JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

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On Aug. 8, 2007, I was allowed to join the Imazu Jr. High School Rowing Club as they rowed from Nagahama to Imazu. Photo: A briefing by the club's coach before departure in front of a minshuku lodge near Nagahama Castle.
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This "Biwako shuko" (Rowing around Lake Biwa) between Imazu and Nagahama was the club's annual summer tradition since 1995. Photo: Assembling a two-man kayak.
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On the day before, they were supposed to row from Imazu to Nagahama, but high waves forced cancellation. So they were bused to Nagahama where they stayed overnight. Photo: Carrying the kayak to the lake, passing by Nagahama Castle.
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Almost 50 members in the club, and almost all of them participated in this rowing trip. Some of them did this for the third time. Photo: Carrying life vests. All rowers are required to wear life vests.
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In the morning, two fishing boats pulled the rowing boats from Imazu to Nagahama Port where we met them here. 今津中学校ボート部の琵琶湖周航
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They used five boats to row, including these two ocean scull boats.
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Two fixed-seat boats were also used.
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And girls on the other fixed-seat boat. These boats have fixed seats which do not slide as in modern rowing boats. This boat is a replica of the fixed-seat boat used 90 years ago by Oguchi Taro and crew when he wrote the song, Biwako Shuko no Uta.
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I wanted to experience rowing this fixed-seat boat on Lake Biwa, and rowed with these jr. high girls from Nagahama Port. 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇
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"We're children of the lake, off to wander 'round..." (Mt. Ibuki in the distance)「われは湖の子...」
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"This journey fills my heart with intense happiness..."「さすらいの 旅にしあれば しみじみと」
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Yes, replenishing your fluids is important...
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We were far behind, so a support boat pulled us along. Two fishing boats provided support for the rowing trip.
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"Hira and Ibuki too, only but a dream"
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After about an hour, our first on-shore break, nears Sports no Mori in northern Nagahama.
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Our fixed-seat boat 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇
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Twin fixed-seat boats. One is named "Chiaki/Taro" and the other is called "Yodo," after Yodogawa River in Osaka. Lake Biwa's water feeds Yodogawa River.
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Rowers changed boats. Those without a rowing boat were transported on the fishing boats.
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Ocean scull
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Chikubushima and ocean scull
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Chikubushima and fixed-seat boat
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Three ocean sculls wander in front of Mt. Ibuki
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Chugging along on a fishing boat.
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Getting a free ride were these girls heading for Sugaura, a small town on the northern shore of Lake Biwa.
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Ocean scull rowers and a sickly Chikubushima going bald. The numerous cormorants are killing off the trees on the island.
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Heading toward Sugaura, Nishi-Azai in northern Lake Biwa.
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Approaching Sugaura
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Boys posing for a picture at Sugaura
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Lunch break at Sugaura, a scenic lakeside town. It is also where the scenic Oku Biwako Parkway road starts.
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Fixed-seat boat フィックス艇
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I love the design of this boat. 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇
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This boat's name is "Chiaki/Taro," named after the writer (Oguchi Taro) and composer (Yoshida Chiaki) of the song, Biwako SHuko no Uta.
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Top view. We were rowing on a work of art. More about Biwako Shuko no Uta here.
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Sugaura
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Departing Sugaura
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Departing Sugaura with Chikubushima in the background.
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Fixed-seat boats
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Fishing boat for human transport. It was a very hot day with no wind.
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Boys watch their classmates row.
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Rowing away from Sugaura
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"With our sights set nowhere, rolling with the waves..."「ゆくえ定めぬ、波枕」
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Off Makino Sunny Beach
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Fixed-seat boat with Mt. Ibuki and Chikubushima in the background. 千秋・太郎号のフィックス艇
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"Today is Imazu or, Nagahama huh..."「今日は今津か 長浜か」
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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All-girl crew pose for a picture. The rowing club has more girls than boys. はい、ポーズ!
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Sleek boat slicing through the water.
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They refused to be pulled by the fishing boat. They wanted to row all the way home to Imazu.
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Catch, row, catch, row...
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Fixed-seat boats and ocean sculls rendezvous toward home in Imazu.
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Target destination in sight
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Imazu boathouse
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Bringing the boat to dock.
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The boat is first carried onto a trolley.
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Hauling the fixed-seat boat to the boat house
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Water drain
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Fixed seat
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Oarlock on fixed-seat boat
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Cox seat and rudder (removed). Beautiful boat, and I'm darn happy to have rowed on this rare boat. Felt almost like Oguchi Taro.
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Inside the boat house
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"Tell us my friends your stories, with your fervent hearts."「語れ我がが友 暑き心」 Also see my YouTube video here.
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Imazu Junior High School students
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Imazu Junior High School students start the race.
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Imazu Junior High School female students rowing in the 3rd Imazu Regatta.
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Imazu Junior High School female students rowing in the 3rd Imazu Regatta. Also see my YouTube video here.
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Imazu Junior High School female students rowing in the 3rd Imazu Regatta.
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Imazu Junior High School female students rowing in the 3rd Imazu Regatta.
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Near the finish line.
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Finish line.
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Imazu Junior High School Rowing Club banner and members going to the regatta's awards ceremony.
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During Aug. 2008, the Imazu Junior High School Rowing Club also held a photo exhibition of their rowing trip across Lake Biwa held in Aug. 2007.
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The photo exhibition was held at the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan museum. Many of the photos were also contributed by Philbert Ono.
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The exhibition explained their experiences during the two-day rowing trip between Imazu and Nagahama and back. Photos of the rowing trip here.
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Also introduced the Imazu Regatta. Also see my YouTube video here.
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Another noted sight of Makino is this neat row of Metasequoia (dawn redwood) trees. MAP
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Metasequoia (dawn redwood) trees on the way to Makino Highland.
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There's a walking path along both sides of the trees.
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Road to Makino Highland. From here, it's an upward slope (if you're bicycling). Not too bad though. Otherwise, take a bus from Makino Station.
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Entrance to Makino Highland (Makino Kogen). Free admission. マキノ高原
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Map of Makino Highland. Quite a large area.
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Makino Highland. MAP
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Putting golf course during non-winter months.
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Makino Highland is quite large, includes a small skiiing ground and hiking trails to a waterfall. A great place to relax to get away.
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Onsen hot spring facility in Makino Highland.
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River in Makino Highland.
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Yae-zakura cherry blossoms in late April in Makino Highland in Takashima.
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Yae-zakura cherry blossoms are fluffy-looking.
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Near the Toya Mizunoeki is Toya High School whose Environment Club regularly take water samples from Lake Toya to test the lake's water quality. They go behind the Toya Mozunoeki and take water samples with plastic buckets.
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The students do various tests, each one does a specific task. 洞爺高等学校
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With buckets and water testing kits, they do their testing.1 comments
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One girl takes notes as the others give her their test results.
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Color charts are used to assess the water quality. This is for phosphoric acid.
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For nitrate.
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For Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD).
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After the water testing is done, they throw back the water into the lake.
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Local students from Abuta High School help beautify Toya Station.
     
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