Shiga History 2009

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-December 2009. Compiled by Philbert Ono.

Toyosato Elementary School

Former Toyosato Elementary School renovated.

March 1, 2009: Hikone Prince Hotel is renamed Hikone View Hotel (彦根ビューホテル) upon the change of the hotel ownership from Prince Hotels to a Tokyo-based company called Study, Co., Ltd. The hotel is now part of the Itoen Hotel Group.

March 2009: The six northern Shiga towns of Torahime, Kohoku, Takatsuki, Kinomoto, Yogo, and Nishi-Azai (虎姫、湖北、高月、木之本、余呉、西浅井) took steps to merge with the city of Nagahama on Jan. 1, 2010. The proposed merger was approved by the prefectural government.

Mar. 4, 2009: Caffee (キャッフィー), the mascot character used for Sports Recreation Shiga 2008, was sworn in by Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko as one of Shiga’s official mascots, especially for sports events.
March: The construction of the new Maibara Station is pretty much complete with the opening of the east-west corridor on Mar. 21st.

Mar. 30, 2009: The prefectural government announces that they found at least 44 suspected cases of slush funds or suspicious accounting created for illicit purposes by prefectural government departments and employees. The alleged backdoor money (called uragane 裏金) totaled at least 6.9 million yen.

Mar. 31, 2009: In a rare turnabout of policy, the Construction and Transport Ministry announced that it would freeze construction of Daidogawa Dam (大戸川ダム) in Otsu. The decision was made in consideration of opposition to the dam by the governors of Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka and Mie prefectures. The ministry had stated that the dam was needed to prevent any great flood that may occur. The affected municipalities (Otsu and Uji in Kyoto) and residents, however, were in favor of the dam.

April 2009: The Shiga Lakestars pro basketball team in the bj-league ends their debut season in 5th place with a record of 19 wins and 33 losses.

May 4, 2009: The Nyu Chawan Matsuri festival is held in Yogo for the first time in six years.

May 20, 2009: Shiga’s first case of swine flu (H1N1) is confirmed. A 23-year-old male student at the Biwako-Kusatsu campus of Ritsumeikan University is the first patient in Shiga. His symptoms are not serious and he was hospitalized. The news hits the local tourism industry very hard as school trips to Shiga are canceled. By late Sept. 2009, well over 2,000 people, mainly children, are infected in Shiga.

May 30, 2009: At a total cost of 650 million yen, the old Toyosato Elementary School is completely renovated and reopened to the public with an exhibition room, local public library, children’s room, and offices of the local board of education. The old building was repainted, reinforced against earthquakes, installed with an elevator, and preserved as much as possible. The second floor with classrooms is preserved as it was originally.

June 7, 2009: Hikone’s official mascot, Hiko-nyan, takes his first overseas trip to Hawai’i to appear in the Pan-Pacific Festival parade held along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki.

July 1, 2009: Smoking is banned in and around all major train stations in Otsu.

Aug. 24, 2009: Twelve-year-old Murakami Koji (村川康嗣) dies due to injuries from judo practice at Hatasho Junior High School in Aisho on July 29. Although the judo instructor was found to be at fault, he was not held personally liable for the death of the boy. The boy’s mother unsuccessfully sought damages from the instructor, although the town was held liable and was ordered to pay damage by the court.

Sept. 7, 2009: Kato Tokiko, a famous singer best known for her 1971 recording of Biwako Shuko no Uta, is appointed as a Shiga Hometown Ambassador (Shiga Furusato Taishi) by Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko.

Sept. 12, 2009: The movie, Katen no Shiro (Castle of the Fire God 火天の城) is released to theaters nationwide. The movie is about Okabe Mataemon, a Nagoya (Atsuta)-based master carpenter who in 1576 was ordered by Japan’s leading warlord Oda Nobunaga to build Azuchi Castle on Mt. Azuchi fronting Lake Biwa.

Sept. 19-20, 2009: The first Inazuma Rock Fes is held at Karasuma Peninsula by Shiga-native Nishikawa Takanori, a famous musician known as T.M.Revolution.

Oct. 23-25, 2009: The 2nd Yuru-Kyara (Mascot Character) Matsuri is held on Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road in Hikone. Well over 100 PR mascots adorned the road and posed for pictures. On the first day, most of the mascots appeared on stage at the Hikone Bunka Plaza where singer Hashi Yukio sang the Yuru-chara ondo song.

Click here for Shiga History 2010

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Shiga Lakestars lead Western Conference

Special guest Hiko-nyan and Magnee.

Special guest Hiko-nyan and Magnee at the first game in Hikone.

After one month into the 2009-2010 season, the Shiga Lakestars lead the Western Conference in the bj-league with 7 wins and 3 losses as of November 1, 2009. They won five home games in a row until November 1 when they lost to Takamatsu Five Arrows.

I went to see a game this past two weekends on October 24 (Sat.) against Osaka Evessa in Moriyama (photos here) and on October 31 (Sat.), 2009 in Hikone against Takamatsu Five Arrows (photos here). The game against Osaka was most exciting since it was a very close game. Osaka was a tough team, but in the end our Lakestars came out on top at 66-64. They also beat Osaka the next day in another close game at 83-80.

Unfortunately, Fujiwara Takamichi, the team captain and point guard, suffered a dislocated shoulder on October 25 against Osaka. He will be out of action for several weeks. You can see him at games with a shoulder and arm brace. I wonder how he sleeps.

Hiko-nyan shakes hands with Lakestars Head Coach Robert Pierce.

Hiko-nyan shakes hands with Lakestars Head Coach Robert Pierce.

Luke Zellar is all alone as he dunks it in Hikone.

Luke Zellar is all alone as he dunks it in Hikone.

The game against Takamatsu this past Sat. wasn’t a cliffhanger, as Shiga led comfortably  most of the way, but it was exciting to watch as well. It was also the first time the Lakestars were playing in Hikone. Ticket prices in Hikone were higher than usual. Too bad they lost the next day though, 81-91. The Lakes missed too many shots and free throws. It was their third loss. Kind of surprising since Takamatsu is in last place in the Western Conference with 2 wins and 6 losses. Even though they lost their first home game on November 1 against Takamatsu, the Lakestars showed the spirit of never giving up all the way to the end. We have to give them credit for that. That game was broadcast live by the Biwako Broadcasting Company (BBC).

Lakestars cheerleaders in a new outfit.

Lakestars cheerleaders in a new shimmering silver dress.

Anyway, the Shiga Lakestars are really on a roll, still in first place in the Western Conference. Of course, they still have a long way to go with over 40 more games to play. But it’s a great start and it really boosts morale among the players, coaches, and fans. I’m sure the players will work extra hard to hang onto this No. 1 rank.

Hopefully the Lakestars will continue to do well and in turn attract more fans to see them play. I’ll try to see as many games as I can this season (more than the four games I saw last season). Even though I still disagree with the design of their uniforms with a company’s name (“Goal Free,” which is pretty silly since in English, it means the team has no goals) displayed more prominently than “Shiga Lakestars.” You can’t really tell what team it is at a glance. I wish the bj-league would recognize that the teams should be promoting the respective locale first, and companies second.

Photos of Lakestars vs. Osaka here (Oct. 24, 2009 in Moriyama).

Photos of Laketstars vs. Takamatsu here (Oct. 31, 2009 in Hikone).

My English page for the Lakestars (game schedule, venue locations, player bios, etc.)

Japan Times article about Lakestars in 1st place (Oct. 31, 2009)

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