Image search results - "shuko"
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Three-day (Aug. 9-11, 2006) rowing route around the southern half of the lake by the Kyoto Univ. rowing club.1st day: Home base in Seta River to Manohama (crew change), then to Omi-Maiko.
2nd day: Omi-Maiko to Manohama, then to Chomeiji.
3rd day: Chomeiji to Manohama where crew changes. Then to home base in Seta River.
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Three boats are used for the trip, sighted here off shore near JR Hira Station on the Kosei Line. 湖西線比良駅の沖
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Arriving Omi-Maiko on Day 1. Rowing around the lake has been an annual tradition.
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The white boat. A song was even composed for this trip, called Biwako Shuko no Uta.
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They use four-man boats (called "knuckle four" in Japanese) with sliding seats. It is stable and safe, ideal for beginners.
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To mark the song's 100th anniversary, a new song monument was unveiled at Kyoto University (Yoshida-South Campus) on Nov. 25, 2017.
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Each boat has four rowers and cox who steers the rudder.
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Front side of the monument has the Japanese lyrics and explanation of the song. Monument is made of stainless steel with a brushed-metal finish.
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The green boat. 近江舞子上陸
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Other side of the monument is in English. See this video of the unveiling.
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The boats are wooden, and a few decades old.
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Monument's English side has a bilingual Lake Biwa map and Lake Biwa Rowing Song English lyrics.Directions: From JR Kyoto Station's Karasuma side (north side with Kyoto Tower), go to bus stop D2 and catch the No. 206 bus bound for "Gion Via Kiyomizu-dera Temple/Kitaoji Station" (三十三間堂・清水寺・祇園・百万遍). The bus leaves every 15 min. or so (bus schedule here), but it can be very crowded. The ride takes abut 30 min. Get off at "Kyodai Seimon-mae" (京大正門前). Cross the big road (Higashi-Oji-dori) and walk along Higashi-Ichijo street. The main Yoshida Campus will be on the left while the Yoshida-Minami Campus will be on the right. Enter the Yoshida-Minami Campus and walk to the central courtyard area.

(From Kyoto Station, there is also an express bus (京大快速) to Kyoto University Hospital from bus stop D3, but it runs only at certain times on weekdays, mainly in the morning and mid-afternoon (bus schedule here).
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Notice the rudder. Controlled by a pair of strings held by the cox.
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Beachgoers frolick in the lake as the rowing boats arrive.
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About the song and rowing route... この歌について(日本語解説)(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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Verse 1 Song Monument, Otsu (Mihogasaki). In 1973, this was the first monument built for the song. The song's first and most famous line, "Ware wa Umi no Ko" is written. 一番の歌碑。大津市三保ケ崎。This monument is near the boat house in Mihogasaki, a stone's throw from Hama-Otsu.

われは湖の子 さすらいの
旅にしあれば しみじみと
のぼる狭霧や さざなみの
志賀の都よ いざさらば

Ware wa Umi no Ko, sasurai no
tabi ni shiareba, shimijimi to
Noboru sagiri ya, sazanami no
Shiga no Miyako yo, iza saraba
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On June 16, 2007, Imazu marked the 90th anniversary of the song by organizing a boat cruise on Lake Biwa and other events. Omi-Imazu Station had a sign directing guests to Imazu Port. 90周年の記念「琵琶湖周航クルーズ」の近江今津駅内
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The orange boat. On the left at the ear is the cox, the middle are four rowers, and at the front of the boat is one extra person who can rest and enjoy the ride.
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Front of Yoshida Chiaki's home in Niigata (formerly Niitsu) which I visited in Nov. 2007. Yoshida Chiaki composed a song called "Hitsuji-gusa" (Water Lilies) whose melody was used for the song "Biwako Shuko no Uta" (Lake Biwa Rowi
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Imazu Port. A large crowd of people waiting to board the chartered boat for a 3-hour cruise on Lake Biwa to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the song, Biwako Shuko no Uta.
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Most people were oblivious to the boats.
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Front of Yoshida Chiaki's home. Chiaki's room was on the left end of the 2nd floor as seen here. More about Yoshida Chiaki here.
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Song monument which reads "Ware wa Umi no Ko," the song's first line meaning "We're children of the lake."
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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
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Front gate of Yoshida Chiaki's home
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Reception desk for passengers. A little over 100 people joined the cruise. クルーズの受付
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The orange boat decided to go ashore where it was less crowded.
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Inner garden. I met Yoshida Yuki (吉田ゆき), the niece of Yoshida Chiaki who showed me the house and a few materials. Flowers planted by Chiaki still grow in the garden.
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"Umi no Ko" (Child of the Lake) Lake Biwa training boatThe bow of Shiga Prefecture's "floating school." The name of this boat was obviously taken from the song. The boat is owned by Shiga Prefecture and used to educate elementary school kids about the lake. Since 1983, this ship has been serving as a floating school for kids where they stay overnight and spend two days conducting experiments to learn more about the lake. Picture was taken at Hikone Port.
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Back of Verse 1 Song Monument, Otsu (Mihogasaki)Directions: From JR Otsu Station, take a bus to Mihogasaki. It's about 10 min. Or you can easily walk it from Hama-Otsu Station. Just walk on the main road toward the race boat arena. There will be a small marina on the right. Right after passing the marina, turn right into the small road. There will be a small park on the right. The monument is there. There are two stone monuments. It might be roped off and you're not supposed to enter the park. While you're there, walk around the marina and see the boathouse with the cherry blossom logo with three stripes. That's the logo of the school and the place where the boys left for the rowing trip in 1917. Otsu Station also has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map.
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Boarding time at Imazu Port. In the forefront is a song monument for Biwako Shuko no Uta.
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Two boats will lie here overnight.
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Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor.
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Megan and Jamie Thompson about to board the boat. トンプソン姉妹
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Dark Blue Blades, symbol of the Kyoto Univ. rowing club.
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Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor. This is where he spent his final days while stricken with tuberculosis.
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"Umi no Ko" (Child of the Lake) Lake Biwa training boat for kidsThe name of this boat was obviously taken from the song. The boat is owned by Shiga Prefecture and used to educate elementary school kids about the lake. Since 1983, this ship has been serving as a floating school for kids where they stay overnight and spend two days conducting experiments to learn more about the lake. Picture was taken at Hikone Port.
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Near the Verse 1 Song Monument is another stone monument engraved with the words of the entire song.
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Boat name "Rio Grande" operated by Biwako Kisen. Named after Shiga's sister state in Brazil. There is also the "Michigan" paddlewheel boat named after Shiga's sister state in the USA.
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Oars and boats
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View from Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor. Sometimes they receive local school children for tours of the house.
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Inside the front of the Rio Grande boat. 琵琶湖周航クルージング
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Day 3: Arrival at Manohama beach, near the west end of Biwako Ohashi Bridge. 真野浜上陸
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Stairs from Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor.
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Small park where the Verse 1 monument is located.This monument is near the boat house in Mihogasaki, a stone's throw from Hama-Otsu. It was built in 1973 as the first monument for the song.

This little park is actually off-limits and you're not supposed to enter it, for some reason. On the left side of the picture is another stone monument hidden by brush. It is engraved with the entire song. In the background, you can see the roof of the boathouse.
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Open deck at the rear. The boat departed at about 11:30 am.
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Manohama is where they change boat crews. Half of the people ride on bicycles on shore, while the other half row on 3 boats.
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Original copy of the magazine "Ongaku-kai" (The Musical Japan) where Yoshida Chiaki's song "Hitsuji-gusa" was first published and made popular. Issued in Aug. 1915. 音楽界
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We passed by various scenic spots such as Shirahige Shrine, noted for the torii gate in the lake.
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Landed in fishing lines.
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Table of Contents of magazine "Ongaku-kai" (The Musical Japan) 音楽界. Many music-related articles.
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Shirahige Shrine 白髭神社
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Departing Manohama at about 11:30 am. 真野浜出発
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On the first page is Yoshida Chiaki's song "Hitsuji-gusa" (Water Lilies) which was acclaimed enough to be published here.
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Shirahige Shrine torii as seen from the cruise boat.
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Small motorboat which accompanies the three rowing boats. I was aboard this motorboat and took pictures.
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On the first page is Yoshida Chiaki's song "Hitsuji-gusa" (Water Lilies). Although the melody is different, the lyrics are a direct translation of a childen's song called Water Lilies written by E.R.B. in the UK.
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Omi-Maiko with green pines on white sands. 近江舞子の「松は緑に 砂白き」
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Biwako Ohashi Bridge 琵琶湖大橋
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Small book titled "A Garland of Flower-Poems" published in Japan. This was owned by Yoshida Chiaki and it includes the UK song "Water Lilies."
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Omi-Maiko appears in the song.
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Ferris wheel from the Biwako Tower amusement park, now defunct. 琵琶湖タワー(廃墟)
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Page where "Water Lilies" is printed in the book. It is very likely that Chiaki found the song in this book, and decided to make his Japanese version. His signature is on the back of the book.
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Waving the signal flag at a checkpoint to staff on shore.
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Rolling with the waves
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Okino-shiraishi Rocks, a favorite resting place for birds which turned the rocks white from bird droppings. Four rocks stand 80 meters deep in the lake. Out of the water, the tallest stands 14 meters high. 沖の白石
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South of Biwako Ohashi Bridge.
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So what does "Coral shrine" mean in the song? (There's no coral in the lake.) "I think it just refers to a beautiful place..." 「珊瑚の宮」はどういう意味?
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Rowing past the Ukimido Floating Temple in Katata. 堅田 浮御堂(近江八景)
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We landed on Chikubushima for about an hour. Jamie and Megan also sang in English in front of the Verse 4 song monument.
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Ukimido Floating Temple, one of the Eight Views of Omi (Omi Hakkei). 堅田 浮御堂(近江八景)
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Jamie and Megan Thompson sing in English in front of the Verse 4 song monument, Chikubushima. Next time we need to have an amplifier.
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Mt. Hiei 比叡山
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Jamie and Megan Thompson sing in English in front of the Verse 4 song monument, Chikubushima. They sang up to Verse 4. ジェイミーとメゲン・トンプソン姉妹が歌う
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Omi-Fuji (Mt. Mikami) and Karasuma Peninsula. 近江富士(三上山)と烏丸半島
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Verse 2 Song Monument, Omi-Maiko (Omatsu). On the lake shore in Omi-Maiko (Omatsu) behind Hotel Biwa Lake Otsuka. Built in March 1989. 二番の歌碑。近江舞子(ホテル琵琶レイクオーツカの前)Pine trees are very green, on sands very white.
Omatsugasato is, a young maiden's home.
Bush of red camellia, hides her teary face.
She's weeping o'er a lost love, much too short to last.

Matsu wa midori ni, suna shiroki
Omatsugasato no, otomego wa
Akai tsubaki no, morikage ni
Hakanai koi ni, naku toka ya

松は緑に 砂白き
雄松が里の 乙女子は
赤い椿の 森蔭に
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YouTube video of the song Hitsuji-gusa (Water Lilies) by a choir called Koai Gassho no Kai (小合合唱の会) performing at a memorial gathering on the anniversary of Chiaki’s death in Feb. 2013 at Chiaki’s birth home.Video uploaded by Ichii Yasuzo in Niigata.
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Mihogasaki harbor, Otsu. The arrow points to the boat house where Oguchi Taro and crew departed for their rowing trips.Mihogasaki is accessible by bus from Otsu Station. Or just walk west from Hama-Otsu. This is also where water from the lake is drawn into the Biwako Canal's first canal which feeds water to Kyoto.
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Old photo of Verse 2 Song Monument in Omi-Maiko. The tree was cut down and lyrics later painted white.
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The man holds the 90th Anniversary tour sign as a guide for the tour guests.
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She is the cox sitting at the rear and controlling the rudder with a pair of strings. コックス
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Lots of putty line the seams.
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Getting back on the boat. Little over a hundred people came on this cruise. If people knew it was gonna be such a beautiful day during this rainy season, more would have certainly come.
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Verse 2 monument is on the lake shore, in front of Hotel Biwa Lake Otsuka, near what appears to be a boat pier. Short walk from Omi-Maiko Station.Directions: Near Omi-Maiko Station on the JR Kosei Line. After exiting the station, walk left toward Kitahama. Then get to the lake shore and walk along the lakeshore road until you see the monument under a large tree right on the shore. It is in front of Hotel Biwa Lake Otsuka.
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Mihogasaki harbor, Otsu. The arrow points to the boat house.
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Sachiko Tsuji, the MC, interviews the sisters before they sang on the boat. 自動販売機前でインタービュー。船内の客は姉妹の顔や姿がほとんど見えへん。
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Torii on shore (Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine) near Sakamoto. 鳥居
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Jamie and Megan Thompson sing in English while cruising on Lake Biwa. 船の真ん中で歌って自動販売機がバックになって最悪。客に背中を向くばかりで申し訳ない。船の一番前に歌いたいと頼んだけど...
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Otsu Prince Hotel in the distance.
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Across the road from the Verse 2 song monument is this small music box. Press the button and you can hear the song play (sung by Kato Tokiko).
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Boat house where Taro Oguchi and crew departed on their rowing trip. No longer used by the university's boat club. Mihogasaki, Otsu
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After they sang, there was a mad rush to buy the CD priced at 800 yen. 英語版CDの購入者が殺到。
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Cooling off
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Then they signed autographs on the CD. CDのサインを求める。
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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)
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Making repairs. The boats are decades old.
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Verse 1 Lyrics (Otsu) 一番の英訳(大津). School logo on boat house, a cherry blossom with three stripes for Dai-san Koto Gakko.We're children of the lake, off to wander 'round.
This journey fills my heart with, intense happiness.
Rising mist evaporates, ripples come and go.
Shiga's Miyako dear, bid farewell for now.

われは湖の子 さすらいの
旅にしあれば しみじみと
のぼる狭霧や さざなみの
志賀の都よ いざさらば

Ware wa Umi no Ko, sasurai no
tabi ni shiareba, shimijimi to
Noboru sagiri ya, sazanami no
Shiga no Miyako yo, iza saraba
--
This first verse refers to the start of the journey of life. The lake mist symbolizes the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

The capital of Shiga is Otsu, where they departed from Mihogasaki boat harbor on June 27, 1917. For some reason, the kanji characters for "Shiga" is incorrect for Shiga Prefecture.

The photo above shows part of the stone monument for the first verse of the song. It reads "Ware wa Umi no Ko" (We're children of the lake). This is the song's first and most famous line. The monument is in a small park near the former boathouse in Mihogasaki pier. The photo has been digitally altered (the colors are not real).

All photos and English translation by Philbert Ono
写真・英訳:オノ フィルバート
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More autographs. 姉妹はやはり人気者。
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Newspaper reporters ask questions. A nice article about the cruise and the sisters appeared in the Kyoto Shimbun the next morning.
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Mixing with sailboats.
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"Rising mist evaporates, ripples come and go." のぼる狭霧や さざなみのImage composited by computer. The photo was taken from the boat house looking out toward the lake.
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Water lilies. The melody of the song originally came from a song called "Hitsuji-gusa" which means water lilies.
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Water lily (Hitsuji-gusa). ひつじぐさ
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Near miss?
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Reeds bid rowers farewell for now...
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After the boat cruise, there was a walking tour of Imazu. A special exhibition was held at the local community center in Imazu. 「周航の物語展」今津東コミセン
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Fireworks platform for the Biwako Fireworks that night.
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「周航の物語展」今津東コミセン
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Rowing off central Otsu. 大津
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Rear of boat house, now used by a private boat club.
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This showcase showed things from the old Daisan Koto Gakko college.
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Michigan paddlewheel boat. ミシガン
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Student uniform for Daisan Koto Gakko school.
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Michigan
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Daisan Koto Gakko Rowing club towel
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Toward Omi Ohashi Bridge. 近江大橋
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Daisan Koto Gakko book of songs
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The boat is deluged with large swells spilling into the boat. 大波
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Chojiya ryokan along the lake shore. Likely this is where Oguchi Taro and crew stayed. 丁子屋という旅館
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Taking out the water.
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Inside Chojiya. Very impressive Japanese-style inn with lake views.
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Omi Ohashi Bridge
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Room in Chojiya ryokan.
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Zeze Castle ruins 膳所城跡
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Inside Chojiya. The inn is famous for serving duck.
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Removing weeds caught on the oars.
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Another local landmark was this former bank building designed by William Merrell Vories who designed many buildings in Shiga, especially in Omi-Hachiman.
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JR train tracks (Biwako/Tokaido Line)
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Verse 3 Song Monument, Imazu. A lantern, at the end of the pier at Imazu Port. 三番の歌碑。今津港の桟橋。夜に赤く点灯。This is at the end of Imazu Pier. At night, this lamp lights up in red. You can see Chikubushima island and Mt. Ibuki in the background.
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Inside former bank building.
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Seta Karahashi Bridge on Seta River. 瀬田唐橋
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Verse 3 Song Monument
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In the evening during 5 pm-6:30pm, a slide show lecture about Oguchi Taro and Yoshida Chiaki was given by Iida Tadayoshi, a song researcher. Held at a hotel in Imazu. 歌と映像でつづる「小口太郎と吉田千秋の物語」講演会
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Home base. The gray concrete building is their boathouse.
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German-made accordian used by Yoshida Chiaki was also on display.
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The last boat arrives.
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View of Imazu shore from hotel
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Lots of water drained out when the boat was turned over.
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A reception was held afterward in the hotel. The mayor of Takashima, Hidekazu Kaito, speaks. I gave him a copy of our CD. 高島市長 海東英和
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The boats are stored outside since there is no room inside the boathouse which stores the most expensive boats.
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Verse 3 Song Monument is written with Verse 3.We drift from wave to wave, straying aimlessly.
On shore we see red fire, brings back memories.
With our sights set nowhere, rolling with the waves.
Today is Imazu or, Nagahama huh.

Nami no mani mani, tadayoeba
Akai tomaribi, natsukashimi
Yukue sadamenu, nami makura
Kyo wa Imazu ka, Nagahama ka

浪のまにまに 漂えば
赤い泊火 懐かしみ
行方定めぬ 浪枕
今日は今津か 長浜か
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Interestingly, the mayor's first name "Hidekazu" means "English-Japanese." The next day, at the choir contest, he told us that he listened to and liked our song.
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Singing the Lake Biwa Rowing Song (Biwako Shuko no Uta). 琵琶湖周航の歌「われは湖の子...」
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Imazu Port. Verse 3 Song Monument is at the end of the dock. The same dock used by boats going to Chikubushima. The dock is usually closed.Chikubushima island and Mt. Ibuki can be seen.
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Kanpai!
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Everyone enjoyed the rowing trip. The motorboat on Lake Biwa was fun and I got a lotta good shots.
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Meeting Iida Tadayoshi, song researcher and former NHK announcer.
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In the end, we all sang the song, including the mayor of Takashima.
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Verse 2 Lyrics (Omatsu/Omi-Maiko) 二番の英訳(雄松"Pine trees are very green, on sands very white.
Omatsugasato is, a young maiden's home.
Bush of red camellia, hides her teary face.
She's weeping o'er a lost love, much too short to last.

松は緑に 砂白き
雄松が里の 乙女子は
赤い椿の 森蔭に
はかない恋に 泣くとかや
Matsu wa midori ni, suna shiroki
Omatsugasato no, otomego wa
Akai tsubaki no, morikage ni
Hakanai koi ni, naku toka ya

Omi-Maiko is still famous for white sand beaches and pine trees. In summer these beaches are cluttered with people trying to get a tan.

See more photos of Omi-Maiko here.
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最後に皆で周航歌を歌う。
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Ware wa Umi no ko~. Jamie and Megan also sang the next day at the choir contest. More info about Lake Biwa Rowing Song here.
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"Pine trees are very green, on sands very white." Omi-MaikoSee more photos of Omi-Maiko here.
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White sands of Omi-Maiko (Omatsu), Otsu, Shiga
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Ripples lap white sands of Omi-Maiko.
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Pine trees at Omi-Maiko
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Biwako Shuko no Uta Birthplace Monument, Imazu. This is Imazu's second monument for the song. 全歌詞碑の「琵琶湖周航の歌」誕生の地 今津。今津港。背景には竹生島行きの船。Imazu has two monuments for the song. The first one is a lamp at the end of the pier (visible in this picture on the right of the boat). That was for Verse 3 which is written on the lamp post.

Later in 1994, Imazu town built this red clay monument to commemorate the song's birth in Imazu. The entire lyrics is also engraved. It is next to the Imazu boat pier where boats depart for Chikubushima. Looks like a red flame, but it's shaped after the geographical shape of Imazu town.

From Imazu, you can easily go to Chikubushima island, from which you can take another boat to go to Hikone or Nagahama. Going vice versa is possible too. It's a great way to cross the lake.

See more photos of Imazu here.
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Kyoto University Rowing Club arrive at Omi-Maiko in Aug. 2006 during their annual Lake Biwa rowing trip.
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The monument is engraved with the entire song and a picture of rowers.
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Omatsu "Famous Place" marker
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Imazu Port. Notice the "red flame" song monument on the right.
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Song Monument, Imazu. Looks like red fire, but it's also the shape of Imazu town.Directions: Near Omi-Imazu Station on the JR Kosei Line. Get out the east exit and walk on the main road toward the lake. You will soon see the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan song museum on the left. Be sure to visit this museum too. Walk further toward the lake and you will see Imazu Port. Near the water, you can see the "red fire" song monument. On the very end of the pier, and you can see the lamp monument. (The pier might be closed off if there is no boat, so you may have to ask permission to walk on the pier.) Omi-Imazu Station also has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map.
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Song monument at Imazu Port.
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Song Monument plaque, Imazu. It explains about how the song was created in Imazu.
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Imazu Port and song monument in winter snow.
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Chikubushima island and snowly Mt. Ibuki in the background.
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Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan (Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum), Imazu 琵琶湖周航の歌資料館、今津町This museum dedicated to this song opened in April 1998 in Imazu. It is a 3-min. walk from Omi-Imazu Station on the JR Kosei Line. Just walk on the main road toward the pier. The museum will be on the left.

Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mon. (open if Mon. is a national holiday, and closed on Tue. instead)
Free admission.
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Model of fixed-seat boat used during Oguchi Taro's time in 1917.Model of the fixed seat boat that Taro Oguchi and crew used to row around Lake Biwa. Displayed at the song museum in Imazu. The boat is quite stable and thus suited for long rowing trips. However, it became obsolete in the 1960s as competitive rowing boats incorporated sliding seats.

In 1993, a boat craftsman built two of these and donated them to Imazu. They measure 13.7 meters long and 1.25 meter wide. Seats 6 crew. They are available for rent at Imazu.
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"On shore, we see red fire"Imazu was where the song was born. The town has two monuments for the song. One is the lamp monument built in 1985 on the boat pier (top photo) for Verse 3 (written on the lamp post), and the other is a red stone monument in the shape of a fire dedicated to the entire song. The lamp monument lights up in red at night. The above image was digitally altered.

All photos and English translation by Philbert Ono
写真・英訳:オノ フィルバート
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Model of fixed-seat boat, Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan museum
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"On shore we see red fire, brings back memories." (Imazu)This is the lake beach at Imazu. While I was walking around this beach, I actually saw a small fire on the beach. Someone was burning rubbish. I immediately took a picture of it and was reminded of the song. However, the fire was really small with little visual impact, so I took this beautiful fire from another picture of mine and composited into this photo.

See more photos of Imazu here.
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Model of fixed-seat boat
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Lake shore at Imazu
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Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan (Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum), Imazu 琵琶湖周航の歌資料館The museum has various panel exhibits, videos, etc. Currently, no explanations in English. Tokiko Kato scored a national hit with the song in 1971.
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Peninsula where Oguchi Taro and crew departed Imazu.On this peninsula at Imazu, Taro Oguchi and crew departed in their boat for Chikubushima island. The large building is a boathouse that stores two reconstructed fixed-seat boats.
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The large boat house houses two reconstructed fixed-seat boats.This is where Oguchi and crew departed Imazu for Chikubushima.
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Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan (Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum), Imazu 琵琶湖周航の歌資料館
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Listening corner list of cover artists. There are many, and you can listen to each of them. Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan (Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum), ImazuThe song was included in a record for the first time in 1958 when Kyoto University made an album of its university songs on the 90th anniversary of the school's founding. In 1961, a chorus group named Boney Jacks recorded the song in an album of Japanese songs. And so did singer Peggy Hayama in 1962.
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Panel exhibits of each verse.
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Panel showing Japanese lyrics, old and new. Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan, ImazuOne of the exhibition panels with the song lyrics showing all the little quirks and idiosyncrasies of the words. This is the first verse.
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Oguchi Taro exhibit.
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Handpainted postcard from Taro Oguchi mailed from Imazu on June 28, 1917.During the rowing trip, Oguchi wrote a postcard to a friend back at the school dorm in Kyoto. One side of the card has his watercolor painting of Omatsu with pine trees on the sandy beach and a boat pier. Oguchi was quite good at painting.

Oguchi sent the postcard from Imazu on June 28, 1917, in the evening sometime between 9 pm and midnight after arriving from Omatsu. He sent it to a friend named Hiroshi Kodama back at the school dorm in Kyoto. However, the friend never received the postcard since he was back in his hometown in Niigata Prefecture for the summer.

The postcard was returned to Oguchi who kept it. If his friend had received the postcard, he would have certainly thrown it away (as he later mentioned in an interview). This postcard has survived miraculously and it is key evidence for the exact date when they were in Imazu where the song was created.

On the postcard, Oguchi writes about how easy it was to row to Omatsu the day before, thanks to a strong tailwind. He notes that Omatsu was a lonely place with only one lodge. They tied up the boat in the pond and rolled around on the sand till late night while gazing at the moon and dreaming of a beautiful girl. That morning, they played tug of war (it was fun). He also mentions that they were to lodge in Imazu that night.
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Old records by famous Japanese singers and groups who covered the song.
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Lake waters of Imazu, with Chikubushima and Mt. Ibuki in the distance.
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Nagahama Castle as seen from Lake Biwa. More photos of Nagahama here.The castle tower was reconstructed in 1984.

Digitally altered image. The colors (except for the castle) are not real.

More photos of Nagahama here.
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Chojiya ryokan inn, Imazu. This is probably the inn where Taro Oguchi and crew stayed in Imazu and created the song in 1917. 丁子屋It is along the lake shore and still in business today.

It was on June 28, 1917 in Imazu, after dinner on the second day of their rowing trip, when a boatmate named Jiro Nakayasu exclaimed, "Hey everyone, listen up! Oguchi has written this song," and showed everyone the song. Then another boatmate named Taniguchi, who knew a popular song called Hitsuji Kusa (Water Lilies), began singing Oguchi's lyrics to the melody. Since the melody went well with the words, the seven boat crewmates sang the song together that night. It was the birth of the Lake Biwa Rowing Song. The boys worked on the song further and sang it while rowing.

See more photos of Imazu here.
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Chikubushima as seen from Imazu
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Verse 4 Lyrics (Chikubushima) 四番の英訳(竹生島)Azure blue flower garden, revered coral shrine.
Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima.
In the hands of Buddha, one young maiden lies.
She's sleeping in compassion, resting peacefully.

瑠璃の花園 珊瑚の宮
古い伝えの 竹生島
仏の御手に いだかれて
ねむれ乙女子 やすらけく

Ruri no hanazono, sango no miya
Furui tsutae no, Chikubujima
Hotoke no mite ni, idakarete
Nemure otomego, yasurakeku

Lake Biwa's most famous and sacred island is accessible by boat from Hikone, Nagahama, and Imazu.

Digitally altered image, this is not the real color of the water...
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Verse 4 Song Monument, Chikubushima. Built in 1987 by Biwako Kisen, tour boat operator. 四番の歌碑。竹生島の桟橋のすぐそば。琵琶湖汽船が寄贈。The monument is right near the island's boat pier.

See more photos of Chikubushima here.
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"Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima."The island has a complex of temples named Hogonji. It belongs to the Shingon Buddhist Sect (Buzan School). It is said that it was first built in 724. It is also the 30th temple in the 33 Temple Pilgrimage of Saigoku (Western Japan).

See more photos of Chikubushima here.
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Verse 4 Song Monument, ChikubushimaAzure blue flower garden, revered coral shrine.
Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima.
In the hands of Buddha, one young maiden lies.
She's sleeping in compassion, resting peacefully.

Ruri no hanazono, sango no miya
Furui tsutae no, Chikubujima
Hotoke no mite ni, idakarete
Nemure otomego, yasurakeku

瑠璃の花園 珊瑚の宮
古い伝えの 竹生島
仏の御手に いだかれて
ねむれ乙女子 やすらけく
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"Azure blue flower garden, revered coral shrine."
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Broken dishes near the torii
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Rear of Verse 4 Song Monument, Chikubushima.It explains about the origin of the song. The monument was donated by the Biwako Kisen tour boat company which operates the boats going to the island as well as other tour boats in Lake Biwa, including the Michigan paddlewheel boat based in Otsu.
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Chikubushima boat dock. The Verse 4 Song Monument on can be seen on the left.
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"Full of old-time stories, Chikubushima."Karamon Gate, National Treasure
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Verse 3 Song Monument, Nagahama. Built and unveiled on June 25, 2017 by a non-profit citizens group in Nagahama formed to build this new song monument for the song's 100th anniversary. 三番の歌碑。長浜城のそばThe new Verse 3 Song Monument is near Nagahama Castle near the lake shore. It was unveiled with great fanfare by singer Kato Tokiko and others.
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Buddha statue on Chikubushima
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The song monument is made of glass and functions as a park bench for four people. Glassware is one of Nagahama's signature products. Verse 3 is engraved in the middle. It reportedly cost several million yen.After the unveiling, local singers sang the song with Kato Tokiko before everyone released balloons.
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The first people to sit on the song monument. L-R: Nagahama-native Kitagawa Akihiro of the duo ~Lefa~, singer and special guest Kato Tokiko, Kada Yukiko former Shiga governor, and the mayor of Nagahama.
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Buddha statue on Chikubushima
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On June 26, 2017, alumni of the Kyoto University Rowing Club rowed around Lake Biwa and took a break at Nagahama where they sang in front of the new song monument.
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Verse 3 Song Monument at Nagahama's Hokoen Park. It is shaped like a boat and the top has a wavy surface like the water. It is called the "nami-makura" (rolling waves) design.The glass bench is positioned for sunset views over the lake.
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Verse 3 Song Monument in Nagahama's Hokoen Park near Nagahama Castle is engraved with Verse 3.We drift from wave to wave, straying aimlessly.
On shore we see red fire, brings back memories.
With our sights set nowhere, rolling with the waves.
Today is Imazu or, Nagahama huh.

Nami no mani mani, tadayoeba
Akai tomaribi, natsukashimi
Yukue sadamenu, nami makura
Kyo wa Imazu ka, Nagahama ka

浪のまにまに 漂えば
赤い泊火 懐かしみ
行方定めぬ 浪枕
今日は今津か 長浜か
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The glass bench actually consists of several glass pieces. A few are largely transparent.
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Tsukubusuma Shrine (National Treasure), Chikubushima 都久夫須麻神社
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It's a beautiful design, but quite expensive. The non-profit group was unable to garner enough donations for the monument. They fell far short of the ¥10 million goal.
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Benzaiten Goddess with her biwa lute
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Incense burner in the Kannon temple on Chikubushima.
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Verse 5 Song Monument, Hikone Port 五番の歌碑。彦根港The left stone is inscribed with the entire song, and bigger stone on the right has the lyrics for verse 5. There is also another stone which shows a map of the lake and rowing route. The monument is now encroached by tall grass and weeds.

This song monument was built in Oct. 2005 at a cost of 8 million yen (gathered through donations). With this, now all six verses each have a song monument. This one is next to Hikone Port where you board the boat to visit Chikubushima or Takeshima.
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Incense burner
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Close-up of main stone monument where Verse 5 is written. 2005年10月に除幕されて一番新しい歌碑。800万円の寄付金で建てた。Sharp arrows buried deeply, way into the ground.
Abundant summer grasses, a moat still remains.
Standing in an old castle, all alone oneself.
Hira and Ibuki too, only but a dream.

Ya no ne wa, fukaku uzumorete
Natsukusa shigeki, hori no ato
Kojo ni hitori, tatazumeba
Hira mo Ibuki mo, yume no goto

矢の根は 深く埋もれて
夏草しげき 堀のあと
古城にひとり 佇めば
比良も伊吹も 夢のごと
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Pagoda on Chikubushima. See more photos of Chikubushima here.
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Verse 5 Song Monument, the third monument showing the rowing route, Hikone PortThe monument's third stone shows a map of the lake and rowing route. It also states the dates when all the song monuments were built in Shiga.

See more photos of Hikone here.
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Verse 5 Song Monument facing Hikone Port. See more photos of Hikone here.The three-stone monument is in a good location facing Hikone Port.

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Verse 5 Lyrics (Hikone) 五番の英訳(彦根)Sharp arrows buried deeply, way into the ground.
Abundant summer grasses, a moat still remains.
Standing in an old castle, all alone oneself.
Hira and Ibuki too, only but a dream.

矢の根は 深く埋もれて
夏草しげき 堀のあと
古城にひとり 佇めば
比良も伊吹も 夢のごと

Ya no ne wa, fukaku uzumorete
Natsukusa shigeki, hori no ato
Kojo ni hitori, tatazumeba
Hira mo Ibuki mo, yume no goto
--
This is the only verse where the setting is not specifically mentioned. The only hint is "old castle," which must be either Nagahama Castle or Hikone Castle. It is likely that it is Hikone Castle with its authentic castle tower and moats. Hikone was also where they stopped overnight. (Nagahama was only a lunch stop, and there was no castle tower during their time.) We can call this the "aging and reminiscing verse" with referrals to the past.

Since 1973, various sponsors have been building stone monuments for the song. The respective settings of Otsu, Omatsu (Omi-Maiko), Imazu, Chikubushima, and Chomeiji all have a stone monument for their respective verse. But there has been no monument for this 5th verse, perhaps because no place name is mentioned. Finally, just recently in Oct. 2005, a stone monument for this 5th verse was unveiled in Hikone, near the port. We can now see a stone monument for each of the six verses of the song.

See more photos of Hikone here.

All photos and English translation by Philbert Ono
写真・英訳:オノ フィルバート
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Verse 6 Song Monument, Chomeiji Port. Built in 1998. 六番の歌碑。長命寺(バス停のすぐそば)Near the Chomeiji bus stop. It faces the pier. This monument has the most number of stones. But only two of them are used.

See more photos of Chomeiji Temple here.
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"Abundant summer grasses, a moat still remains"
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Kyoto University Rowing Club visit the Verse 6 monument during their during their annual Lake Biwa rowing trip. 写真/尾城徹雄Chomeiji is one of their overnight stops during their 3-day rowing trip.
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Main stone of Verse 6 Monument 問題の「西国十番」が刻んでいない。Saigoku pilgrimage, Chomeiji.
Dispel this world's impureness, very faraway.
Golden waves on which we weave, rowing all we can.
Tell us my friends your stories, with your fervent hearts.

Saigoku Juban, Chomeiji
Kegare no utsushiyo, tooku sarite
Kogane no nami ni, iza kogan
Katare wagatomo, atsuki kokoro

西国十番 長命寺
汚れの現世 遠く去りて
黄金の波に いざ漕がん
語れ我が友 熱き心
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Hikone Castle
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The first verse is wriiten, but the first line about Chomeiji being the 10th temple in the Saigoku Pilgrimage is omitted.Chomeiji is the 31st temple in the Saigoku Pilgrimage, not the 10th temple as sung in the song.
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More photos of Hikone Castle here.The castle tower is a National Treasure. Hikone Castle is one of only four castle towers in Japan designated as National Treasures. (The others being Himeji, Inuyama, and Matsumoto Castles. Nijo Castle in Kyoto is also a National Treasure, but it does not have a castle tower.)

See more photos of Hikone Castle here.
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Rear of Verse 6 monument. Next to the main stone is a plaque for the entire lyrics.
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Mt. Ibuki as seen from Lake Biwa. More photos of Mt. Ibuki here.Digitally altered image.
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Plaque for entire lyrics, Verse 6 Song Monument, ChomeijiJapanese lyrics of the entire song consisting of 6 verses.
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Message plaque, Verse 6 Song Monument, Chomeiji
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Verse 6 Song Monument facing Chomeiji pier
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Verse 6 Song Monument, Chomeiji Temple. Built in Nov. 2011.Directions: From Omi-Hachiman Station on the JR Biwako Line, take a bus to Chomeiji. Takes about 20 min. Omi-Hachiman Station has a tourist information office where you can obtain directions and a map. You can also rent a bicycle at the station and follow the map to Chomeiji Port. The monument is in a small park in front of the port near the Chomeiji bus stop. The other Verse 6 monument is within the Chomeiji temple grounds. Climb the 800 steps (quite strenuous) to the temple or call a taxi to drive up near the top.
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Verse 6 Lyrics (Chomeiji) 六番の英訳(長命寺)Saigoku pilgrimage, Chomeiji.
Dispel this world's impureness, very faraway.
Golden waves on which we weave, rowing all we can.
Tell us my friends your stories, with your fervent hearts.

西国十番 長命寺
汚れの現世 遠く去りて
黄金の波に いざ漕がん
語れ我が友 熱き心

Saigoku Juban, Chomeiji
Kegare no utsushiyo, tooku sarite
Kogane no nami ni, iza kogan
Katare wagatomo, atsuki kokoro
--
This verse is said to refer to the Pure Land of Buddhism. The song has strong Buddhist overtones, but interestingly the melody happens to be based on a Christian hymn. Chomeiji was a lunch stop before they rowed back to Otsu.

Calling Chomeiji the "10th Temple" is the song's most glaring mistake. It is actually the 31st Temple on the Saigoku Pilgrimage, a circuit of 33 temples scattered in Wakayama, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Nara, Shiga, and Gifu Prefectures. But "31st" in Japanese had too many syllables to match the song's melody. Therefore, "10th" was used. It goes to show how informally the song was written. They had no idea how famous and beloved the song would become. Chomeiji's stone monument for this verse shows only the last two lines and omits the mistaken "10th Temple" line.

The photo above was digitally altered. The colors are not real.

All photos and English translation by Philbert Ono
写真・英訳:オノ フィルバート

See more photos of Chomeiji Temple here.
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Donated by Omi-Hachiman resident Fukao Katsuyoshi and unveiled on Nov. 5, 2011.
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Unlike the song monument at Chomeiji Port, this monument includes the first line of Verse 6 with the mistaken "Saigoku Pilgrimage 10th temple."
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"Saigoku pilgrimage, Chomeiji."
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The monument is in a very good location within the Chomeiji temple grounds. All temple visitors have to pass by the monument. It also overlooks the lake.
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Chomeiji, 31st temple on the Saigoku Pilgrimage Circuit
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Chomeiji worships the Kannon goddess of long life and good health. "Chomeiji" literally means "Long Life Temple." See more photos of Chomeiji Temple here.
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"Dispel this world's impureness, very faraway."
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Oguchi Taro Statue and Biwako Shuko no Uta Song Monument. On the shore of Lake Suwa, Okaya, Nagano. 歌碑と小口太郎銅像This was where I first heard the song, "Biwako Shuko no Uta." In May 2004, I was in Suwa, Nagano Pref. to see and photograph the Onbashira Festival (held every 6 years). My hotel was in the neighboring city of Okaya on the shores of Lake Suwa.

I walked around the lake and came across this statue of Taro Oguchi and song monument. I was very surprised when I saw the word "Biwako" (Lake Biwa). This was Nagano, not Shiga, so it was most unexpected to see "Biwako" here. I read the song lyrics on the monument and was surprised and delighted to see the names of well-known places in Shiga.

The monument even had music box (seen on left) where you could hear three versions of the song. I immediately found it intriguing.
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Stone monument for Verse 6
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"Golden waves on which we weave..."
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Taro Oguchi Statue and Song Monument in winter.
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About Taro Oguchi.The song was written as a collaboration among boatmates, but Taro Oguchi (小口太郎) (1897-1924) is credited as being the main song writer. He was born in 1897 (Meiji 30) in Minato-mura village, now part of Okaya city on the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture.

He grew up in a loving and respected family and demonstrated an early talent for writing, music (violin and shakuhachi), and sports (judo, skiing, skating). Since he was the eldest son expected to take over the family home, there was opposition for him to go away for college. However, his father was persuaded to allow Taro to apply for college at the elite No. 3 High School (later to become Kyoto University). It was one of nine college-level schools in Japan, the No. 3 school being one of the most elite.

Contrary to family expectations, Taro passed the entrance exam, went school in Kyoto in 1914 and joined the rowing and speech clubs. In 1917, he wrote the famous song about Lake Biwa which first went public in 1918.
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Golden waves
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Regatta on Lake Biwa
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Statue of Oguchi Taro
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More info about Lake Biwa Rowing Song here.
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Statue of Oguchi Taro 小口太郎銅像Short walk from JR Okaya Station. Walk toward the shore of Lake Suwa. The monument is near the mouth of Tenryu River.
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"Tell us my friends your stories, with your fervent hearts."
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Closeup of Taro Oguchi statueHe graduated in 1919 and furthered his studies at Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo) in the science department. In 1921, he invented the wired and wireless multiplex telegraph and telephone system which was patented in eight countries. He was an extremely bright young man with a promising future.

In 1922, he entered the university's aeronautical research institute as a researcher. However, his life soon took a downturn from 1923 when he received a military conscription notice. A love interest for marriage also did not work out as desired. His physical health deteriorated and he terminated his own life the following year in 1924 at age 26.
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Rear view, looking toward Lake Suwa.
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Side view of Taro Oguchi Statue and Song Monument in spring with azaleas.
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Side view of Taro Oguchi Statue and Song Monument in winter. 小口太郎顕彰碑
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