Image search results - "uta"
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Nebuta are giant, wire-frame, paper lanterns shaped in various legendary and macho characters.The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is held in Aomori City in Aomori Prefecture during Aug. 2-7. Nebuta are giant, wire-frame, paper lanterns shaped in various legendary and macho characters such as samurai warriors, demons, and gods. They are fantastic works of art dramatically illuminated from the inside. The floats are paraded along the main streets of the city near Aomori Station every night of the festival.

From August 2 to 6, the Nebuta parade is held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. On the 2nd and 3rd, the parade is geared for the many children who participate by pulling the floats. About 15 large Nebuta floats and some small Nebuta floats for the children are paraded.

The festival's peak period is from the 4th to the 6th when over 20 large Nebuta floats make their rounds. Be sure to see the festival on one of these three nights.

On the 7th, the last day, the parade is in the afternoon from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Later in the evening, the Nebuta floats are put on boats to be highlighted by a fireworks display.

The festival is designated by the government as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset and not to be missed if you have the chance. It's well worth the trip up north.
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Moving the Neputa floats into position.Held during Aug. 1-7, the Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri is without the rowdiness of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri. Instead of the haneto, there are many children pulling the floats with ropes. The main floats are fan-shaped and more two-dimensional and lantern-like. As with the Nebuta floats, the Neputa floats are handpainted and illuminated from the inside. There are two parade routes which are followed alternately on different nights. On the 7th, there is only a daytime parade from 10:00 a.m. If it rains on any day, the parade may be canceled.
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The Nebuta floats are judged in a contest and various awards are given.The Nebuta floats are beautiful objects of light. They are swung left and right and all around. The crowd applaud whenever the Nebuta faces them directly. The sculpture's lights inside are powered by a noisy generator on wheels under the float. The parade progresses quickly and the splendid Nebuta figures pass by one after another. You have to be there in person to feel the power and presence of the giant Nebuta. They represent the very soul and spirit of men. It's enough to give you goose bumps.

The Nebuta floats are judged in a contest and various awards are given. The best ones are preserved at the Nebuta-no-Sato (Nebuta Village) after the festival.
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There are three types of floats: the large fan-shaped Neputa, Nebuta-type figures, and the children's small Neputa.I got to Hirosaki early enough before the parade to see the floats lined up at the starting point. Hirosaki is a 30-min. train ride from Aomori, and best known for Hirosaki Castle during cherry blossom season.
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According to one story, the Nebuta has its roots in the 8th century.According to one story, the Nebuta has its roots in the 8th century when there was a rebellion in Ezo (Hokkaido). Ordered by Emperor Kanmu to quell the rebellion, generalissmo Sakanoue no Tamuramaro went to Ezo. However, he failed to capture the elusive chief of Ezo who went into hiding in the mountains.

Sakanoue then set up a trap with large votive lanterns which were lit and accompanied by taiko drums and flutes. This lured the curious Ezo chief out of hiding and led to his capture. The large lanterns were the forerunner of the Nebuta.
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Lunch break
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The first Nebuta was a large paper lantern made in 1593.According to historical records, the first Nebuta was a large paper lantern made in 1593 by Lord Tamenobu of Tsugaru (now part of Aomori) for the Bon festival in Kyoto. The Nebuta Festival itself started in the late 17th century.
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Fan-shaped Neputa float.The painted picture on the front of the Neputa depicts mostly warriors and on the back are beautiful courtesans.
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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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Preparation for building a Nebuta sculpture starts right after the preceding Nebuta Festival.Preparation for building a Nebuta sculpture starts right after the preceding Nebuta Festival. During fall and winter, Nebuta artists conceive the ideas for the next year's Nebuta floats. The Nebuta figures depict some scene from kabuki or Japanese/Chinese history or legend. Once a theme is chosen, a sketch or design is made and presented to the sponsor (usually a company). Upon approval, actual construction begins.

During February and March, the smaller parts of the Nebuta figure, such as the hands and fingers, are constructed at home with steel wiring.

In May, a tent village is put up. In each tent, full-scale construction of the Nebuta is executed until the end of June. Steel wiring and slender pieces of wood are used to build the frame and props.

After the skeleton of lumber and wire is completed, about 400 light bulbs and fluorescent lights are installed inside. The lights are strategically placed so that the shadow of the lumber pieces is not cast outward.

Then comes the tedious task of pasting washi paper on the wire frame. This is done by highly-skilled housewives who have been doing it for 10 to 20 years. About ten of them work on one Nebuta, taking about 10 days. Since they have to work dextrously in all sorts of contorted positions, it is not a popular job and fewer women are willing to do it.

The paper is cut to fit the exact segment (usually rectangular) on the wire frame. A toothbrush is used to apply glue on the wiring and the paper is pasted and cut. Extra care is taken when the figure's face is papered. About 2,500 sheets of 531 x 393 mm paper are consumed in the process.
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The floats were jerked left and right and spun around.At 7:00 p.m., the taiko drum-beating started and the floats left the starting point one by one. The beat of the taiko drums was the same as that in the Nebuta Matsuri. A few men stood on the top of the large Neputa and collapsed the hinged, top portion to clear overhead power lines. The floats were jerked left and right and spun around.
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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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There are fewer than 30 Nebuta artists in the world.The giant white figure is brought to life by a Nebuta artist who paints it all by himself. First, the figure's basic outlines are painted with black sumi ink. Liquid paraffin is then applied to prevent the ink from running. Then colored dyes are painted or sprayed. When it comes to the face, very special care is taken. If he makes a mistake on the face, the paper is torn away and new sheets are pasted on. The very last thing painted on the Nebuta are the eyeballs. They give the sculpture its soul.

The completed Nebuta is lifted from the ground by 50 people onto a 1.5-meter-high wheeled platform. An illumination test symbolizes the Nebuta's completion. To ensure easy movement on the street, the Nebuta float is restricted to a width of 9 meters and a height of 5 meters. The float also bears the name of the sponsoring company or organization. It costs 10 to 20 million yen to build and operate a large Nebuta float. Corporate sponsors think it's money well spent since the Nebuta makes a great advertising vehicle and enhances the corporate image.

Top Nebuta artists are given over 3 million yen to cover labor and materials costs. By the time all the bills are paid, the artist has less than one-third the amount as compensation. Obviously, Nebuta artists are grossly underpaid for their highly-appreciated work. It really is a labor of love, and not for the money.

There are fewer than 30 Nebuta artists in the world, and only three of them work as full-time Nebuta artists. Since there is no money in it, would-be Nebuta artists and apprentices are few. To make it worse, there are no governmental measures to help resolve the problem.
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Nebuta-type float with a paper sculpture of a figure.
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Other side of the monument is in English. See this video of the unveiling.
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The Nebuta festival is a great visual spectacle as well as a sound delight.The Nebuta festival is a great visual spectacle as well as a sound delight. The resounding beat of the taiko drums and the shrill of the flutes give the festival its soul. These are placed at regular intervals throughout the parade. The taiko beat is simple and repetitive, yet powerful and infectious.
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Neputa float. All the floats are on wheels so these people are not actually carrying the floats.
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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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Distinctly-costumed dancers called haneto.Each Nebuta float is accompanied by thousands of distinctly-costumed dancers called haneto. The huge Nebuta overlook a sea of haneto out in front with their colorful flowered straw hats bobbing up and down. They jerk and jingle and hop all over the road while shouting "Rasse, Rasse, Rassera!" They twist and shout amid reverberating taiko drums and flutes.

Sometimes they form a small circle and dance in unison. Their costumes have little bells which often fall off. Little kids run and pick up the fallen bells on the road. It is a frenzied celebration. If you want to join in the fun, you have to rent or buy a haneto costume (for around ¥10,000).
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Closeup of a Neputa float.Theories concerning the origin of the Neputa are identical to those of the Nebuta. However, in the 1880's, the Neputa gradually changed from human figures into a fan shape. The floats have come a long way since then. Candles have been replaced by generator-powered lights and the washi paper has been replaced by washi paper blended with nylon. The festival is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset.
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The parade route is quite long, and it's crowded along the parade route near Aomori Station.The parade route is quite long, and it's crowded along the parade route near Aomori Station. If you want plenty of elbow room while viewing, go toward the end of the parade route where the crowd is sparse.

In recent years, the Nebuta Festival has seen disturbances caused by gate-crashing, young hoodlums. A large police force is put in place to prevent trouble.
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People pull the float along.
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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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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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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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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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And sometimes they have to stop it.
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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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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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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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Children's night at Aomori Nebuta MatsuriOn the 2nd and 3rd, the parade is mainly for children who participate by pulling the floats. About 15 large Nebuta floats and some small Nebuta floats for the children are paraded.
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Float pullers at Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri
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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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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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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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Some female haneto taking a break after the festival.
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The beat was the same as at the Nebuta Festival.There were also many giant taiko drums with female taiko drummers.
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Okutama Station at night
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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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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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The long, slender drum sticks make a very penetrating, slapping sound.The drum sticks are long, slender, and slightly elastic. They make a very penetrating, slapping sound. It's a real treat to watch these vivacious women beating these huge drums in unison.
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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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2nd floor of Okutama Station has a gallery and soba shop
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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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Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor.
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Nebuta Danchi village where the floats are stored during the day.During the day, the Nebuta floats are housed in a tent village (Nebuta Danchi) open to the public. Each Nebuta has its own giant, green tent. These are the same tents used when the Nebuta were constructed.
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Drumming at sunset.The Neputa Festival is not as big as the Nebuta Festival and has smaller floats, but it has its own, unique attractions. Hirosaki is a highly recommended side trip from Aomori.
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Festival during the day.
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Okutama Station platform
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Megan and Jamie Thompson about to board the boat. トンプソン姉妹
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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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Many children come and sit in front of the Nebuta to sketch it.
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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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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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Nice during the day, but more dramatic at night.
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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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Stairs from Yoshida Chiaki's room on the 2nd floor.
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This young girl was quite a talented artist who drew the attention of the other kids.
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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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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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Perhaps she might be able to help paint (or build) the real thing someday.
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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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Table of Contents of magazine "Ongaku-kai" (The Musical Japan) 音楽界. Many music-related articles.
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Meoto-Iwa Wedded Rocks off the coast of Futami-cho, Ise city, Mie Prefecture. 夫婦岩
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Taiko drummer
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Shirahige Shrine 白髭神社
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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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The Wedded Rocks are part of Futami Okitama Shrine known for frog sculptures. 二見興玉神社
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Shirahige Shrine torii as seen from the cruise boat.
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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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The shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko and Ukano-mitama. Sarutahiko is a god which serves as a pathfinder guide. Deities for land/sea transportation safety. 二見
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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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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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The frog is Sarutahiko's messenger. Frog is called "kaeru" in Japanese, which is a homonym for the another word meaning "return home." If you travel a lot, pray here for a safe return. 夫婦岩
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Omi-Maiko appears in the song.
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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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Futami Okitama Shrine does not have a main hall (Honden) like most other shrines. It worships the Okitama Sacred Stone in the ocean beyond the Wedded Rocks. 二見興玉神社
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Rolling with the waves
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Lantern and sunset at Futami Okitama Shrine
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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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Sunset at Futami Okitama Shrine. In the old days when traveling was a hazardous undertaking in Japan, pilgrims who traveled to worship at the Ise Grand Shrines prayed here for a safe return home.
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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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The shimenawa rope bonding the Wedded Rocks is replaced three times a year. May 5, when these photos were taken, is one of the days when they replace the rope. First, they gathered at the shrine at 10 am for a 30-min. prayer ceremony.
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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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Men carry spanking-new shimenawa ropes to the rocks.
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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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The Wedded Rocks are actually a type of torii gate for worshipping the Okitama Sacred Stone in the ocean.1 comments
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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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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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The torii on the larger rock is quite small. The sacred rope is replaced three times a year on May 5, September 5, and at the end of December.
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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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5月5日、9月5日と12月下旬には夫婦岩の大注連縄の張り替え神事が行われる。これらの写真は5月5日に撮影された。
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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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The men begin to cut off the old rope. Those sharp sickles soon made short work of the old sacred ropes which were brought ashore in small pieces.
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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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The ceremony attracts a large crowd.
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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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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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The shimenawa rope actually consists of five smaller ropes. They cut the ropes one by one.
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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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The ropes are now completely cut, breaking the bond between the two rocks.
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Then they signed autographs on the CD. CDのサインを求める。
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The old rope is taken away.
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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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The new ropes are strung across the two rocks. A small rope tied to the end of the large rope is used to pull the large rope up the rock.
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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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"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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The first rope is wound around both rocks.
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Water lily (Hitsuji-gusa). ひつじぐさ
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The second rope is installed.
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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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「周航の物語展」今津東コミセン
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One by one, the men carefully positioned the new sacred ropes on the two Rocks. All the while, young children and young men are chanting on the shore.
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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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Student uniform for Daisan Koto Gakko school.
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Replacing the rope for the Wedded Rocks, Mie Pref.
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Daisan Koto Gakko Rowing club towel
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Five ropes are being positioned and made taut.
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Daisan Koto Gakko book of songs
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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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All the while, the cheering section chants and wave streamers.
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Inside Chojiya. Very impressive Japanese-style inn with lake views.
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Room in Chojiya ryokan.
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Inside Chojiya. The inn is famous for serving duck.
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One of two floating bridges supported by floating barrels. ドラム缶橋
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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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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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Pieces of the old rope. Anyone could take home the pieces of old sacred rope if they wanted.
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This is near Ogochi Shrine.
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Inside former bank building.
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Making sure that the rope is aligned and positioned correctly.
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Verse 3 Song Monument
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ドラム缶橋
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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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The job is finished.
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German-made accordian used by Yoshida Chiaki was also on display.
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The rope installers return to shore.
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ドラム缶橋
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View of Imazu shore from hotel
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Wedded Rocks with a new rope. Japan has numerous other Wedded Rocks and stones, but this is by far the most famous.
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The bridge sways as you walk on it.
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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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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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The bridge can be disconnected and removed if necessary.
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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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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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Floating drum ドラム缶橋
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Kanpai!
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Walking on the bridge
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Meeting Iida Tadayoshi, song researcher and former NHK announcer.
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The other side of the bridge is a trail to a nearby village.
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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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Railing broken by snow.
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最後に皆で周航歌を歌う。
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Tree keeled over.
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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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Lake Okutama
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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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