Videos of 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, May 3 is Constitution Day, May 4 Greenery Day, and May 5 Children’s Day. It is prime time for matsuri festivals in Japan and Shiga has a load of them. There are so many matsuri in Shiga during this time that it took me at least 4 or 5 years to see most of them because many are held at the same time. You really have to decide which one to see. Here is a collection of my video

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Buddhist altars made in Shiga Prefecture

Updated: May 7, 2017 Shiga Prefecture has three handicrafts officially designated as a “Traditional Craft” by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (経済産業大臣指定伝統的工芸品). “Traditional crafts” as defined by the Japanese government are handicrafts used in everyday life that are largely handmade using traditional techniques and traditional materials. And they are made in a specific area. Shiga’s three designated traditional crafts are Omi jofu hemp cloth (近江上布), Shigaraki pottery (信楽焼), and Hikone butsudan (彦根仏壇) or household Buddhist altars made in Hikone. Japan has over thirty cities and areas that produce household Buddhist altars (“butsudan” in Japanese). Fifteen of them are officially designated as a “Traditional Craft Production Area” (伝統的工芸品産地指定) by the Minister of Economy, Trade and

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Happy 50th Anniversary Tokaido Shinkansen

Maibara

Happy 50th anniversary to the Tokaido Shinkansen! The world’s first high-speed train. After about 5 years of construction and test runs, it was on Oct. 1, 1964 when the shinkansen “bullet train” started commercial service between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka Stations. It initially took 4 hours (via Hikari trains) to cover the 515 km (320 mi.) distance at a maximum speed of 210 km/hour (130 mph). By Nov. 1965, travel time was shortened to 3 hr 10 min., and now it’s 2 hr. 25 min. via Nozomi trains. Before the shinkansen, it took 6.5 hours between Tokyo and Osaka by train. A commemorative ceremony

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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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Sept. 2014 festivals and events in Shiga Prefecture

Here are some recommended autumn/fall events and festivals in Shiga in September 2014. Link for video above: http://youtu.be/61q1TvodzOs September 6, 2014 ♦ Nagahama-Azai Appare Matsuri, Nagahama, 9 am – 9:00 pm A big yosakoi dance contest and festival with about 30 teams from Shiga and elsewhere. See over 1,000 dancers performing at Azai Bunka Sports Park (浅井文化スポーツ公園). The teams will dance in the morning on two stages. Sem-finalists will dance at 1:20 pm, and the finalists will dance at 7 pm. In between, there will be other performances and activities like flag waving, mochi throwing, and singers. It will end with fireworks

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The Birth of Chikubushima

chikubushimalegend

Although Shiga has many local legends and folktales, only a few are nationally famous. And fewer still are in English. So I’ve started writing English versions of some of Shiga Prefecture’s legends and folktales. One problem is that these stories usually have different sources, versions, interpretations, and adaptations in Japanese. Instead of trying to decide which is the original or better version and translating it, I’ve created my own adaptation in English based on the basic storyline. My first Shiga folktale in English I’m putting online perhaps matches the current rainy season. Enjoy! The Birth of Chikubushima 竹生島ができたお話 by Philbert Ono,

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Pharrell Williams HAPPY – From Lake Biwa

Video link: http://youtu.be/FKchoOLG2TY Pharrell Williams scored a huge hit with his song Happy last autumn. It has since become a worldwide phenomenon with people in cities around the world making street dance videos with the song. Pretty amazing. The videos show a good bit of the respective locality along with some great dancers. The vids were inspired by Pharrell’s own music video which is the world’s first 24-hour music video with Happy played repeatedly for 24 hours. Fortunately, we can pause and resume the video at will. I’m not one who usually gets on a faddish bandwagon, but I immediately recognized Happy’s PR potential for local destinations. So I

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Skiing in Shiga Prefecture

Updated: Jan. 20, 2018 For information about current snow conditions at Shiga Prefecture’s ski slopes, see Snow Japan’s useful Shiga Prefecture ski resort page in English. For the weather forecast at Shiga Prefecture’s ski slopes, see Weathernews (in Japanese, Adobe Flash required) for Akoyama Snow Pal | Biwako Valley | Hakodateyama | Kunizakai Kogen Snow Park | Kutsuki Snow Park | Makino Kogen | Oku-Ibuki | Yogo Kogen Resort Yap Every winter, I’ve always contemplated writing about skiing in Shiga Prefecture. I never did it until now because I just don’t think the quality of snow in Shiga is up to snuff. I

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