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The 1st Shiga B-grade (B-kyu) Gourmet Battle was held in Otsu on July 30-31, 2011 on the Hama-Otsu lakefront. B-class (B-kyu in Japanese) gourmet is food that is cheap and aimed for the working class. It could also be good 'ol home cooking. *Note that this event is no longer held annually.
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B-grade food festivals have proven to be popular in various parts of Japan and Shiga finally started its own. With an estimated 120,000 attendees over the two-day period, Shiga's first B-class food fest was wildly popular as you can see by this crowd
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Long lines were the norm at most food booths lined along the lakefront.
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There was hardly any crowd control nor crowd direction. We just had to work our way through the lines when moving to another booth. Some lines extended all the way to the hotel behind the park.
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All the B-grade food served had some homegrown ingredient from Shiga. Whether it was Omi-gyu beef, red devil's tongue, Omi-mai rice, or Biwako fish. This is yaki-udon noodles.
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They employed a ticket system, so we had to buy a book of tickets. Each ticket was worth 100 yen and the food was priced from 100 to 500 yen.
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Cold noodles with Omi beef.
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I went on the second day in mid-afternoon and already many booths had sold out. This is a "Sold out" (kanbai 完売) sign.
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However, I did manage to buy some food at a few booths, and all were very good. Tasty like I've never tasted before. Unique and original dishes I would say. This is red devil's tongue with gravied bread.
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Fried fish and sweet beans over rice. Interesting combination.
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Omi Italian sausage. Hot dog like I've never tasted before. Very good.
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Fish from Okishima island. 200 yen per pack.
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Matcha shaved ice for dessert. I ended up buying two 1000-yen ticket books. Cheap food, but you want to try as much as possible and end up spending around 2,000 yen.
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It was a gourmet battle, so we could vote for our favorite B-class food by throwing away the wooden chopsticks in the these trash bins for each food booth. They weighed these bags of chopsticks and the heaviest won the battle.
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The B-grade gourmet battle was part of the Hama-Otsu Summer Festa which included a free jazz concert. I'm sure they will hold this B-class Gourmet food festival every year. Don't miss it, and go early.
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The Biwako Otsu Natsu Matsuri is an annual summer festival held on Aug. 1 at Hama-Otsu, near Otsu Port. びわ湖大津夏まつり Festival grounds
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The festival starts at 5 pm with food stalls and a variety of entertainment. The stage is in the middle and the ice sculptures in the foreground. Food stalls ring the grounds.
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Arch gate to festival grounds.
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Stage for entertainment and ceremonies. In 2006, the festival included a Balinese dancer, an Okinawan group, and ice sculpture contest.
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Okinawan group performs. Also see the video at YouTube. 伊礼哲&サンクルバーナー
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Okinawan singer
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Okinawan singer
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Okinawan eisa taiko drummer 琉友会
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Ice sculpture contest
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Overall winner with two salmon at Otsu Summer Festival. 優勝作品
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Local dignitaries on stage, including Kada Yukiko, newly-elected governor of Shiga. 滋賀県知事 嘉田由紀子
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The festival's highlight is a local bon dance called Goshu Ondo. Also see the video at YouTube.
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Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko joins in. 滋賀県知事 嘉田由紀子
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The dance area is very big. Many of the dance groups are from local companies.
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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Yukata with a logo of Lake Biwa.
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Festival grounds after dark.
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Another major summer event in Otsu is the Biwako Fireworks held in Aug. Near Hama-Otsu and Otsu Port, the prime viewing place, almost the entire place was blocked off with walls and fences to give priority to paid spectator seats (several thousand yen).
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No entry. From Hama-Otsu, it was very difficult to figure out where the free viewing area was. These photos were taken on Aug. 11, 2006.
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浜大津と大津港の近辺では非常に不快感でした。柵で閉鎖されて有料の観客席だけ。最低の花火会場。
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Pay money to watch the sky. I wonder if they actually filled up these seats. One of the most commercialized fireworks I've ever seen.
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A mass of people come to watch Lake Biwa Fireworks in summer. Free seating, finally. But located somewhat faraway from the prime site. びわ湖大花火大会
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Instead of going to Hama-Otsu Station, go to Shimanoseki Station (Keihan streetcar) to reach the free viewing area.
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Plastic mats are used to reserve spaces for groups. They would place these rocks, etc., to secure the mats. Some ill-mannered people would not bother to discard the sheets and rocks after the fireworks were over.
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People used to place these vinyl mats to save a fireworks viewing spot as early as 2 weeks before the fireworks date. However, from Aug. 2010, the city no longer allows this. You can save a spot only on the day of the fireworks.
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The word on her fan says it all. Otsu, Shiga.
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This bridge seemed to be a favorite spot for photographers. It later was filled with standing-room only crowds.
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I sat here.
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The crowd stretches very far down the shore.
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The tall building is Otsu Prince Hotel.
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Kitty
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Fireworks over water. Also see the video at YouTube.
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The final fireworks were half-dome explosions over the water. I missed it because I left early for the tiny train station on the Keihan Line.
     
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