Nagahama Castle (reconstructed) in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture is a lakeside castle within Hokoen Park. The original castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century who lived in Nagahama Castle until 1582. The current building was reconstructed in 1983. It serves as a history museum. Hokoen Park fronting Lake Biwa is noted for cherry blossoms and plum blossoms. Near JR Nagahama Station. Also see my YouTube video here. More about Nagahama here.
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This is the heart of Nagahama's popular shopping district. "Kurokabe" means black wall. A glass shop and workshop, the Otemon-dori shopping arcade, the Hikiyama Museum, and the Ando House are the main attractions.
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Held by the Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine, the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri is Nagahama's most famous festival featuring authentic kabuki plays performed by boys around April 15. Several ornate floats on wheels serve as the stage for talented young actors. The floats are paraded along the main street as they a few stops to put on the kabuki plays. These photos were taken in 2009. Also see my YouTube video.
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Chikubushima is an island in northern Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture. Easily accessible by boat from Nagahama and Imazu, the island has a large temple complex called Hogonji which includes buildings designated as National Treasures.
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The site of a historic battle between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie, Mt. Shizugatake today provides grand views of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. Take a bus from Kinomoto Station on the JR Hokuriku Line, get off at Ooto. Then go up the chair lift. The mountain also has a few hiking trails. More about Kinomoto here.
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Nagahama Sengoku Taiga Furusato-haku, or Nagahama Warring States Hometown Expo, is a feudal history expo held from March 24 to Dec. 2, 2012. The expo highlights three areas of interest in Nagahama: Odani Castle and Azai, Kinomoto and Mt. Shizugatake, and central Nagahama and Chikubushima island. The main expo pavilion is in Kinomoto. The expo focuses on the Battle of Shizugatake and Anegawa River.
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In concert with NHK TV’s year-long Taiga Drama called Go–Himetachi no Sengoku (Go–Noble Ladies of Feudal Japan), Nagahama is holding a year-long mini expo called Go and Azai Sister Trio Expo (Go–Azai Sanshimai Hakurankai 江・浅井三姉妹博覧会) from Jan. 15 to Dec. 4, 2011.
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Odani Castle in northern Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, was originally built in 1524 atop Mt. Odani (495 m). The Azai clan called it home for three generations until Azai Nagamasa was defeated by Oda Nobunaga in 1573. Nobunaga bestowed the castle to Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi. However, Toyotomi built and occupied a castle in Nagahama, abandoning Odani. No buildings have survived, but there are many rock walls and foundations remaining. Odani Castle is set to enjoy the spotlight in 2011 when NHK TV will broadcast a year-long period drama centering on one of Nagamasa's daughters named Go.
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Lake Yogo is a small but scenic and serene lake north of Lake Biwa. It is famous for the legend of the swan maiden. You can walk or bicycle around the lake. Near Yogo Station on the JR Hokuriku Line. Rental bicycles available at Yogo Station.
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One of Shiga's rarest and unusual festivals was held for the first time in six years on May 4, 2009. Held by Niu Shrine deep in a mountain valley of Yogo in northern Nagahama, the festival featured sacred dances by boys dressed as girls, three floats topped with lofty "balancing act" decorations, and a procession of colorful dancers. Also see my YouTube video here.
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This temple is noted for its giant statue of Jizo, one of Japan's three largest Jizo statues. Jizo is the guardian deity of children and travelers. The temple's real name is Joshinji (浄信寺). It's along the old Hokkoku Kaido road going to the Hokuriku region. The temple's Kinomoto Jizo Ennichi Festival held on Aug. 22-25 is one of Kinomoto town's major events.
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Kinomoto in northern Nagahama is a former lodging town along the old Hokkoku Kaido Road going to the Hokuriku region. It was Kinomoto-juku's main street. It is also known as the place where Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo's wife Chiyo bought a fine horse for her husband. Other sights include Shakudoji temple and Kinomoto Station.
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Sugaura is a small settlement in the former town of Nishi-Azai along the northern shore of Lake Biwa. It is a quiet and scenic area with a nice lakeshore road and trail almost to the tip of the peninsula.
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Near JR Takatsuki Station are several notable sights. Doganji Temple (Kogenji) is the keeper of the town's symbol: A beautiful 11-face Kannon statue designated as a National Treasure. Nearby is the Kannon Folk History Museum (Kannon no Sato Rekishi Minzoku Shiryokan) with numerous Kannon statues on display. And the Deai-no-Mori local public library has an exhibition room for famed novelist Inoue Yasushi who visited Takatsuki many times. Further away is Amenomori Hoshu-an museum, dedicated to Takatsuki native and Confucian scholar Amenomori Hoshu (1668-1755) who was Japan's main diplomat to Korea in the mid-Edo Period. Also, Kita-Omi Resort is a natural hot spring facility complemented by a few restaurants and even the Egypt Pavilion from Aichi Expo 2005.
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The Azai area has historic ties to nearby Odani Castle and Anegawa River (battle). This unique museum complex (also called Oichi-no-Sato) consists of three buildings including two thatched-roof houses with interesting displays including silk production. Learn more about the Azai Clan, Odani Castle, and the Battle of Anegawa. Well worth a trip. 滋賀県長浜市大依町528
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Torahime's sights include Mt. Toragozen-yama with its low hills, ancient tumuli, shrines, and campgrounds. It also affords a fine view of the town. Beautiful in spring with numerous cherry trees. Near the foot is also the Jiyukan Hall for exhibitions, tourist info, and a place to relax and meet. Torahime also has noted temples Gomura Betsuin, Gyokusenji (Gansan Daishi), and the Wooden Seated Kannon Statue in the Kannon-do Hall.
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Hayasaki (Hayazaki) Naiko was an attached lake to Lake Biwa until it was filled in as reclaimed land in 1970. A number of attached lakes in Shiga were reclaimed to make rice paddies amid a shortage of food after the war. This has proven to be detrimental to Lake Biwa's ecology, and now Shiga wants to restore Hayasaki's reclaimed land back to an attached lake. In Nov. 2001, part of the land was flooded with water as an experiment, and the ensuing plant and wildlife were observed.
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Every Jan.-Mar., the Keiunkan, a former guesthouse originally built in 1887 to accommodate Emperor Meiji when he visited Nagahama, holds the Nagahama Bonbaiten exhibition of bonsai plum trees. The Keiunkan is near Nagahama Station's west exit, toward the south end.
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Lord Ishida Mitsunari was born in 1560 in Ishida village in Shiga Pref. The area can be reached by bus from Nagahama Station. His birthplace and former residence have monuments dedicated to this fallen but revered leader of the Western Forces which lost to Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Take a bus from Nagahama Station and get off at Ishida bus stop. 長浜市石田町
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Anegawa River was the site of a major battle with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu defeating Azai Nagamasa and the Asakura clan on Aug. 9 1570. The area was left with so many dead that the river ran red, and local place names such as Chibara (Blood Field) stuck.
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