Autumn festivals and foliage November 2017 in Shiga Prefecture

Recommended festivals (matsuri), events, exhibitions, and fall leaves in Shiga Prefecture in November–December 2017. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) Compiled by Philbert Ono. Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 November 3, 2017 ♦ 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

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Setsubun Festivals in Shiga Prefecture

February 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring (Feb. 4) according to the lunar calendar. They hold a religious ceremony and then throw fuku-mame lucky beans (dry soybeans) for worshippers to catch. They may also throw beans at ogre (oni) to chase away evil and bad luck (symbolized by the oni) and bring in good fortune (fuku). They usually shout, “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (鬼は外! 福は内! Out with bad luck! In with good fortune!). The bean-throwing is called mame-maki. Like giving New Year’s prayers, Setsubun is a popular event because many people want

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Zensuiji showing hidden Buddha

Zensuiji is one of the three Tendai Buddhist temples (called Konan Sanzan 湖南三山) in Konan, Shiga Prefecture designated as a National Treasure. The elegant lines of the thatched roof, Japanese gardens, and colorful autumn leaves make Zensuiji one of Shiga’s most aesthetic and popular temples. Its main object of worship (Honzon 本尊) is Yakushi Nyorai Ruriko Nyorai (薬師瑠璃光如来), the Buddha of Medicine and Healing. It is a statue of a seated Buddha normally hidden from view in the Hondo main temple hall built in 1366. However, for the first time in 14 years, this main statue will be exposed for public

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Yahei hot chili peppers in Konan

Updated: June 1, 2018 Meet Yukiyo Mitaka and Yuzu Sasaki (三峰 教代・佐々木 由珠), a young and peppy pair of hot chili pepper farmers in Konan, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Under their company name and brand of fm craic (not a radio station), they grow a unique and local variety of super-hot chili peppers called yahei togarashi (弥平とうがらし). They plant, grow, harvest, process, package, and sell the yahei hot chili peppers as blended spices, sauces, and confections. They do everything by themselves. Just the two of them. They’ve also become media darlings, appearing in numerous Japanese print media and even on TV. And they now appear here at

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Konan Sanzan Zensuiji temple in autumn

Finally visited Zensuiji temple (善水寺) in Konan, Shiga Prefecture during autumn. The first and last time I visited this temple was during spring. Although it was pleasant in spring, I now have to say that it’s much more colorful in autumn. These photos were taken yesterday, so the maples should still look good during the next few days. Zensuiji was established in the 8th century and it is one of the Konan Sanzan Trio (湖南三山) of Tendai Buddhist temples in Konan (other two are Chojuji and Jorakuji). All three temples are National Treasures. Zensuiji’s impressive main Hondo Hall is a

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Autumn festivals and foliage November 2014 in Shiga Prefecture

Recommended festivals, events, exhibitions, and autumn leaves in Shiga Prefecture in November 2014. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) Compiled by Philbert Ono. Updated: Nov. 5, 2014 Video link: http://youtu.be/ve0KVtx_u74 November 3, 2014 ♦ 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 in the Haiden worship hall and the archery begins at 1 pm along the main path to the shrine serving as the horse track. Expert archers

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October 2014 autumn festivals and events in Shiga Prefecture

Here are some recommended autumn/fall festivals (matsuri) and events in Shiga in October 2014. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) Updated: Oct. 17, 2014 October 4-November 3, 2014 ♦ W.M. Vories 50th Memorial in Omi-Hachiman, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (enter by 4 pm) To mark the 50th anniversary of William Merrell Vories’ passing on May 7, 1964, a month-long event will be held in Omi-Hachiman where you can see and sometimes enter around ten of the buildings he designed in central Omi-Hachiman. Some of the buildings will include panel exhibitions, and some buildings cannot be entered. Born

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