Ecotourism campaign spotlights Shiga area


MAIHARA, Shiga Pref — In an effort to draw more visitors to this area, the Shiga Prefectural Government is running a one-month ecotourism campaign.

A visitor to the “eco-festa” exhibition near JR Maibara Station plays “kapla,” using small wood tips to create a minature castle.

As part of the 23-day campaign, which ends Oct. 28, the prefectural government is running a variety of nature tours and hosting an exhibition promoting ecotourism and the area’s natural resources.

The various projects, launched to raise public awareness of environmental issues and protect the natural resources in the prefecture, have been put together by the Shiga 21st Century Memorial Project.

At the exhibition site, located near JR Maibara Station, visitors will be able to view videos and panel displays that promote ecotourism efforts at home and overseas as well as try their hand at grain threshing.

“The exhibition site provides visitors with a lot of information on ecotourism both in Japan and abroad,” said Yoshio Satake, a public relations official for the Shiga 21st Century Memorial Project. “We also offer tours in which participants can appreciate the prefecture’s natural beauty.”

Visitors shop for glassware at a store in the city of Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture.

A variety of one-day bus tours from the exhibition site give participants a chance to take a hike up Mount Ibuki, visit a trout farm in Samegai, watch water fowl around Lake Biwa or visit the city of Nagahama, which was ordered created by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century.

Nagahama is known for its “kurokabe,” or black plastered wall, which was part of the Dai Hyakusanju Bank, built in 1900.

It has been preserved thanks to action by local residents, who are also responsible for promoting the area’s glassware industry.

The city is also famous for its traditional Hikiyama festival, which every year attracts about 4.6 million tourists.

Samegai, another of the tour destinations, flourished as a rest stop along a major road during the Edo Period. Traditional houses and shops from that time still stand in the town, which is a 30-minute bus ride from JR Maibara Station.

Samegai also boasts the Shiga Prefectural Samegai Trout Farm, established in 1878 as a research center for farming trout in Lake Biwa. The farm offers visitors a chance to go fishing as well as sample its trout-based dishes.

Most tours require advance booking, but there are some tours that visitors can join at the site without prior reservations.