Shiga, Japan : Ken Furusawa

My family moved to Otsu City in Shiga in my early childhood, and I spent almost 15 years there until I graduated from my high school. When I say I’m from Shiga, people usually say that there is “only Lake Biwa” there or it’s “neighboring Kyoto”. These stereotypes are actually true to a good extent, but I hope more and more people will be aware of how attractive and beautiful Shiga and Otsu are. Simply speaking, Shiga is a wonderful place to live in. Lake Bawa is located in the center of Shiga and is surrounded by the mountain ranges. Shiga has rich nature and beautiful landscapes. The climate in Shiga is very stable and comfortable because it is not facing ocean and has a large lake. Shiga is very less susceptible to natural disasters as well. One of the Shiga’s strength is its location and the good access to big cities and different regions. The main highway between Tokyo and Osaka goes through Shiga as well as the bullet train line. People can go to Kyoto in 15 minutes and Osaka in 45 minutes from Otsu with JR line, which enables people to commute all the way there everyday. Thanks these factors, people are moving into Shiga like my family, resulting in the steady population increase past 10 years in Otsu. Every time when I go back to my hometown, I see new houses around the station and schools, and families with kids and babies. It is Shiga’s great feature that the harmony of traditional city views with advancing urbanization is balanced and maintained.

People coming to Shiga can enjoy water sports and the fireworks festival in summer while they come to Shiga for hot spring and skiing in winter. There are some important cultural heritage sites as well such as Hieizann Enryaku-ji (monastery of Tendai religion) and Hikone Catsle (one of the five castles listed as a national treasure). This is a significant aspect of Shiga too.