Monster Centipede on Mt. Mikami

Tawara-no-Tota Hidesato Slaying the Giant Centipede俵藤太秀郷ムカデ退治(俵藤太物語) Adapted in English by Philbert Ono based on an old folktale. Once upon a time during Japan’s Heian Period in the 10th century, there was a young warrior prince named Fujiwara Hidesato (藤原 秀郷), also known as Tawara-no-Toda (俵藤太). One day, when he was going to cross the Seta Karahashi Bridge in Otsu (Shiga Prefecture), he saw a big commotion at the end of the bridge. “How awful!! What should we do??” “Look at how big it is!!” “I’m too frightened to cross the bridge!” People were fraught with fear and anxiety. When Hidesato

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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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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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Movie review: Idai Naru, Shurarabon

Shurarabon-poster

Lake Biwa and Hikone are getting a PR boost from this movie called, Idai Naru, Shurarabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) currently playing in theaters. (Movie trailer in English at the bottom of this article.) The movie title is making everyone ask, “What the heck is Shurarabon??” It’s not a normal Japanese word, but knowing that the movie was filmed almost entirely in Shiga Prefecture was enough for me to see the movie (and read the manga) to find out. Overall, I thought the movie was good and worth seeing especially if you know Shiga. The story, casting, special effects,

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Autumn festivals and foliage November 2013 in Shiga Prefecture

Recommended festivals, events, exhibitions, and autumn leaves in Shiga Prefecture in November 2013. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) Compiled by Philbert Ono. Oct. 26 – November 24, 2013 ♦ Kunimasu Trout Special Exhibit, Lake Biwa Museum, Kusatsu, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm A special and rare exhibit (the first in western Japan) of live kunimasu trout (Oncorhynchus kawamurae or black kokanee), previously thought to have gone extinct in the 1940s. Kunimasu was an endemic fish found only in Lake Tazawa in Akita Prefecture, but became extinct (along with most other fish species in the lake) in the 1940s when

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Autumn festivals Oct. 2013 in Shiga Prefecture

Oct.-Nov. is another prime time for festivals and events in Japan. Here are some recommended autumn/fall festivals (matsuri) and events in Shiga in October 2013. (Most official Web sites are in Japanese only.) October 1-20, 2013 ♦ Shigaraki Art Festival 2013, Koka, 8:00 am – 9:00 pm Pottery exhibitions (especially tanuki raccoon dog) and noborigama kiln demonstration. Three venues in central Shigaraki, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, and Shigaraki Traditional Craft Center. Held for the second time this year. On Oct. 12-14, the Shigaraki Pottery Festival will also be held mainly at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. The outdoor pottery fair

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Shiga’s Top 10 festivals in April-May

April is a great month. Soon after the onslaught of cherry blossoms, we have an onslaught of festivals (matsuri). This is the time to go out and celebrate the coming of spring, pray for good harvests, and see the traditional splendor of Shiga. The highest number of matsuri are held during these two months, especially during the string of national holidays in late April and early May called Golden Week. During the Golden Week holidays, Shiga has multiple festivals on the same day. To make it easier to decide which ones to see, I’ve picked Shiga Prefecture’s Top 10 Festivals for April-May. I

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Plum blossoms in Shiga Prefecture

Updated: Jan. 4, 2017 Plum blossoms, called ume (梅) in Japanese, have absolutely the sweetest and most pacifying fragrance of all the flowers in Japan. Whenever you see plum blossoms, put your nose right next to the flower and smell. It will sooth your soul. There are many varieties of plum blossoms, but they basically white, pink, or red and each color smells differently. The white ones have the most dainty smell, while the red ones have a stronger and more concentrated sweet smell. Plum blossoms have been an intricate part of Japanese culture, art, and aesthetics for centuries. The term shochikubai

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