Mayors of Otsu, Hikone, Moriyama, Ritto, Omi-Hachiman oppose Governor Kada’s reelection

Five city mayors in Shiga Prefecture have formed a mayor’s association (市長有志の会) to oppose the reelection of Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko and to support the election of rival candidate Ueno Ken’ichiro. Otsu Mayor Mekata Makoto (目片信), Omi-Hachiman Mayor Fujitani Eisho (冨士谷英正), Hikone Mayor Shishiyama Koyo (獅山 向洋), Moriyama Mayor Yamada Nobuhiro (山田亘宏), and Ritto Mayor Kunimatsu Shoichi (國松 正一) belong to the association. They prodded Shiga’s other mayors to join up, but they apparently declined. Most are well-aware of Kada’s popularity among Shiga voters and some think that mayors should not get involved in gubernatorial campaigns. At least two of

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Omi-Hachiman and Azuchi merge

Omi-Hachiman and the town of Azuchi merged on March 21, 2010. It is now a new city of about 82,000 residents with the city’s name remaining the same. A mayoral election will be held on April 25 to elect the new city’s first mayor. Japan will no longer have a municipality named “Azuchi.” This name is famous as the name of Azuchi Castle built by Oda Nobunaga for which the Azuchi-Momoyama Period of Japanese history is partially named. This successful merger was the second attempt for both municipalities to merge. The first attempt was botched due to opposition by Azuchi

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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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Movie: Katen no Shiro (火天の城)

Released in Japan on Sept. 12, 2009, this 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. The main castle tower or donjon was to have an unprecedented five stories. It was to be the grandest and most lavish castle Japan had ever seen. Mataemon and his crew had only three years to complete the epic construction which they did. The movie shows the major and minor tribulations Mataemon and his crew went through during the construction. The

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Omi-Hachiman to remain “Omi-Hachiman” after merging with Azuchi

As reported earlier, Omi-Hachiman and neighboring Azuchi are planning to merge in March 2010. On May 22, 2009, the deliberation committee for the merger between the two municipalities held a vote to decide the new name of the city after merging. Two proposed names were up for voting: Omi-Hachiman (近江八幡) and Omi-Hachiman-Azuchi (近江八幡安土). It was a close vote, but Omi-Hachiman won the most votes. I’m surprised that “Azuchi” was not one of the options. The Azuchi name is far more famous than Omi-Hachiman. Japan’s Azuchi-Momoyama Period is named after Azuchi Castle built by Oda Nobunaga. It is likely that “Azuchi-cho” will be

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Sister-city exchange students cancel/postpone trips

Due to the spread of swine flu, the Shiga Prefectural Board of Education has decided to cancel all high school student exchange trips to sister cities in Michigan, USA. Some 20 students from Michigan were scheduled to visit Shiga next month for home-stay visits, and 20 students from Shiga were to visit Michigan in Sept. 2009. Earlier, eight junior high school students from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA postponed their trip to Omi-Hachiman scheduled for May 8-16, 2009. Due to fears of swine flu, the Grand Rapids people decided to postpone the homestay trip. As part of their sister-city relationship, Grand

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Omi-Hachiman and Azuchi aiming to merge

On March 26, 2009, Omi-Hachiman’s city council passed a bill to establish the Omi-Hachiman-Azuchi Municipal Merger Deliberation Council (近江八幡市・安土町合併協議会) on April 1 to aim for a municipal merger with neighboring Azuchi town. Azuchi also passed the same bill in their town council on March 25, 2009. They both aim to merge by March 2010. However, a citizens group in Azuchi gathered 4,000 signatures and submitted a petition to the Azuchi Town Council to require a referendum to be held to vote on the issue. Unfortunately, the bill to hold a referendum was rejected by the town council who took a vote

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