|Aisho, Shiga (愛荘町町; Aisho-chō)|
|Kongorinji temple, a National Treasure More Aisho photos here.|
|Google Map of Aisho here.|
|Location||Shiga Prefecture, Kinki region, Honshu island, JAPAN|
|Population||20,755 (421 foreigners) (2014-06-01)|
|Town Centers||Echigawa Station|
|Major Sights||Kongorinji temple|
|Major Gateways||Echigawa Station (also Inae Station and Toyosato Station in neighboring municipalities)|
|Train Stations||Echigawa Station (Ohmi Railways)|
|Claim to Fame||Kongorinji temple (one of the Koto Sanzan temples)|
|Products||Bin-temari or thread balls in glass bottles|
|Neighbors||Hikone, Kora-cho, Toyosato-cho, Taga-cho, Higashi-Omi|
|Old Name(s)||Echigawa-cho, Hatasho-cho|
|Keywords||Echigawa River, Nakasendo, bin-temari|
|Links||Aisho Articles | Aisho Photos|
|Aisho Tourist Information|
|Location||Tourist info counter at Echigawa Station community house 愛荘町愛知川観光協会〒529-1234 滋賀県愛知郡愛荘町安孫子825|
|Phone||0749-42-8444 (Echigawa Station community house), 0749-37-8051 (Head office)|
|Tourist Links||Aisho town Echigawa Tourism|
|Int'l Association||[http Web site] Tel:|
|Aisho Town Hall 愛荘町町役場|
|Address||Echigawa Branch: Echigawa 72, Hatasho-cho, Echi-gun, Shiga 529-1380 JAPAN
Hatasho Branch: Abiko 825, Hatasho-cho, Echi-gun, Shiga 529-1234 JAPAN
|Phone/Fax||Echigawa Branch Phone: 0749-42-4111
Hatasho Branch Phone: 0749-37-2051
|Official Site||Japanese | English|
|Sister Towns||West Bend, Wisconsin, USA; Nakagawa-machi (那珂川町), Tochigi Pref.|
Last updated: May 2, 2019
by Philbert Ono
Nakasendo Road Post Town - Echigawa
Aisho (愛荘町; -chō) is a town in eastern Shiga Prefecture.
The town is near the geographic center of Shiga, east of Lake Biwa and between the northern and southern regions of Shiga. Its main attraction is Kongorinji temple which is a National Treasure. The Nakasendo Road also passes through the town with Echigawa-juku as the 66th post town. One symbol of Echigawa is the bin-temari threaded ball fitted in a round glass bottle.
Blessed with two major rivers, the Echigawa River and Uso River, forty percent of the land is devoted to rice and other agriculture. Most of the clean water comes from the nearby Suzuka Mountains (on the border with Mie Prefecture). The town is also a textile-producing area, known for indigo and hemp fabric called "Omi Jofu."
The town was formed in Feb. 2006 upon the merging of Echigawa (愛知川町) and Hatasho (秦荘町) towns. The name "Aisho" combines the first kanji character of "Echigawa" and the second kanji character for "Hatasho." Many Japanese outside Shiga commonly mispronounce "Echigawa" as "Aichigawa" since the kanji for "Echi" is the same as "Aichi" for Aichi Prefecture.
|Kongorinji temple||Kongorinji temple||Misaki Shrine Fire Festival|
- Kongorinji temple 金剛輪寺 - Tendai Buddhist temple established in 741 and the middle temple in the Koto Sanzan Temple Trio. The main temple hall is a National Treasure housing an 11-faced Kannon statue and 13 other statues designated as Important Cultural Properties. The 3-story pagoda is engulfed in foliage in autumn. Also see many little stone Jizo statues. Visit this temple before or after Saimyoji temple. Admission 500 yen. Map
- Misaki Shrine fire Festival 御崎神社の火まつり - Held annually on May 4, the local people carry 2-meter long torches from their homes to the shrine. A taiko drum is also carried and beaten. The shrine has a 5-meter tall pile of bamboo which is lit to make a towering inferno within the shrine grounds. Very dramatic. Map
- Aisho History and Culture Museum 愛荘町立歴史文化博物館 - Adjacent to Kongorinji temple, this museum displays various articles related to the town's history and culture. Admission 300 yen. Hours: 10:00 - 17:00, closed Mon. and Tue. (Open if national holiday, and closed the following day instead) Phone 0749-37-4500. 〒529-1202 滋賀県愛知郡愛荘町大字松尾寺878番地 Map
- Bin-Temari no Yakata Museum 愛知川びん手まりの館 - Museum and library complex showing colorful thread balls in glass bottles on exhibit. Echigawa's bin-temari history goes back to around 1840 when its oldest bin-temari was made. However, this traditional art died out with the death of Aoki Hiro in 1973, Echigawa's last bin-temari maker. After Aoki's death, a temari preservation society was formed and the craft was passed on based on Aoki's husband's memory of how his wife made it. Besides Echigawa, only a few other places in Japan still make bin-temari. The Aisho Public Library also has a sister city exhibit showing gifts from Aisho's sister city of West Bend, Wisconsin. Near Echigawa Station. Map
- Echigawa-juku 愛知川宿 - This was the sixty-sixth station or post town (shukuba) of the sixty-nine stations on the Nakasendo Road. It is the sixth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Takamiya-juku in Hikone), and one of ten Nakasendo stations in Shiga. It has a few reminders of its shukuba past such as Homanji temple 宝満寺 where Saint Shinran once stayed and planted a plum tree which blooms in March. Near Ohmi Railways Echigawa Station. Map
- Kongoen 金剛苑- Indigo dyeing and weaving factory. Try indigo dyeing here. Address: 滋賀県愛知郡愛荘町蚊野外514, Phone: 0749-37-4131 Map
- Omi Jofu Dento Sangyo Kaikan 近江上布伝統産業会館 - Omi hemp and ramie fabrics on display and for sale. Hands-on weaving lessons also offered (reserve by phone). Omi Jofu is a high-quality fabric geared for summer wear and designated as a Japanese traditional craft (one of three in Shiga, the other two being Shiragaki pottery and Hikone Buddhist altars). Near Ohmi Railways Echigawa Station. Free admission. Closed on weekends and national holidays. Address: 愛知川113-7, Phone: 0749-42-3246 Map
- UCC Shiga Factory UCC滋賀工場 - Famous canned coffee maker UCC offers free factory tours twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They offer two tours on both days starting at 10 am and 1 pm. The tour is about 80 min. and up to 22 people can join the tour. Make reservations (in Japanese) at the UCC website. The tour includes a coffee-tasting session to compare regular coffee with coffee made with a concentrate, a video showing UCC’s coffee fields in Hawaii and Jamaica, an explanation of how coffee is made, a tour of a manufacturing line capable of filling up to 800 cans of coffee per minute, and live observation of quality control inspector at work via a monitor. Everything is in Japanese only. Note that photography (including video) is not permitted during the tour. Pets, baby strollers (can be stored), and wheelchairs are also not allowed due to stairs. The factory is a 15-min. walk from Echigawa Station on the Ohmi Railways. Or 15 min. by taxi from JR Notogawa Station. Map
- May 4 - Misaki Shrine Fire Festival 御崎神社の火まつり has the local people carrying 2-meter long torches from their homes to the shrine. A taiko drum is also carried and beaten. The shrine has a 5-meter tall pile of bamboo which is lit to make a towering inferno within the shrine grounds. Very dramatic. Map
- July-Aug. - Aisho Summer Festival and fireworks.
- Late Aug. - Nakasendo Shukuba Festival in Echigawa 中山道宿場まつりinえちがわ is an evening festival with candlelight illumination along the old Nakasendo Road, stage entertainment, food stalls, etc.
- Late Oct. - Echigawa-juku 66 Festival 愛知川宿66番祭 features stage entertainment, flea market, and more.
- Nov. - Autumn leaves at Kongorinji temple - Shuttle buses run during the foliage period to this and two other temples.
- The Echigawa Station building is also a nice community house providing tourist information, a gallery (Gallery Louvre Echigawa) るーぶる愛知川, and gift shop.
- During autumn in Nov. when the leaves are colorful, a convenient shuttle bus from the Hikone Station can take you to the three Koto Sanzan temples which includes Kongorinji temple.
Aisho has only one train station, Echigawa Station on the Ohmi Railways Main Line. However, Inae Station on the JR Biwako Line and Toyosato Station on the Ohmi Railways Main Line are near the fringe of the town.
Train Lines & Stations
- From Tokyo Station to Echigawa Station: JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara Station (2.5 hours), then transfer to Ohmi Railways for Echigawa Station (31 min.).
- From Maibara Station to Echigawa Station: 31 min. via Ohmi Railways
- From Yokaichi Station to Echigawa Station: 11 min. via Ohmi Railways
- From Kibukawa Station to Echigawa Station: 45-65 min. via Ohmi Railways
- Buses run from Toyosato Station, Inae Station, and Notogawa Station.
Train stations in Aisho and their places of interest are as follows:
- Echigawa Station - Bin Temari no Yakata Museum, Omi Jofu Dento Sangyo Kaikan, Nakasendo Shukubamachi, UCC Shiga Factory
- From JR Inae Station and Echigawa Station, buses leave for Kongorinji Temple. Buses run infrequently and only on weekdays.
- There is a rental bicycle shop in front of Echigawa Station. Ask at the tourist info counter in the Echigawa Station building.
Click on the video image to start playing the Misaki Shrine Fire Festival video. More Shiga videos here.
Other sights in neighboring cities/towns within easy reach from Aisho.
- Koto Sanzan temples - Three noted temples with National Treasure or Important Cultural Property buildings. Besides Kongorinji, they are Saimyoji and Hyakusaiji in Higashi-Omi. Beautiful especially in autumn when a shuttle bus links all three temples.
- 2006 - On Feb. 13, Echigawa and Hatasho towns merge to form Aisho town.
- On UCC canned coffee with a screw-on cap, you may see imprinted on the neck the expiration date and “SGF” which indicates “Shiga Factory.” It means it was made in Shiga.
- Tsutsumi Yasujiro (1889-1964) 堤康次郎
- Native of the former town of Hatasho-cho, and founder of the Hakone Tochi Co., the forerunner of Kokudo Co. which operates the Seibu Group including Seibu Railways and other companies. The company also operates the Ohmi Railways and bus lines in Shiga. One son is Tsutsumi Yoshiaki, the disgraced president of Kokudo born to a mistress.
- Shiga Prefecture
- Shiga Prefecture Sights
- Shiga Prefecture Transportation
- Shiga Prefecture Municipalities
- Aisho Town Hall
- Aisho News - In English
- Kongorinji temple
- shiga-ken.com - Comprehensive guide to Shiga Prefecture.
|Municipalities of Shiga Prefecture 滋賀県|
|Cities & Towns: Aisho-cho | Higashi-Omi | Hikone | Hino-cho | Koka | Konan | Kora-cho | Kusatsu | Maibara | Moriyama | Nagahama | Omi-Hachiman | Otsu | Ritto | Ryuo-cho | Taga-cho | Takashima | Toyosato-cho | Yasu|
|愛荘町 | 東近江市 | 彦根市 | 日野町 | 甲賀市 | 湖南市 | 甲良町 | 草津市 | 米原市 | 守山市 | 長浜市 | 近江八幡市 | 大津市 | 栗東市 | 竜王町 | 多賀町 | 高島市 | 豊郷町 | 野洲市|
|Prefectures of Japan|
|Aichi | Akita | Aomori | Chiba | Ehime | Fukui | Fukuoka | Fukushima | Gifu | Gunma | Hiroshima | Hokkaido | Hyogo | Ibaraki | Ishikawa | Iwate | Kagawa | Kagoshima | Kanagawa | Kochi | Kumamoto | Kyoto | Mie | Miyagi | Miyazaki | Nagano | Nagasaki | Nara | Niigata | Oita | Okayama | Okinawa | Osaka | Saga | Saitama | Shiga | Shimane | Shizuoka | Tochigi | Tokushima | Tokyo | Tottori | Toyama | Wakayama | Yamagata | Yamaguchi | Yamanashi|