Most viewed - SHIGA 滋賀県
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Lyrics of Kibo no Fune--Uminoko Shukoka (Ship of Hope--Lake Child Cruise Song). They created a song just for the boat in 1984. 希望の船--湖の子周航歌2210 viewsThis is the 1st verse:
朝もやはれて さわやかに
さざ波光る  びわのうみ
ぼくらわたしら 滋賀の子が
湖上たのしく めぐりつつ
郷土の知識 たかめあう
希望の船よ 希望の船よ
湖の子よ
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Live orchestra playing swing jazz. 有川新二&ザ・グレイ・ラスカルズオーケストラ「なつかしのスウイングジャズ」1129 views
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Koka Ninja House (Koka-ryu Ninjutsu Yashiki) is the former residence of Mochizuki Izumonokami, the leading Koga ninja family of the 53 Koka ninja families. 望月出雲守 MAP1118 viewsThe house is in its original location in the Koka area of Shiga Prefecture.
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The Mizugumo Water Spider Pond where you can walk on water. A few visitors, wearing ninja costumes, try it out.1092 views
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The Ninja House, built in 1703, is owned and maintained by a local medicine company having ninja roots. Many Koka ninja were makers of medicine as a front for their clandestine activities. This background also made them expert at making gunpowder.1090 viewsNot a National Historic Site, but it should be.
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Hachiman Commercial High School designed by William Merrell Vories in 1935. 八幡商業高等学校 MAP1050 views
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Great summer day for the beach at Omi-Maiko, one of the most popular and whitest beaches on Lake Biwa.1024 views
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Metal finger claws worn on the fingertips.1016 views
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As a theme park, the Koka-no-Sato Ninjutsu-mura or Koka Ninja Village offers a good tourist sampling of ninja in a hidden village of former ninja houses transplanted to this "village." Entrance to Koka Ninja Village, tucked away in a hidden, lus989 viewsEntrance to Koka Ninja Village, tucked away in a hidden, lush forest. Quite far from the nearest train station (Koka Station on the Kusatsu Line). You can call them from the train station to be picked up.
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Gift shop sells shuriken. Also see the Koka Ninja House. Koka Ninja Village Web site here.860 views
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There he goes, not exactly walking on water. Just dragging himself across with the rope. This is only for anime-like amusement. This is not how the ninja did it.858 views
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I love the design of this boat. 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇851 views
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Rumi844 views
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Otsu Matsuri is one of Shiga's major festivals featuring thirteen ornate floats displayed and paraded around central Otsu over two days before Sports Day, a national holiday around Oct. 10.827 views
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White sands at Omi-Maiko, Lake Biwa.813 views
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About the song and rowing route... この歌について(日本語解説)797 views(日本語はこの下にあります。Japanese follows the English below.)

Shiga Prefecture's most famous and beloved song is called Biwako Shuko no Uta (琵琶湖周航の歌) or "Lake Biwa Rowing Song." I have rendered this song into both pictures and English, according to my own imagination and interpretation.

First composed in 1917 by a bunch of college students from Kyoto, the song has been recorded by many famous Japanese singers and groups. In 1971, it became a major nationwide hit with singer Tokiko Kato's rendition. Today, the song remains a favorite among choir groups in Japan, and a choir singing contest is held for the song every June (since 1997) in Imazu, the birthplace of the song in the northwestern corner of Lake Biwa.

Shiga Prefecture also has stone monuments dedicated to each of the six verses. There's even a museum (Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan) in Imazu dedicated to the song. Okaya city on the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, the birthplace of the song's composer, Taro Oguchi (小口太郎) (1897-1924), also has a song monument and bronze statue of him.

The song is about a four-day, boat-rowing trip around Lake Biwa undertaken on June 27, 1917 by seven college students. They were in the rowing club at an elite college in Kyoto called Dai-san Koto Gakko (No. 3 High School 第三高等学校) which later merged with Kyoto University. As shown by the red line in the map above, they started at Otsu and rowed to Omatsu (now called Omi-Maiko), Imazu, Chikubushima island, Nagahama, Hikone, Chomeiji, and back to Otsu. They stopped overnight at Omatsu, Imazu, and Hikone.

The dotted blue line shows a longer route taken by earlier members of the rowing club beginning in 1893 when they did it for the first time. Twenty-one of them rowed around the lake in three boats, taking four nights and five days. The school's annual summer tradition of rowing around Lake Biwa thus began.

As the song circumnavigates the lake and mentions famous places in Shiga, the words also express symbolic meanings and sometimes unknown or mistaken meanings. The song is widely interpreted as describing the journey of life itself.

I have visited and photographed all the places mentioned in the song as well as all the song monuments in Otsu, Omi-Maiko, Imazu, Chikubushima, Hikone, Chomeiji, and Okaya (Nagano). I also created some digital images to match the scenes mentioned in the song.

More info about Lake Biwa Rowing Song here.

Photo: This map of lake Biwa is part of the Verse 5 Song Monument recently built in Oct. 2005 at Hikone Port. The English captions were inserted by me with my computer.
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The Ninja house (Ninja yashiki) is one of the main attractions of the Ninja Village. This was an actual ninja house belonging to the Fujibayashi ninja family. It was disassembled and transplanted here from Ohara Ichiba in Koka.781 views
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Beachgoers frolick in the lake as the rowing boats arrive.779 views
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Ninja armored suit for protection against swords.768 views
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Ladder going to the 2nd floor. There's also a trap door on the floor below the ladder where the ninja could hide. Notice the rope. The ninja hiding under the floor would tug the rope connected to the 2nd floor.760 views
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Amenomori is Takatsuki's showcase and flagship area. It's a quiet, rural part of town with waterwheels, roadside streams and flowers. Charming and picturesque.746 views
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Clear waters and beautiful Lake Biwa beach at Omi-Maiko745 views
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The first room you see in the house is the living room. You can sit and have free "ninja tea" while waiting for a guided tour of the house. Along with the geisha, the ninja is one of the most recognized but misunderstood things about Japan.731 views
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Shuriken target practice at the Shuriken Dojo in Koka Ninja Village, Shiga Prefecture. 手裏剣道場727 views
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Water spider: How the ninja did it. This drawing from the Koka Ninja House shows how it was done. The ninja sat on the board inside the wooden ring and waded through the water while partially submerged. His wooden clogs had small flippers.726 views
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Trap door on the floor opened.718 views
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Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Shiga Pref. 大奥夢道中715 views
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Old school library is now a K-ON gallery, event space, and cafe. Fans of the popular manga/anime called K-ON! gather here on weekends.698 views
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Whoa, almost fell into the water!696 views
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Grab the rope and step into the foot rings. Of course, ninja never wore a bright red costume. You can rent a ninja suit in various colors for 600 yen.675 views
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Azuchi Castle tower replica at House of Nobunaga. Very ornate and beautiful. both outside and inside.672 views
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Just when I finally became able to recognize the different faces of the cheerleaders (at first, they looked the same to me), the season ends, and they will be replaced next season.669 views
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Koka Ninja Museum also has showcases with various ninja costumes, documents, weapons, etc. The museum is kind of rundown though.649 views
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Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Shiga Pref.646 views
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Tsuchiyama-juku in Tsuchiyama-cho was the 49th of the 53 stations of the Tokaido Road, accessible by this "Aikuru" bus from Kibukawa Station (JR Kusatsu Line and Ohmi Railways). It takes 20-30 min, but the bus does not run so often.637 viewsTsuchiyama-juku in Tsuchiyama-cho was the forty-ninth of the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido Road, following Sakanoshita-juku in Mie. It is right after Suzuka Pass on the Suzuka mountains, one of the two most difficult sections of the Tokaido. Travelers thus were happy to see Tsuchiyama. Nicknamed "Ai no Tsuchiyama," the town is working hard to preserve its old buildings. The Tsuchiyama-juku Honjin where Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu and Emperor Meiji lodged is still intact and well maintained. The Tsuchiyama Tokaido Museum is also a major attraction. Special thanks to Uno Yoshinobu who was my guide in Tsuchiyama.
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Shuriken throwing knives.632 views
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Real ninja shuriken throwing star knives on display. Made of steel, they come in many different shapes.632 views
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Other activities.627 views
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Ninja's secret language. A codified system.623 views
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Closet with a trap door on the floor.616 views
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Inside the ninja house. A hearth with a escape hatch at the bottom.602 views
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Shinobi Shrine is what you first see. Worships all the nameless ninja who died. The ninja never tried to gain fame. They remained unknown. 志能備神社592 views
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Tools for making medicine (including gunpowder). Many Koka (Koga) ninja were medicine makers. It was a disguise and a means to gather information from people when they went around selling medicines. Koka ninja were always in contact with the local people.588 views
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Sleek racing row boats and traditional yakata picnic boats on upper right587 views
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Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Shiga Pref.587 views
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Ceiling of Ninja House. Directly below the thatched roof.585 views
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Ninja house attic showing the thatched roof.584 views1 comments
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Honolulu Advertiser newspaper from Hawaii featuring a photo of a ninja from Koka who performed at Ala Moana Shopping Center in 1990.581 views1 comments
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Map of Japan showing numerous ninja schools which existed during the feudal era. Iga-Ueno and Koga ninja were the most famous.578 views
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Ninja well with an escape tunnel which you can almost walk through.577 views
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A pair of floating rings with a platform in the middle.574 views
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Ninja looked at a cat's eyes to find out what time it was. If the iris was almost closed, it was noon. If dilated, it was late at night. Must've been troublesome to find and snatch a cat to find out what time it was.573 views1 comments
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Ninja sword, very short.571 views
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Soft rubber shuriken (toys). Special thanks to Takayuki Mochizuki (ninja descendant) for taking me to this Koka Ninja House.565 views
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Statue of Lord Todo Takatora (in Kora, Shiga Prefecture) who became the 11th lord of Tsu Castle (Mie Pref.) in 1608. Behind it is the Takatora Waterfall.563 views
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Hearth with a escape hatch at the bottom. A tour guide shows you the gimmicks of the house.562 views1 comments
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Inside the trap door is a hole and tunnel leading to a well in the garden outside. Hence the water.561 views
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Shuriken throwing knives.555 views
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Inside Koka Ninja Museum which opened in 1983. The dirt-floored room has various ninja ladders.549 views
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A flaming star543 views
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Maki-bishi spikes thrown on the ground to poke your feet. These are made from dried water chestnuts (aquatic plant found in marshes). One of the four spikes will point upward.538 views
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Cheerleader in the stands!537 views
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Shigaraki tanuki racoon dogs.535 views
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Revolving door (opened). The floor also has a trap door (see next photo) where you can go down and escape through a tunnel leading to a well in the garden outside.535 views
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Giant Buddha's hand. Used in a 1982 ninja movie. The hand has the same scale as the Giant Buddha's hand in Nara's Todaiji temple.534 views
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Display case showing ninja costumes. Real ninja mainly wore one of seven disguises instead of the stereotypical black costume. They could be dressed as a priest, merchant, jester, etc.529 views
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The 2nd floor, between the first floor and ceiling, has a very low height which can entrap an intruder going upstairs.524 views
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Path to Koka Ninjutsu-mura Village. Admission is 1,000 yen for adults. Cheaper for students. Open 10 am - 5 pm. Free shuttle bus available from JR Koka Station. Phone: 0748-88-5000521 views
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Ninja tools520 views
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Ninja dolls518 views
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Shinobi Shrine has a statue of Daikokuten, one of the seven gods of good fortune. He is worshipped for good marriage, food, and prosperity. Made during the early Edo Period, it's Japan's largest wooden statue of Daikokuten. 大黒天516 views1 comments
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Nohime, wife of Oda Nobunaga. 農姫513 views
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The rope is connected to a noise maker on the 2nd floor here. The intruder would then think that the ninja is on the 2nd floor and go up the ladder in pursuit. When the intruder is on the 2nd floor, the ninja below the trap door would remove the ladder.512 views
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This room has display cases showing various ninja weapons, tools, and costumes. The ceiling is also quite low, designed to impede the wielding of samurai swords.512 views
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Hikone Castle and Genkyu-en Garden in fall510 views
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The left sliding wooden door is very heavy, about 50 kg, making it difficult to open. This buys more time for the ninja to escape.507 views
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Certificate of Appreciation from UNICEF to the medicine company. Koka Ninja House Web site here. Phone: 0748-86-2179. Also see the Koka Ninja Village.504 views
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Trying my shuriken skills. You throw it with an overhand throw (like a baseball) and not like a frisbee. Also see my YouTube video here.503 views
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Trap door behind a scroll with the kanji "shinobi" (stealth).500 views
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Shiga LakeStars cheerleaders.498 views
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Entrance to another room on the first floor. Although the Koga ninja and Iga ninja (in Mie Prefecture) were the most famous, there were actually numerous ninja groups in many other parts of Japan as well. They were most active during wars.497 views
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A bit of rythmn gymnastics.497 views
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Going through the trap door.496 views1 comments
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Small gun concealed as a sword.494 views
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Dart-shaped shuriken. Shuriken were not only star-shaped. These were either thrown straight-on, or thrown while the point rotated 180 degrees turning toward the target. It was difficult to throw, and much practice was required..494 views
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Crane design in temari491 views
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Statue of Lord Ii Naomasa (井伊 直政 1561-1602 ) in front of JR Hikone Station in 2007.491 views
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Hooks for hoisting ropes on walls, etc. The Koka ninja reluctantly moved to Edo (Tokyo) around 1634 as requested by the shogun, and worked as castle guards, gathered intelligence on daimyo lords, and formed a gun battalion.481 views
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A long line outside Kyoto City Gymnasium on Oct. 3, 2009 before noon when gates opened for the Kyoto Hannaryz debut game in the bj-league.477 views
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Roof with ninja family crest.476 views
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The wooden railing on the right is slimmer than the left one. It means it is removable, allowing the ninja to escape from the 2nd floor.476 views
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One of Japan's renown and historical centers for pottery, Shigaraki's heart is the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. To reach Shigaraki by train, first get on the JR Kusatsu Line, get off at Kibukawa Station where you transfer to the Shigaraki Ko476 viewsOne of Japan's renown and historical centers for pottery, Shigaraki's heart is the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. To reach Shigaraki by train, first get on the JR Kusatsu Line, get off at Kibukawa Station where you transfer to the Shigaraki Kogen Railway Line (photo).
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That rope goes to the second floor (see next photo).475 views
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Ladder going up to the attic.474 views
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Ninja souvenirs474 views
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Designed by William Merrell Vories, the old Toyosato Elementary School building was built in 1937. This picture was taken in 2007, before renovations. This is the front gate.474 views
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Next to the Ninja house is the Koka Ninja Museum (Koka Ninjutsu Hakubutsukan). This was also a fomer house transplanted here. 甲賀忍術博物館471 views
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Shuriken Dojo Hall 手裏剣道場469 views
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Azuchi Castle construction467 views
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Maki-bishi made of steel. Used for escape when they encountered an enemy. Many of the ninja's weapons were designed to buy time for the ninja to escape.466 views
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もっと奇麗に歩け460 views
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The Ninja House also displays autographs by celebrities who visited the house. This is actor Harrison Ford who visited in Feb. 2000. He came unannounced with a taxi driver, interpreter, and his son.458 views
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The Sanno-sai Festival is held annually on April 12-15 at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. Not to be confused with the Sanno Matsuri held by Hie Shrine in Tokyo. It centers on April 14, the shrine's most important day called Reisai.457 views
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Ninja costumes for sale. 10,000 yen for adult costume, and 7,000 yen for children's size.450 views
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The upper walls have explanations about the Koka ninja and Mochizuki ninja family. "Koka" is the correct pronunciation, but the kanji can also be pronounced "Koga" which has become more common.449 views
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The Ninja house was built in 1842. There is a guide (dressed in ninja costume) inside to show you around.448 views1 comments
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Gunpowder case447 views
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Held only once every 5 years, the Ibuki-yama Taiko Drum Dance was held on Oct. 3, 2010 in Ueno, a small neighborhood at the foot of Mt. Ibuki. 447 views
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Ladies in waiting (hey there, look up!)446 views下を向いたらあかん。
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Swinging down a rope.446 views
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Omi-Maiko Station on JR Kosei Line. It makes it easy for people in Kyoto to visit Omi-Maiko. MAP444 viewsSign says "Welcome to Omi-Maiko." Omi-Maiko was in the former town of Shiga-cho that merged into Otsu.
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Demonstration of matchlock guns, Azuchi Nobunaga Festival.444 viewsEven these people had to obtain police permission to bear and fire these feudal-era guns.
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Stairs to go back down to the 1st floor. There's a rotating door. Ninja worked behind the scenes and were very secretive. They hardly told others about their activites nor left written records. Sometimes they worked as spies or mole.442 views
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Monument for Sarutobi Sasuke, a famous Koga ninja who was born in Koka. However, he was only fictional character. Ninjas never tried to become famous. 猿飛佐助の碑440 views
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Castle wall to climb on.438 views
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Medicine packages from Koka ninja-related medicine companies. Even today, Koka has numerous medicine manufacturers.437 views
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Path down to Koka Ninja Village. Lots of greenery. MAP423 views
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Wall to climb on422 views
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Medicine ad sign reading Ninjutsu-gan. For belly aches. Although the ninja's medicine-making remains today, the art of ninjutsu is ironically no longer practiced in Koka. It is not a martial art like karate and judo.420 views
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Risa リサ419 views
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Lunch at Yogoko-so lodge: Eel (unagi) and udon noodles. I think it was 700 yen or so.418 views
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Ceiling of Ninja House.418 views
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Shuriken Dojo has a few stalls. For a few hundred yen, you can throw real shuriken at wooden targets.416 views
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The array of ninja weapons and tools was very impressive. This Ninja House strives to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions of the ninja. A visit is highly recommended.416 views
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On Oct. 25-26, 2008, the first Yuru-Kyara (Mascot Character) Matsuri was held on Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road in Hikone. This sign at Hikone Station points the way. Map416 views
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The famed Bansenshukai Ninja Bible detailing ninja tools and techniques. This is a replica.415 views
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Harie is a unique rural neighborhood where homes draw clean water from an ever-flowing spring directly from the ground into private wells called kabata. A local NPO conducts tours of the area and homes with kabata.415 viewsHarie is in Takashima, Shiga, near JR Shin-Asahi Station on the Kosei Line, the gateway to Shin-Asahi and Harie. 新旭駅 MAP
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Blow tube and blow darts.414 views
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Kaizu-Osaki is a peninsula easily accessible from Makino or Nishi-Azai Station. You can rent a bicycle at Makino Station on the Kosei Line or at Nagahara Station. Makino Station is closer so I rented a bicycle there at the tourist info office.414 views
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The veranda is another escape route after opening trick windows from the inside. Ninja avoided direct combat and preferred to defend themselves and escape from enemies. Assassination was only a minor part of their activities.411 views
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Main entrance to Miidera (Onjoji) temple. It is the headquarters temple of the Tendai Jimon Buddhist Sect (founded by Priest Enchin) and former rival of Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei, also in Shiga. MAP411 views
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Contrary to popular belief, ninja cannot walk on water. "Mizugumo" means water spider. To move across water, they used a wooden floating ring shown here, and sat in the middle.410 views
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The Koka Ninja House also has a Shuriken Dojo. Pay 200 yen for five shuriken throwing stars (300 yen for 10) and try hitting the bull's eye.409 views
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Shirahige Shrine torii, Takashima. One of Lake Biwa's best-known landmarks. It faces the shrine on land. Rent a bicycle or go by taxi from Omi-Takashima Station (Kosei Line).409 views
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They wore wooden geta clogs with flippers which helped them propel themselves underwater. The wooden floating ring is collapsible and quite light. Almost like balsa.407 views
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Otsu Exhibition, Nov. 21 - Dec. 4, 2005 at Shiga Kaikan, Otsu, Shiga. Right across from the Shiga Prefectural Office. 滋賀会館406 viewsFor this exhibition, I created my own photographic rendition of the places and scenes mentioned in the song and also photographed all the stone monuments dedicated to the song. I used Photoshop to composite images and to alter the colors into a dreamy condition as the song suggests. I also translated the lyrics into English.

The exhibition was held at Shiga Kaikan, right across from the Shiga Prefectural Office. Shiga Kaikan has two spaces for exhibitions, and I used the smaller space called Bunka Salon Gallery.

Map: http://www.shiga-bunshin.or.jp/shigakaikan/map.html
Address: Kyomachi 3-4-22, Otsu, Shiga Pref.
Phone: 077-525-9995
〒520-0044 大津市京町三丁目 4-22
Web site: http://www.shiga-bunshin.or.jp/shigakaikan/
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The Shiga Lakestars played against Takamatsu Five Arrows again on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2009 at Hikone Shimin Taiiku Center gym, a 20-min. walk from Hikone Station. These photos were taken on Oct. 31, 2009.406 views
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Shigaraki pottery lessons404 views
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Real ninja obviously did not wear a pink costume, but in the manga/anime world, pink looks cute.402 views
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This entire ceiling was designed to fall down on any assailant in this room.402 views
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Small revolving door connected to a closet. The Koka ninja's main activity was gathering information. As they traveled and sold medicines, they always talked to people and their customers. They tried to find out how many guns the enemy had, etc.401 views
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Miss Shakunage (Rhododendron)400 views
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Headquarters of the Tendai Buddhist sect, Enryakuji is a large complex of temples, halls, buildings, and monuments on Mt. Hiei in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. It boasts buildings which are National Treasures. MAP399 views
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Bullets with various gauges.398 views
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Shiga LakeStars poster for home games at Shiga Prefectural Gym in Otsu. 397 views
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Way to Niu Shrine, near Hashimoto bus stop, about 15 min. by bus from Yogo Station. The Chawan Matsuri festival is held by Niu Shrine. The last time was in May 2003. The festival features three floats, a procession, and sacred dances and music.393 views
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Due to financial reasons, the Suijo Hachiman Shrine Taiko Drum Dance is held only once every 5 years. I went to see it on Sept. 23, 2009. MAP392 views
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Oda Nobunaga 織田信長391 views
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A sketch shows how they were "water spiders." They were largely submerged in the water, with the wooden ring also submerged, but buoyant enough for them to float across while kicking through the water with the flipper clogs.389 views
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The Koka Ninja House is located 2 km from JR Konan Station on the JR Kusatsu Line. There are no buses going to the Ninja House. The house is open every day 9 am - 5 pm. Closed Dec. 27-Jan. 1. Admission is 600 yen for adults. 望月出雲守388 views
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Outdoor stage, where they hold events like the Miss Kunoichi Contest.387 views
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In 1604 at age 30, the Tokugawa government called him to Edo to supervise the building of Zojoji temple (where many Tokugawa shoguns are buried). He also supervised the building of the famous Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. This same statue is at Toshogu Shrine.384 views
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Lotus at Karasuma Peninsula in Kusatsu.381 views
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Little ninja at target practice.381 views
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Straw sandals with metal claws for traction.379 views
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Swinging chain with weights on the ends. Wrap it around the opponent's neck.376 views
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One room's upper walls display a chronological history of the Koga ninja.374 views
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Straw ninja hat with a deep brim to hide their face. Dressing like a priest, merchant, etc., would arouse the least suspicion while they traveled.374 views
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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368 views
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Manga cells. Ninja manga characters are famous. However, real ninja never became famous. Being famous in name or face would greatly decrease the value of that ninja.367 views
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At the same time as Niagara Falls, they lit the two giant torches. It was hard to watch both the Niagara Falls and giant torches at the same time. But Niagara soon petered out.367 views
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View of Mt. Mikami from Omi-Fuji Karyoku Koen Park in spring.366 views
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Three out of five of my shuriken at least stuck on the board. But all missed the target which is quite low. Probably geared for kids.366 views
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Gift shop selling medicines, tea, and ninja goods.366 views
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The "Rio Grande" cruise boat awaits at Imazu Port on a miraculously sunny day during the rainy season. 梅雨でありながら、奇跡的にこんないい天気になった。今津港364 views
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It makes you wonder how they fit the temari threaded ball into the round glass bottle.363 views
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For 500 yen, you can rent a ninja costume of various colors.361 views
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Held during the weekend in mid-March, the Sagicho Matsuri is a dramatic parade and clashing of 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats. On the first day at 1 pm, 14 Sagicho Festival floats gather at Himure Hachimangu Shrine near Hachiman-bori Canal.357 views
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Blow darts with poison tips maybe.356 views
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Ninja phone straps355 views
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Entrance to Kibogaoka Park during the Sports Recreation Shiga 2008 festival during Oct. 18-21, 2008. It's an annual event held in a different prefecture. People from all 47 prefectures and South Korea participate in tournaments for 18 sports.354 views
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The Omizo Matsuri is the biggest festival (Reisai) of Hiyoshi Jinja Shrine in Takashima (not to be confused with Hiyoshi Taisha in Otsu which is related) held annually on May 3-4.349 views
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The Saio princess wears a juni-hitoe (12-layer) robe reserved only for Imperial family members. For this festival, the Saio princess is portrayed by 20-year-old Chiaki Koyama (神山千明) from Shigaraki, Koka. 348 views
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Asahi Honen Taiko Odori dancers and Mt. Ibuki in Maibara, Shiga.347 views
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Bin-temari monument. "Bin" means bottle, and "temari" is a threaded ball. The bin-temari is a round glass ball with a threaded ball inside.346 views
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San-mon Gate. Built in 1802. 三門345 views
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Green pine and white sand of Omi-Maiko, Lake Biwa.344 views
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Kyoto University's winning rowing crew344 views
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Healthy "Ninja tea." Free samples in the living room.344 views
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Oda Nobunaga actually started living in Azuchi Castle's main tower or donjon. Normally, the castle lord resided in a separate palace.343 views
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Medicine (gunpowder?) case.343 views
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View from atop Mt. Azuchi.341 views
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Bin-temari in Echigawa, Shiga. Echigawa's bin-temari history goes back to around 1840 when its oldest bin-temari was made. However, this traditional art died out with the death of Aoki Hiro in 1973, Echigawa's last bin-temari maker.337 views
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Medicines made by the company which owns the house.337 views
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About 40 rowers from overseas rowed around Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan on June 5-11, 2011 for the annual FISA World Rowing Tour held for the first time in Asia. Schedule and map for June 5, the first day of rowing. They started from Otsu. 337 views
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Near Kora Town Hall is this statue of Kora Bungo-no-Kami Munehiro (1574-1646). Born here, he started a famous lineage of shrine/temple carpenters. 甲良豊後守宗廣 MAP333 viewsHe supervised the construction of many famous buildings.
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Azuchi Castle Museum (Azuchi Jokaku Shiryokan)329 views
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329 views
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Toyosato Elementary School after renovations in 2009. Nice new coat of paint makes the old school look almost brand new. MAP329 views
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Azuchi Castle replica327 views
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Nene, Toyotomi Hideyoshi's wife327 views
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Statue of Ishida Mitsunari327 views
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Go left or right...325 viewsDisobey the sign and go right to visit the main beach.
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Kongorinji's Main temple roof drowning in fall leaves325 views
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Outside the ninja house. This ninja house is very impressive. It does have an air of authenticity, although there are, unavoidably, a few touristy elements. This house should be designated as a Important Cultural Property or an National Historic Site.325 views
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Some balls have tassels.324 views
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Bin-temari come in different sizes and an infinite number of threaded-ball designs. It also makes a great wedding gift since the round shape symbolizes harmony of the heart and family. You can also clearly see inside. 中がよく(仲良く)見える323 views
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Saio princess in juni-hitoe kimono.321 views
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321 views
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Ishiyama-dera temple is a 10-min. walk from Ishiyama-dera Station on the Keihan Ishisaka Line. You can transfer to the Keihan Line at JR Ishiyama Station on the Tokaido Line.321 views
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Parking lot entrance320 views
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Hachiman-yama Castle wall319 views
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Burning old New Year's decorations, Hokoku Jinja, Nagahama, Shiga Pref.319 views
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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318 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine's Setsubun bean throwing on Feb. 3 (at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm) is perhaps Shiga's most prominent with three impressive demons (called oni) on stage acting as the evil oni to be chased away with soybeans.317 viewsFeb. 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring according to the lunar calendar. So they throw beans at ogre to eliminate the evil of the previous year and bring in good fortune. Taga Taisha had impressive ogre (called oni in Japanese) dancers from Shimane Prefecture to act as the demons to chase away during the festival.
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Operated by Shiga Prefecture's Board of Education, the Uminoko "Biwako Floating School" is an educational boat going on overnight voyages year-round on Lake Biwa, taking Shiga's 5th graders.317 viewsThis first and original Uminoko ship was in operation from Aug. 2, 1983 to spring 2018 when it was retired. It was replaced by a new Uminoko ship (same name) in May 2018. The following photos are of the old Uminoko ship inside and outside when it was open to the public in Aug. 2010.
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This Azuchi Castle tower replica was displayed in the Japan Pavilion at the Seville Expo '92 in Spain before it was moved here.316 views
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Lotus pond at Karasuma Peninsula.314 views
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Map of central Otsu and lakefront. It is quite easy to walk or bicycle along the lake shore in central Otsu, starting from Hama-Otsu.314 views
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The 2nd Yuru-kyara festival was held in Oct. 23-25, 2009. The festival was expanded by a day by including an indoor stage show featuring enka singer Hashi Yukio singing "Yuru-kyara Ondo."314 viewsOn Oct. 23, 2009 (Fri.), the Yuru-kyara Daishugo event was held at the Hikone Bunka Plaza's Grand Hall. ひこね市文化プラザ グランドホール
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Ducks on ice309 views
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The Azuchi Nobunaga Festival's main venue was here, next to Azuchi Castle (hill on right). MAP308 views
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Held annually on May 4 in Takashima, Shichikawa Matsuri is Oarahiko Shrine's biggest festival (Reisai). It starts with a procession in the shrine's neighborhood. The shrine is near Shin-Asahi Station (JR Kosei Line).307 views
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Otsu Festival poster306 views
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The focal point of the Kurokabe Square shopping area is this "black wall" Kurokabe Glass Shop in a former bank building. MAP305 views
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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.304 views
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Entrance to Ukimido Floating Temple, which is actually Mangetsu-ji temple. Admission is 300 yen. Hours: 8 am - 5 pm. Buses run from Katata Station. Parking available. 満月寺 浮御堂 MAP304 views
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The ball is actually hollow like a balloon. It is inserted into the bottle in a deflated state, then expanded into a ball. The museum also has a fascinating video showing how temari is made.303 views
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Sculpture of Lady Murasaki Shikibu.302 views
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Close-up of rowers at Asahi Regatta301 views
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Omi-Maiko300 views
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This is an autograph by Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko who visited the Ninja House on April 24, 2009. In red reads "Mottainai," her motto meaning "Wasteful," in reference to spending of tax dollars.300 views
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Jamie won the speech contest. Her award certificate from Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko. 第3回BNN外国人による日本語スピーチ大会 最優秀賞を受賞!299 views
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Lake Yogo is a small scenic lake next to northern Lake Biwa.298 views
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Wooden ad sign for aspirin.297 views
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On Oct. 10, 2009 (Sat.) at Yasu Sogo Taiikukan Gymnasium, the Shiga Lakestars held their first home game in Shiga Prefecture for the 2009-2010 season. They already played the season opener in an away game in Kyoto the preceding weekend.297 views
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The unique hexagonal base of the upper section of the Azuchi Castle donjon.296 views
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Shin-Asahi manhole cover with a windmill design. Takashima, Shiga Pref.295 views
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Hiko-nyan in Hawaii!!295 views
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Our fixed-seat boat 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇294 views
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Zaiji Hachiman Shrine also has wisteria which bloom in early May. Planted by Todo Kagemori, the founder of the Todo clan in the 14th century.294 views
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Oda Nobunaga291 viewsIn the Azuchi Castle Museum (Azuchi Jokaku Shiryokan)

安土城郭資料館
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June 3, 2006 Jamie and Megan Thompson sing "Lake Biwa Rowing Song" at Imazu Port, Shiga Pref.291 views
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Ubaga Mochi, famous Kusatsu confection.290 views
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Yes, it's Doraemon as fireworks. This lasted briefly before it snuffed out. I heard that they have this every year for this Yuge Fire Festival.290 views
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Ishida Mitsunari 石田三成289 views
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Inside Hondo temple hall, Eigenji287 views
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Oda Nobunaga burned Saimyoji right after scorching Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei. Fortunately, the main hall and the pagoda survived. 3-story pagoda, a National Treasure282 views
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Old New Year's decorations to be burned282 views
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Living room of former home of Omi merchant Tonomura Shigeru.282 views
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Art work on a vending machine.281 views
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Shiga Prefectural Cultural and Industrial Exchange Hall (Shiga Kenritsu Bunka Sangyo Koryu Kaikan) near Maibara Station. Venue of the bj-league pro basketball game between the Shiga LakeStars and Toyama Grouses on held on March 22, 2009.281 views
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Farewell, and thank you everyone for visiting Japan and Shiga Prefecture. We are all happy you had a great time here. Hope you visit again because we have a lot more than just Lake Biwa, Enryakuji, and Hikone Castle. And spread the word about Shiga.281 views
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Karuta Festival. The narrator (standing) recites one of the poems and the contestants must search for and claim the card written with the poem.280 views
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Karasaki Pine Tree (One of the Eight Views of Omi or Omi Hakkei) as seen from Lake Biwa. 唐崎の松(近江八景)280 views
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