Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum
Located in Takashima, Imazu-cho, Shiga Prefecture, the Lake Biwa Rowing Song Museum (Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan 琵琶湖周航の歌資料館) spotlights Shiga Prefecture's most famous song, Biwako Shuko no Uta. Opened in April 1998 in its own two-story building near Imazu Port, the museum later moved on April 1, 2020 to a new location in the Imazu-Higashi Community Center across from the Imazu Shimin Kaikan concert hall. The museum occupies a large corner of the building's 1st floor.
The museum is a 3-min. walk from Omi-Imazu Station (East Exit) on the JR Kosei Line 湖西線 running along the western shore of Lake Biwa. It has exhibits and display panels explaining about the song and the composer Oguchi Taro and Yoshida Chiaki. There is also a listening corner where you can listen to numerous cover versions of the song sung by famous singers such as Peggy Hayama, Miyako Harumi, and Kobayashi Akira. Nini Rosso even recorded a trumpet version.
First composed in 1917 by a bunch of college students from Kyoto, 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 boating club at an elite college in Kyoto which later merged with Kyoto University. Not to be confused with a similar song called Biwako Aika created in 1941 in memory of the boys from Kanazawa who died in a rowing accident on Lake Biwa.
The song mentions many famous places in Shiga. See Lake Biwa Rowing Song.
The old museum operating from April 1998 to late March 2020 was right on the road to Imazu Port. Tourists could easily drop by on the way to or from Imazu Port (Lake Biwa cruises to Chikubushima or chery blossom cruises to Kaizu-Osaki). During this time, the museum was staffed by the local tourist association and also had a gift shop selling local souvenirs and merchandise and CDs related to Biwako Shuko no Uta. The 2nd floor had an exhibition room and meeting room. The old museum also occasionally held mini concerts. Although the old museum was at a prime location, the building was deemed to be too old and needing expensive repairs.
The new museum is more like a exhibition section on the first floor of the local community center. It retains many of the exhibits from the old museum. However, there is no gift shop. Also, since it is not on the main road between the train station and Imazu Port, few tourists notice the new museum. Foot traffic has decreased. Photos of the old museum here.
- Address: Imazu-Higashi Community Center, Nakanuma 1-4-1, Imazu-cho, Takashima-shi, Shiga-ken 520-1622
- Address in Japanese: 〒520-1622滋賀県高島市今津町中沼1-4-1（今津東コミュニティセンター1F）
- Phone: 0740-22-2108
- Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Mon. (open if Mon. is a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead)
- Admission: Free
- Getting there: By train, take the JR Kosei Line and get off at Omi-Imazu Station. Ride the Kosei Line from Kyoto Station or from Yamashina Station on the Biwako/Tokaido Line. Allow about 1 hour from Kyoto or Yamashina.