Sagicho Matsuri at Omi-Hachiman

The Sagicho Matsuri (左義長まつり) in Omi-Hachiman, Shiga will be held on March 17-18, 2012. This is one of Shiga’s must-see festivals. The annual Sagicho Matsuri is a dramatic parade and clashing of 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats carried around the old streets of the city and in Himure Hachimangu Shrine near Hachiman-bori Moat. On the first day (Sat.), the floats are paraded along the streets near the shrine and undergo judging for best design. The floats are works of art with a motif based on the year’s Oriental zodiac. Since it is the Year of the Dragon, be prepared

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Shiga’s die-cut postcards

Shiga Postcard2

If you’ve been to a post office in Shiga, you probably noticed those unique-shaped, die-cut postcards featuring one of Shiga’s symbols like the Shigaraki tanuki raccoon dog, Hikone Castle, and an Omi shonin merchant. The Japan Post Office has been issuing these charming postcards since 2009. One die-cut postcard per year has been issued for each prefecture. So each prefecture now has three die-cut postcards. Shiga’s die-cut cards issued so far are shown here. In Japanese, they call it gotochi form cards (ご当地フォルムカード). Each prefecture’s die-cut cards are sold only in that prefecture’s post offices. Each card costs 180 yen and

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Kyoto International Photo Showcase 2011

KIPS 2011

日本語 Updated: Our group photo exhibition in Kyoto went very well. It was great meeting people and explaining about our pictures and work. Thank you to all who came to see us. Photos of the exhibition here: Exhibition details: I organized a group photo exhibition in Kyoto held on Nov. 16-20, 2011 at the Kyoto International Community House in Kyoto, near Keage Station (5 min. by Tozai Line subway from Yamashina Station). The exhibition room was open from noon to 7 pm (till 5:30 pm on the 20th). We had a gathering on Nov. 19 (Sat.) at 5 pm

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Oyako photo exhibition in Maibara Station

My friend Bruce Osborn, an American pro photographer based in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture, is now having a grand photo exhibition inside Maibara Station on the Tokaido/Hokuriku Lines in northern Shiga Prefecture. The theme is Oyako (parent and child 親子) portraits. The city of Maibara set up and opened the new Maibara Station Oyako Gallery (米原駅Oyakoギャラリー) on July 16, 2011, and Bruce’s 60+ oyako portraits are the first to be displayed. The exhibition is titled, Kakegae-no-nai-mono (Irreplaceable Things) (かけがえのないもの). If you go out of the ticket wicket, you will immediately see his large portrait panels mounted on the large window in the

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Yokaichi giant kite under construction

Every three years, the giant kite flown at Higashi-Omi’s annual Yokaichi Odako (Giant Kite) Matsuri festival in May is replaced with a new one. And this year in 2010 is when they are building a new giant kite to replace the old one which saw its third and last flight in May 2010. The retired giant kite was installed in the Yokaichi Giant Kite Museum (Yokaichi Odako Kaikan 八日市大凧会館) on July 4, 2010. Meanwhile, the new giant kite is now under construction for about a month from July 10 to Aug. 13, 2010 at the annex behind the museum. The great

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Japan’s oldest clay figure in Higashi-Omi

Making national news in May 2010 was the discovery of Japan’s oldest clay figure (called “doguu” 土偶) in Higashi-Omi. Slightly larger than a human thumbnail, the tiny clay figure is about 1.3 cm tall and depicts the upper torso of a female. Though the head is missing, the figure shows an ample bust and narrower waist. The clay sculpture has been dated as from the early Jomon Period, about 13,000 years ago. It was found in the Aidani-kumahara ruins (相谷熊原遺跡) in Higashi-Omi’s Eigenji area near the Echigawa River. They found it in a pillar hole. The clay figure will be on

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William Merrell Vories exhibition in Omi-Hachiman

The William Merrell Vories exhibition is being held in Omi-Hachiman until Nov. 3, 2009. For 1,000 yen, you can enter a few of the Vories-designed buildings in Omi-Hachiman normally closed to the public. It’s an on-your-own walking tour of Vories buildings starting at Hakuunkan, a Western-style (but not designed by Vories) building across the torii near Hachimanbori. Go inside Hakuunkan and pay 1,000 yen to receive a few tickets to enter the other buildings. You also receive a map of the walking tour. The 2nd floor of the Hakuunkan also has an exhibition on Vories. However, everything is in Japanese.

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