Crown Prince Naruhito visits Shiga Prefecture

Crown Prince Naruhito (Japan’s next emperor) arrived in Shiga Prefecture on July 23, 2012 for an official visit to attend a blood donation promotion convention (献血運動推進全国大会) to be held in Otsu on July 24. His Imperial Highness arrived via shinkansen bullet train at JR Maibara Station where he was welcomed by Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada. He then proceeded by car to Higashi-Omi where he toured Gokasho, visiting the stately homes of Omi merchants. Gokasho has been preserving its traditional townscape with Japanese-style homes, warehouses, and gardens. The Crown Prince was impressed by the serenity and the efforts of the local residents

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Summer 2012 in Shiga Prefecture

Japan has re-entered the age of nuclear power, starting with Shiga’s backyard. Despite widespread opposition, the Japanese government has given the green light to restart the Oi nuclear power plants in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, Japan’s mecca of nuclear power plants. On July 1, 2012, they began firing up two Oi nuclear power plants amid protests near the power plant and many thousands of protestors in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in Tokyo. The protesters have received relatively little Japanese media attention. It’s no wonder because many news media executives (including NHK) also serve (or served) in executive positions at the

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Shiga treated to annular solar eclipse

A large swath of Japan was treated to an annular solar eclipse at around 7:30 am on May 21, 2012. People in southeastern Shiga Prefecture joined the masses in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka to view the rare annular eclipse over most of Japan’s Pacific Ocean side. The rest of Japan could at least see a partial eclipse. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and Earth and casts a shadow on Earth. The moon is farther away from Earth than during a total solar eclipse, so it does not cover the sun totally, exposing only

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Golden Week festivals in Shiga

Golden Week is Japan’s spring vacation from late April to early May with a string of national holidays. April 29 is Showa Day (set to April 30 this year since the 29th is Sun.), May 3 is Constitution Day, May 4 Greenery Day, and May 5 Children’s Day. This year’s calendar in 2012 can make it a nine-day holiday for the working folk if they only take off on two working days (May 1 and 2). In Shiga, it is prime time for matsuri festivals. There are so many matsuri during this time that it took me at least 4 or

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Hina-matsuri doll festivals in Shiga

Updated: Feb. 15, 2017 Hina-matsuri dolls (雛祭りの雛人形) are being displayed at the following locations in eastern Shiga to celebrate Girl’s Day on March 3. Gokasho, Higashi-Omi: Normal hina ningyo dolls are displayed in the Omi-shonin merchant homes and museums. They are on display from Feb. 1 to March 20, 2017 (9:30 am to 5:00 pm, closed on Feb. 6) in the former residences of Tonomura Uhee (外村 宇兵衛), Tonomura Shigeru (外村 繁), Nakae Jungoro (中江 準五郎), and Fujii Hikoshiro (藤井 彦四郎邸). The homes are large, stately Japanese-style mansions. Must-see for architecture buffs. Buy a single ¥600 ticket and you can enter all the

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Heavy snowfall in Shiga

Shiga and the Japan Sea Coast (especially Niigata Prefecture) got a heavy dump of snow during Feb. 2 and 3, 2012. Nagahama and Imazu (Takashima) in northern Shiga have gotten over 70 cm of snow. On Feb. 3, some 160 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Forces were dispatched to Imazu to help remove snow. The last time they dispatched military personnel for snow removal was 31 years ago in Jan. 1981. On the morning of Feb. 3, people in central Nagahama, such as in Kurokabe Square, were busy shoveling snow. Maibara and Hikone also got a good amount of snow.

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New Year’s worshippers in Shiga

The Shiga Prefectural Police Department has estimated that 1.31 million people will pray at shrines and temples in Shiga during the first three days of 2012. This is more than New Year’s in 2011. Going to pray at a shrine or temple during New Year’s is called hatsumode (初詣). Shiga’s most popular shrines during New Year’s and the estimated number of worshippers during the first three days of the 2012 have been announced as follows: 1. Taga Taisha Shrine (多賀大社) in Taga, next to Hikone, 470,000 worshippers 2. Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine (長浜八幡宮) in Nagahama, 150,000 worshippers 3. Omi Jingu Shrine (近江神宮)

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More GW festival videos

Two more Golden Week (late April – early May) festival videos and photos. Held on May 4 near Notogawa Station, the Iba-no-saka-kudashi Matsuri Festival is said to be one of the most unusual festivals. Young men carry (or drag) three heavy portable shrines down a steep mountain riddled with rough spots. I stayed near the bottom or finish line and declined to go up any further because I was too heavy with camera equipment and the slope was too steep. Here’s the video: Video link: http://youtu.be/r_FYQwW_l-4 Photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=829 Another festival I saw was at Namura Shrine in Ryuo on May 5,

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