Results tagged “trip”

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Olá pessoal! Aqui é a Natália, brasileira que mora em Hikone e eu quero escrever um pouco sobre minha experiência no "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai" em Otsu, Shiga. Para quem não sabe, o verão no Japão é conhecido como a época dos festivais ("matsuri"), no qual as pessoas saem de casa com a família e amigos para se distrair e esquecer um pouco o calor. Uma das tradições desse período é assistir os famosos festivais de fogos de artifícios ("hanabi taikai") que acontecem em toda parte durante o mês de agosto.

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No dia 8 de agosto de 2017, eu fui pela primeira vez ao "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai", que acontece no porto da cidade de Otsu, capital da província de Shiga. O "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai" é o maior festival de fogos de artifício da região de Shiga e aproximadamente 350 mil fogos são liberados durante o evento, colorindo o céu de Otsu de maneira sem igual.

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Como eu moro em Hikone, na região norte de Shiga, saí do serviço e peguei um trem até a estação JR Otsu. De lá, encontrei com a minha amiga Emily que trabalha na cidade e decidimos jantar em algum lugar, já que tinhamos um tempinho até o início do evento.

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Saímos pela saída norte ("kita guchi") da estação e seguimos o fluxo das pessoas que estavam indo para o evento. Logo de cara acabamos achando a placa do "Saigo ni Katsu", um restaurante especializado em pratos com carne, à 3 minutos à pé da estação de Otsu.

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O restaurante ficava no fundo de um corredor, então percorremos o corredor e entramos no local. Apesar de pequeno, o restaurante era bastante confortável e lembrava bares antigos japoneses que a gente vê na televisão.

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Depois de ficar uns bons minutos em dúvida sobre o que pedir, eu optei por um "tonteki", um filé de carne de porco com molho especial. Além do filé de 200 gramas, o prato veio com salada, arroz à vontade e sopa. O mais impressionante foi o preço, apenas 900 ienes por tudo.

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A Emily optou pelo "bifuteki", praticamente o mesmo prato que o meu, com a diferença que o filé era feito de carne de vaca. Além das opções de carne de 200 gramas, havia a opção de pedir a carne com 400 gramas.

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O menu também tinha outras opções muito interessantes, como curry especial da casa ("kare"), filé de carne servido sobre o arroz branco ("suteki don") e filé com molho demi glace ("bifu demi"). Definitivamente vou precisar voltar mais vezes para experimentar os outros pratos.

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Obviamente, eu e a Emily ficamos muito felizes com o nossos pratos. (^_^) Depois da janta, saímos e continuamos nosso caminho até o festival de fogos de artifício.

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Para chegar no "Biwako Dai Hanabi Matsuri", basta sair da estação JR Otsu pela saída norte ("kita guchi") e seguir o fluxo de pessoas. Há muitas policiais e staffs orientando até o local, então não há como errar. O local do evento é aproximadamente 10 mins a pé da estação de Otsu, então foi bastante tranquilo para chegar.

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Uma dica para chegar no local do evento é seguir as pessoas que estão vestidas de yukata. Muitos casais de namorados aproveitam para assistir os fogos de artifício juntos. (^_^)

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Como o evento é o maior da região de Shiga, há diversos locais para assistir os fogos de artifício. O evento em si é gratuito, mas aqueles que quiserem ver os fogos em um lugar privilegiado e com direito à assento, podem adquirir um ingresso especial, que pode ser comprado antecipadamente ou no dia mesmo.

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O evento começou às 19h30m, com um show de fogos impressionante. Durante o festival, os fogos foram divididos por tema, então havia fogos de diferentes cores e formatos para admirar. Muitas pessoas aproveitaram para tirar fotos e vídeos do céu.

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Além dos fogos tradicionais, havia fogos temáticos com formatos de objetos, planetas e bichinhos. A cor e quantidade de fogos também era impressionante, deixando o céu de Otsu com um aspecto multi-colorido.

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Às 20h30m, o evento chegou ao fim, com outra chuva de fogos. Ficamos tão entretidas pelos fogos de artifício que nem sequer vimos o tempo passar. Para aqueles querem experimentar um festival de fogos de artifício tradicional do Japão, eu definitivamente recomendo ir ao "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai" de Otsu!


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PARA ASSISTIR O "BIWAKO DAI HANABI TAIKAI"

Aqueles que desejam adquirir os ingressos especiais para assistir os fogos de artifício do "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai" podem conferir a página oficial do evento. A página é atualizada todo ano no mês de julho e os ingressos são vendidos a partir dessa data. A página oficial do evento é https://www.biwako-visitors.jp/hanabi/

Você poderá adquirir os ingressos reservados de diversos sites de compra online. Basta seguir as instruções de cada site para efetuar sua compra. Para aqueles que querem ver os fogos de artifício bem de pertinho e com conforto, é uma excelente ideia comprar o ingresso especial. Lembrando que o evento em si é gratuito, então mesmo aqueles que não tem ingresso podem ir até o local e assistir os fogos de um dos locais não reservados. (^_^)

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COMO CHEGAR NO "BIWAKO DAI HANABI TAIKAI"

Para chegar no local do "Biwako Dai Hanabi Taikai" de trem você deverá descer na estação JR Otsu ou JR Zeze e caminhar até o local do evento. Também é possível descer na estação Hamaotsu da linha Keihan e caminhar até o local. Os arredores do evento costumam ficar bem cheio de pessoas, por isso é recomendável chegar o mais cedo possível antes do início dos fogos! Não deixem de perder a oportunidade de assistir o maior festival de fogos de artifício da região de Shiga!

Great Lake Biwa Fireworks Display 2017

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August 8th is the day of the Great Lake Biwa Fireworks Display!

This year I went with the Hikone City CIR Natalia at Otsu Port right on the lake.

Natalia and I met up at Otsu Station and headed down Suehirocho road, the street to the far left of Otsu station near 7 Eleven.

Even though we met up hours before the start of the show, the streets were already crowded with people on their way to finding a good spot to watch from.

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We walked for less than two minutes before we arrived at the restaurant we had decided to go to for dinner. It was called Saigo ni Katsu Part 2 (yes there is a part one.)

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We ordered a pork and beef steak respectively, and it came with plenty of shredded cabbage, rice, and soup.

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The beef steak that I ordered was very tender and juicy and was absolutely wonderful.

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Natalia and I about to dig into our feast. We ordered the normal size portions, but we were very full by the end of our meal.

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The Restaurant was located down a small pathway off from the main road, marked by the big sign with the Chinese character for "MEAT." My kind of restaurant right there.

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After eating, we headed down toward the lake so we could find our seats. The streets were full of people in colorful yukata looking forward to seeing a really spectacular fireworks show. Once we found our seats, we got our cameras ready and waited for the show to begin!

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We didn't have to wait long before the show began. Here are some of the pictures I got!

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The fireworks this year were full of spectacular displays of reds, greens, and golds.

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Although it was a bit challenging to catch the brief moments when the fireworks were at their peak, here are some of the best shots I got! If you have not yet had the opportunity to go to see this particular firework show over Lake Biwa, I highly recommend that you do!


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For those interested in getting the seats we got!

Paid-entry seating tickets go on sale every year at the beginning of July. Please see this website for more info.  https://www.biwako-visitors.jp/hanabi/
Tickets are sold both online and at tourism centers.
Paid-entry tickets have assigned seats and are right up close to the fireworks for a great view!

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There is of course also free-seating areas where everyone can view the fireworks from. You can access these areas by either JR Otsu or Zeze Station, or by getting off at Hamaotsu via the Keihan Line. My one piece of advice here would be to allow plenty of time to find a seat though as this area is always very crowded, but I definitely recommend that you come and see these fireworks for yourself!

Biwako Valley, Kaizu's Cherry Blossoms

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One pleasant morning in April, we found ourselves at Biwako Valley, a mountain resort in western Shiga.Biwako Valley is more well-known for its Winter Season ski slopes, but this time we visited at the start of their Green Season. The base of the resort is also famous for its cherry blossoms.

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Biwako Valley is on the summit of a mountain, so to reach it we rode the Biwako Valley ropeway. Here we got our first glimpse of Lake Biwa and the surrounding countryside.

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Mrs. Tarao was kind enough to give us a tour of the facilities. The snow was still melting, so not all of the Green Season attractions were up and running. Later in the spring and summer, Biwako Valley offers zip-lining, a ropes course, and a space for kids called "Summer Land."

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One of the newer areas at Biwako Valley is The Biwako Terrace, a cozy café with a beautiful deck overlooking the lake.

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The Biwako Terrace had a nice homey atmosphere and huge windows, so even on cold days customers can enjoy the view. There is also a separate room for groups to rent out.

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The day we visited was pretty foggy, but on a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Ibuki and the Suzuka Mountains - literally the other side of Shiga Prefecture.

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Maybe it was just us being constantly hungry, but the first thing we noticed upon entering The Biwako Terrace was a display of delicious-looking gelato. Flavors ranged from local tea and fruits to the ever-popular cookies 'n' cream (referred to here as "biscuit").

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We chose the three local flavors: Adoberry, a berry-bearing bramble from Takashima (say that three times fast), and Omi Wa Koucha and Omi Genmaicha, two different kinds of tea grown in Shiga.

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The unanimous favorite was Adoberry. Omi Wa Koucha (black tea) was subtle and fragrant, with just the right amount of sweetness. The Omi Genmaicha was, as Roddie put it, "not for beginners." At first glance, it looks like matcha, but its flavor is distinctly that of Genmaicha, a type of green tea combined with roasted brown rice.

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The multi-level decks outside the café are lined with blue reflecting pools, which complement the colors of the sky and lake.

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There's another lookout point beyond the deck called "Lover's Sanctuary." It is shaped like - surprise! - a heart.

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Speaking of love, here's something we all love: buffets. Since we couldn't decide what to eat, we ended up getting a little bit of everything, from tempura to local red konyaku.

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They also had a good variety of Japanese-style sweets, fruits, and yogurt for dessert.

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Near the ropeway station at the base of the mountain there was a small marche with stalls from all over Kansai selling malasadas (Hawaiian donuts), bagels, and more classic festival food, like yaki imo (baked sweet potatoes).

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Next, we took the scenic train up to Makino, a town in northern Takashima City. Across the station was a small place to rent bicycles.

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From the station, it was only about a five minute ride to Makino Sunny Beach. The day had cleared up, and the crystal clear water made for some gorgeous photographs.

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After another ten or fifteen minutes of cycling, we stopped to take some more pictures. From this one, you can see the cherry blossoms that line Kaizu Osaki Peninsula, our next destination. There were also lots of ducks and a few black kites soaring overhead.

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We finally made it to Kaizu-Osaki Peninsula, which is part of the Biwako Quasi-National Park. It is said to be famous for its 600 Yoshino cherry trees, and it was no lie. There was a great number of families and couples picnicking and wandering among the trees.

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There are a couple docks along the peninsula where you can join boat tours to enjoy views of the cherry blossoms from the lake.

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The landscape of northern Shiga is completely different from the cityscapes of Otsu. In this picture, you can see how sparkly the water was on that sunny day.

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Even for people who like to be present and savor the moment, it's impossible to resist taking pictures (and the results are well worth it!).

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A few stores along the way to the peninsula were selling locally-made sweets. We felt it fitting to have some sakura-mochi (sweet pounded rice wrapped in pickled cherry blossom leaves).

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We took a few more pictures before getting back on the bikes.

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This is a humble example of the kind of photos you can take. The contrast of the delicate cherry blossoms and the lichen-covered bark is especially striking.

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The unique part of Kaizu-Osaki Peninsula is that the journey itself is beautiful. Instead of visiting different attractions and then getting back into a car or onto a bus, here you find yourself surrounded by pink blossoms and sparkling blue water. It was an easy twenty-minute ride to Osaki Temple, and we loved every minute of it.

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Here we are at Osaki Temple. It's actually partway up the mountainside, so you can't see it in the picture, but there's a beautiful view here as well.

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This is a person from the temple signing Maddie's shuincho, a book for collection of shrine and temple seals.

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After getting all spiritual, we stopped by a little shop and bought some tempura made with ayu, a small fish endemic to Lake Biwa. The shop was also selling funazushi, among other things.

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This photo was taken mere minutes before our photographer was drenched by a rather large wave. Fortunately, the two of us and our food got away unscathed.

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A close-up shot of the deep-fried goodness: ayu tempura.

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It was an idyllic spring day by the lake, and we hope to come back again next year.

Trip by Ohmi railway

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On March 25, We got up bright and early for a day of sightseeing along the Ohmi Railway!

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The experience was very different from that of the JR lines we're used to taking, but it gave me the feeling of going back in time.

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The sites were also really pretty along the way with spring just beginning.

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We got off at our first stop in Minakuchi, and headed to the Kafuka Ichigo Orchard for all-you-can-eat strawberry picking.

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For 45 minutes, Michaela and I were allowed to eat as many strawberries as we could,and we definitely tried to make the most out of it!

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The strawberries were really juicy; it was sometimes hard to pick the best ones to eat because they all looked so good!

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I think that strawberry picking at Rokushin would especially be a great activity for families; it was so fun.

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Next, we took the Ohmi Railway to Higashiomi,

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and stopped to visit the house of Hikoshiro Fujii, who was a prominent yarn merchant, with a home that used an interesting mix of European and Japanese inspired architecture and decoration.

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My favourite part was the garden in the back; it seemed so effortlessly beautiful, and though you could see traffic from afar, it was so peaceful and quiet.

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Afterwards, we took a short walk around the neighborhood, until we reached Menmen Tanaka, which was a restaurant that served soba and udon noodles. Both meals were delicious!

I got the soba with a vegetable tempura, and Michaela got udon, which was served with a side of sweet beans and sakura shrimp from Lake Biwa. It's called ebimame, which we were told was a famous food in the Bikwako area.

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When we finished out meal, we hopped back on the Ohmi Railway for one more stop before heading home; Toyosato Elementary School.

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Our destination was a bit of a walk from the train station, but it was well worth it! Toyosato Elementary School was recently made famous by the japanese anime K-On!,

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but it was designed by William Merrell Vories, who was a prominent architect in Shiga during the first half of the 20th century.

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It was really interesting to see the interior of the school building; there's so much attention given to detail, and our tour guide was really wonderful about pointing everything out.

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My favourite thing about the school was the main staircases, which had small bronze turtles and rabbits along the railing, meant to symbolize the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.

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After finishing the tour it was finally time to say goodbye, so Michaela and I headed back home from a long day out, tired but happy!

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Being able to experience so many things in Shiga was really fun, and I'm so grateful that we were able to take part in such a fun day. Shiga is a wonderful prefecture with a lot of history and beauty; my hope is that many more people get to learn about what makes this region of Japan special!

We Love SHIGA BIWAKO

[Facebook]We Love Shiga Biwako

Boat Race Biwako

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We have been to the Biwako Boat Racing Arena once before, but the weather was not that great at the time.

On this day, however, we had beautiful weather, albeit a bit windy,

so we could properly enjoy not only the races, but also the gorgeous scenery.

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This is the arena as seen from Lake Biwa's side.

I gotta say it looks way better from here, with nice glass windows.

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Here's another photo of the scenery.

Something you might find interesting is that you can actually watch the Lake Biwa summer fireworks display from here.

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The second floor is general seating, and there is no smoking allowed (you can smoke on the first floor). It has a nice view...

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... and a lot of vendors. You can find snacks, beer, coffee, boiled eggs (?) and more.

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The third floor is reserved seating, which costs a little bit more, but has nicer seats and a better view.

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Here we are enjoying the view. In the distance, you can see Mt. Mikami, also known as Omi Fuji.

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There's a small computer where you can check the odds from your seat.

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From the window we actually had the chance to see Umi no Ko, the floating school.

Fifth graders all around Shiga take an overnight field trip on this boat to learn about Lake Biwa.

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We also saw the Michigan boat, which runs daily cruises around the lake.

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Maddie poses with the Boat Race Bible...

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...a thorough guide to the boat races.

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If you are not Japanese-savvy, there's also an English pamphlet that gives you the basics.

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To the left you can see one of many leaflets filled with statistics on the day's races. It includes info on the riders, engines etc.

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Here's a close-up of the betting card. There are many options and you can bet from 100 to 500,000 yen.

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Since the second floor has no computers for you to check, you might as well use one of the huge displays that show the odds and other valuable info for betters.

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There are automated betting machines so you don't have to interact with a human being.

Especially good if you are worried about your poor Japanese skills.

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I bet 100 yen and won about 1 million dollars, baby! Just kidding. I lost.

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One interesting aspect of boat races in Japan is that they happen simultaneously all around the country.

While you are waiting for your race to start, you can watch (and bet on) races happening in other arenas, such Kyushu and Okinawa.

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This giant clock is used to time the start of each race. (It's also a pokestop.)

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This is what a start looks like. Go number 1!

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Once the boats get near to the corner, they have to slow down to make the turn.

This is a decisive moment because if they pull it off right, they can get a big lead.

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Heading for the finish line! Come on, number 1!

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And we have a winner! IT'S... number 6... sadly...

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Did you win? Did you lose? Beer makes everything better.

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If you feel the need for something more substantial than a snack you can check the small cafeteria.

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Here's the curry we had. It has a nice assortment of toppings.

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These are the boat race girls. They look like Power Rangers and are in a lot of posters all around the place.

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This is a behind the scenes shot: Special thanks to these guys from Biwako Boat Racing for hosting us and showing us how to bet!

Harie Fresh Water Village & Hakodateyama Lily Park

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I had the amazing opportunity to visit some great places around Shiga Prefecture

with staff members from the Shiga Visters Bureau this weekend.

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In the morning we visited the Hattie Fresh Water Village in Takashima village.

The village is a place with history and beauty.

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I was able to see the community around the clean water and even got to taste some of the water myself.

If you have the opportunity to tour the village, I would highly recommend it.

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It tasted great and the water was gorgeous.

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And the natives of the village live with technology of the past and future.

They use the fresh water for drinking and watering plants and even washing their food.

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They're able to use the water in tandem with modern day technology to create a really interesting, unique lifestyle.

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And in this village also exists a temple and various old sculptures and buildings.

If you go, make sure you try some of the water for yourself because it's delicious!

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Afterwards I was able to eat an amazing lunch at Kawashin. 

If you're feeling adventurous, try an amazing lunch at Kawashin!

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We had fresh water fish from Lake Biwako and it was truly something else.

I don't think I'll eat a meal that good for a long time!

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Lastly we visited Hakodateyama Lily Park and Kokia Park!

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The Gondola ride up Hakodate Mountain was scary but definitely worth it!

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The view was amazing and I even got to drive some dune buggies!