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Nagahama Port is where you board the boat for Chikubushima. There are several round trips every day from either port. No reservations necessary. Within walking distance from Nagahama Station.Chikubushima can be reached from Nagahama Port or Imazu Port on the other side of the lake. There are several round trips every day from either port. Boat schedule: http://www.biwakokisen.co.jp/chikubushima.html.
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View of Mt. Ibuki as we leave Nagahama Port. Map for Nagahama Port
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Nagahama from Lake Biwa
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Nagahama Castle from Lake Biwa
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Mt. Ibuki from Lake Biwa
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Inside boatAlmost empty.
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Chikubushima in the distance
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Top deck of boat going from Nagahama to Chikubushima
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Heading for Chikubushima.
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According to legend, Mt. Ibuki and Mt. Azai-dake (Kanakuso-dake) in northern Shiga argued over who was the highest in Shiga. Mt. Ibuki got so upset by the argument that he drew a sword and sliced off Azai-dake's head...
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The sliced-off peak fell into Lake Biwa and became Chikubushima. Read the full folktale here.
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Chikubushima is Lake Biwa's most famous, historic, and sacred island. MAP
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Chikubushima used to be a lush green island. Now it is turning brown by the thousands of cormorants which nest on the island, beyond the reach of humans.
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Chikubushima is home to Hogonji Temple first built in 724 as ordered by the Emperor to worship the Goddess Benzaiten. It belongs to the Shingon Buddhist Sect (Buzan School) and it is the 30th temple in the 33-Temple Pilgrimage of Saigoku. 宝厳寺
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Chikubushima is also home to Tsukubusuma (Chikubushima) Shrine which is also a National Treasure. Until 1868 when Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines were required to be separate, the shrine was part of Hogonji temple.
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Whenever you see a torii gate, it indicates the grounds of Tsukubusuma Shrine. The shrine is actually integrated with Hogonji temple.
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Boat landing 宝厳寺宝厳寺
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Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Biwako Shuko no Uta) monument 琵琶湖就航の歌 歌碑In June 1917, a song called Biwako Shuko no Uta (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) was composed by college student Taro Oguchi during a boat rowing trip around Lake Biwa. He was a member of the rowing club at Dai-san High School (now Kyoto University). He composed it in Imazu, Shiga Prefecture during the second night of the trip.

The song is about the boys rowing around Lake Biwa while mentioning famous places like Otsu (the starting point), Omi-Maiko (Omatsu), Imazu, Chikubushima, Nagahama, and Chomeiji.

Another boat mate matched Oguchi's lyrics to the melody based on the old song called Water Lilies as modified by a young Chiaki Yoshida. It soon became a popular dormitory song.
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Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Biwako Shuko no Uta) monument 琵琶湖就航の歌 歌碑The song became a national hit in 1971 when singer Tokiko Kato recorded it. Numerous famous Japanese singers and groups have since released cover versions of the song. The town of Imazu even holds an annual song contest in June when choir groups from around Japan sing the song in a competition. The town even has a museum dedicated to the song.

One of the verses mentions Chikubushima. This monument commemorates the song and that verse. In 2006, I created an English version of this song called Lake Biwa Rowing Song and released a CD. Details here.
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Torii gate and bridge to Tsukubusuma Shrine, also called Chikubushima Shrine.
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Tsukubusuma Shrine's Haiden Hall
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The snake is a messenger of the Goddess Benzaiten.
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Inside the Haiden Hall, you can buy these little dishes. Buy two of them. You write your name on one and your wish on the other dish. Then throw it through the torii gate.
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Throw your two dishes at the torii gate. If your dish goes under the torii gate, your wish will come true. Geez, look at all those failed wishes (shattered dishes).This is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed. The scene where Ryosuke throws his small dish through the torii.
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View of Nagahama from Chikubushima
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure) on Chikubushima island, Nagahama, Shiga. It worships Benzaiten as well as the Dragon God and Azai-hime.都久夫須麻神社
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure)
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure)
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Funa-roka boat corridor connects Tsukubusuma Shrine and the Kannon-do Hall. Important Cultural Property. From the Momoyama Period. 船廊下
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Funa-roka boat corridor
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Funa-roka boat corridor
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple観音堂
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Kannondo Temple
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Chikubushima Port is always busy with boats coming from Nagahama, Hikone, and Imazu.
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Karamon Gate 唐門 (National Treasure). Entrance to the Kannondo Temple. Said to have come from Toyotomi Hideyoshi's original mausoleum in Kyoto. From the Momoyama Period. Chikubushima, Nagahama, Shiga.This could also have been the gate to the Gokuraku Bridge at Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle in the early 17th century.
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Kannondo Temple and Karamon gate of Hogonji temple on Chikubushima island, Nagahama, Shiga.
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Benzaiten-do Hall, the main worship hall of Hogonji temple. Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: Water, rivers, music, etc. 弁才天堂
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Three-Story Pagoda. Reconstructed in 2000. The original pagoda was destroyed by fire caused by lightning during the early Edo Period. It took six years to complete.
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Inside Benzai Tendo. Many famous samurai, such as Oda Nobunaga and the Azai Clan, worshipped at Chikubushima since they believed Benzaiten had the power to destroy their enemies.
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Inside Benzaiten-do Hall which houses one of Japan's three major statues of the Goddess Benzaiten.
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Inside Benzai Tendo
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Inside Benzai Tendo. The statue of Benzaiten in that corner was donated by the father of Lord Azai Nagamasa. The Nagamasa clan paid their respects to it regularly thereafter.
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Benzai Tendo
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Chikubushima has some steep steps.
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Boat to Imazu at Chikubushima.
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Chikubushima
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West view of Chikubushima
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East view of Chikubushima, whose trees are badly ravaged by kawau cormorants. Over 30,000 of these birds live on the island.
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North face of Chikubushima is also badly damaged and going bald. The cormorant bird droppings and nesting activities (breaking off branches) are killing off the trees.
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Keihan Maru boat during the early 1900s. This is a vintage postcard showing a steamer called Keihan Maru moored at Chikubushima. This boat landing is still being used.
   
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