super Series Premier.

English bioJapanese bioOlympic schedule & result

*Marathon runner KITAJIMA Hisanori (北島寿典) was born in Koka, Shiga, but moved to Maebashi, Gunma as an infant.

KIMURA Keiichi (木村 敬一), Paralympics Swimming

Born in Ritto in 1990, Keiichi has been totally blind since age 2. From 4th grade, he took up swimming. He made the Japanese Olympic team in Beijing in 2008 and in London 2012. In London, he won the silver medal for the 100 m breaststroke and bronze for the 100 m butterfly. Rio will be his third consecutive Paralympics.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule

MIYAJI Mitsuhide (宮路 満英), Paralympics Equestrian

Last but not least is an amazing story and struggle behind 58-year-old Miyaji Mitsuhide joining the Paralympics for the first time. Originally from Kagoshima, Miyaji is a former race horse trainer at the Ritto Training Center and lives in Konan. In 2005, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side and affected his speech. As part of his rehabilitation, he took up equestrian activities. With much struggle and support from his wife, he got good enough to enter the Rio Paralympics.

English bio | Japanese bio | Twitter | Facebook | Video | Olympic schedule

GOOD LUCK to all the athletes in Rio!!

Japan Olympic Team Facebook | JOC (English)

Summer 2016 fireworks in Shiga Prefecture

hanabi

Here’s the 2016 summer fireworks (hanabi) schedule for Shiga Prefecture (Shiga-ken hanabi) listed by date. Keep in mind that foul weather is always possible and fireworks can be canceled.

Updated: July 14, 2016

Essential vocabulary
Hanabi (花火) – fireworks
Hanabi Taikai (花火大会) – fireworks (sometimes a contest)
Natsu Matsuri (夏まつり) – Summer festival
Noryo (納涼) – Enjoying the cool of a summer evening (at a river, park, etc.)

Compiled by Philbert Ono

July 9, 2016
♦ Takamiya Noryo Hanabi Taikai in Takamiya, Hikone, 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Near the Inugami River Muchinbashi Bridge. 10-min. walk from Ohmi Railways Takamiya Station. If rained out, to be postponed to July 10.
高宮納涼花火大会
More info: 高宮商工繁栄会 TEL:0749-22-2075
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/takamiya.html

July 16, 2016
♦ Echigawa Gion Noryo Hanabi Taikai in Aisho, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
At two locations along the Echigawa River bank near Miyukibashi Bridge. 15-min. walk from Ohmi Railways Echigawa Station. If rained out, to be postponed to July 23. About 40,000 people are expected.
愛知川祇園納涼祭花火大会
More info: 愛知川駅コミュニティハウスるーぶる愛知川 TEL:0749-42-8444
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/echigawa.html

Canceled in 2016: ♦ Yasu River Hanabi Taikai in Ritto, ?? pm – ?? pm
Along the Yasu River. 20-min. walk from JR Moriyama Station. A variety of activities (hot air balloon rides, flea market, and more) will held in the afternoon. If rained out, to be postponed to July ??.
野洲川花火大会
More info: 栗東市観光物産協会 TEL:077-551-0126
http://tinyurl.com/ozeotyj

July 23, 2016
♦ Otsu Shiga Hanabi Taikai fireworks, 7:45 pm – 8:30 pm
Watch the fireworks over the lake from the famous Omi-Maiko beach. Near JR Omi-Maiko Station (Kosei Line) in western Otsu. If rained out, to be postponed to July ??.
大津志賀花火大会
More info: 大津志賀花火大会実行委員会 TEL:077-592-0378\

July 30, 2016
♦ Koka Natsu Matsuri fireworks in Minakuchi, Koka, 7:45 pm – 8:30 pm
Koka’s biggest fireworks display held along Yasu River. Part of a local festival of stage entertainment, games, and food stalls. Near Ohmi Railways Minakuchi Jonan Station.
甲賀夏まつり
More info: 甲賀市観光協会 TEL:0748-60-2690

Nagahama Port during fireworks.

Nagahama Port during fireworks.

Aug. 1, 2016
♦ Hikone Dai-Hanabi Taikai at Matsubara Beach, Hikone, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
35-min. walk from Hikone Station. Shuttle buses provided from Hikone Station to a sports ground from which it’s a 15-min. walk to the beach. If rained out, to be postponed to Aug. 2.
彦根大花火大会
More info: (社)彦根観光協会 Phone: 0749-23-0001
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/hikone.html

♦ Ogoto Onsen Noryo Hanabi Taikai in Ogoto Port, Otsu, 8 pm – 8:30 pm
20-min. walk from Ogoto Onsen Station. Fireworks can be seen from most onsen (hot spring) ryokan and outdoor baths in Ogoto. If rained out, to be postponed to Aug. 2.
おごと温泉納涼花火大会
More info: おごと温泉観光協会 Phone: 077-578-1650
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/ogoto.html

♦ Omi-Imazu Furusato Natsu Matsuri, Takashima, 9:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Climax of Imazu’s summer festival starting from 1 pm.
近江今津ふるさと夏祭り やっさ!今津!!2016
More info: 近江今津ふるさと夏まつり実行委員会事務局 Phone: 0740-22-2108

Aug. 4, 2016
♦ Nagahama Kita-Biwako Hanabi Taikai at Nagahama Port, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
10-min. walk from Nagahama Station. Very crowded so go early to save a spot or pay for special seating for 1,500 yen or 2,500 yen. If rained out, to be postponed to Aug. 5.
長浜・北びわ湖大花火大会
More info: 長浜市観光振興課 Phone: 0749-65-6521
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/nagahamakitabiwako.html

Aug. 6, 2016
♦ Makino Summer Carnival at Makino Sunny Beach, Takashima
マキノサマーカーニバル2016
More info: 四季遊園マキノ交流促進協議会事務局 Phone: 0740-28-8002

♦ Takashima Summer Festival at Makino Sunny Beach, Takashima, 9:00 pm
2016たかしま夏まつり
More info: たかしま夏まつり実行委員会 Phone: 0740-36-2011

♦ Ujisato Matsuri Summer Gathering in Hino, 8:45 pm – 9 pm
Fireworks is the climax of this summer festival (bon dance, etc.) held in the northern parking lot of Hino Town Hall starting in mid-afternoon.
氏郷まつり「夏の陣」2016
More info: 日野町イベント実行委員会 Phone: 0748-52-6562
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/ujisato.html

♦ Kotonarie Summer Festa in Higashi-Omi’s Hibari Park
Part of an illumination and music festival. 20-min. by bus from Yokaichi Station. Fireworks start at 8:40 pm.
コトナリエサマーフェスタ2015
More info: 東近江市湖東商工会 Phone: 0749-45-2571
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/kotonarie.html

♦ Konan Natsu Matsuri in Konan, fireworks at 8:00 pm
Fireworks is the climax of this summer festival (Goshu Ondo bon dance, stage entertainment, etc.) held at the Yasugawa River Shinzui Koen park (野洲川親水公園).
湖南市夏まつり
More info: 湖南市観光協会 Phone: 0748-71-2157
http://www.burari-konan.jp/

Aug. 8, 2016
♦ Biwako Dai-Hanabi Taikai at Hama-Otsu and Nagisa Park, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
This is the big one, but a steep admission (around 4,300 yen, even for children above age 3) is charged in prime viewing areas along Hama-Otsu. Hama-Otsu Port will be totally walled off so you cannot see the fireworks from the street. Farther away is the free area along Nagisa Park which is terribly crowded with people reserving viewing spots from noon. Spectacular show, but have fun trying to get home via the tiny nearby train stations or gridlocked roads afterward. Foul weather will postpone it to Aug. 10. (If the weather is questionable, call 0180-99-3339 to find out if the fireworks will be held or not.)
びわ湖大花火大会
More info: びわ湖大花火大会実行委員会 TEL: 077-511-1530
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/biwako.html

Aug. 16, 2016
♦ Somagawa Natsu Matsuri near Kibukawa Station, Koka
Fireworks are part of the summer festival with taiko drummers and lantern floating on the river.
杣川夏まつり
More info: 甲賀市観光協会 Phone: 0748-65-0708

Aug. 17, 2016
♦ Takebe Taisha Senkosai Fireworks at Seta River in Otsu, 8:00 pm – 9 pm
Near Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge. Short walk from Karahashi-mae Station on the Keihan Line. Fireworks will climax the waterborne Takebe Taisha Senkosai festival on boats.
瀬田川花火大会
More info: 建部大社 Phone: 077-545-0038
http://kansai.pia.co.jp/special/hanabi2016/kyoto_shiga/takebe.html

Aug. 25, 2016
♦ Kinomoto Jizo Dai-ennichi fireworks near JR Kinomoto Station
Climax of a local festival with food stalls and games held during Aug. 22-25.
木之本地蔵大縁日 8月22日(日)~25日(水)(花火は25日のみ)
More info: ふるさと夏まつり実行委員会 Phone: 0749-82-5900
http://kitabiwako.jp/event/event_9406/

1 2 3 4 78