The Seibu Department Store’s Otsu Branch was closed down.

On August 31, the Seibu Department Store’s Otsu Branch was closed down, bringing the end to its history of 44 years. On the last day, approximately 25 thousand customers, 2.5 times more than that of the same day in the previous year, visited the store. Still, Seibu organized no ceremony because of the COVID-19 concerns.

Matsuo Nobuyo, a 52-year-old housewife, was one of the customers who went to the store. She had visited the Otsu Branch numerous times since the opening. One of her most memorable moments was her Coming-Of-Age Day. Together with her three friends, she dined at a French restaurant in the store. Not accustomed to wearing long-sleeved kimono, they struggled to use knives and forks, but a waiter gave them some pointers, making her experience memorable. She still remembers her joy and gratitude.

Ms. Matsuo became a regular customer, always buying refined gifts at Seibu wherever the needs arose. She says, “the Otsu Branch has been somewhere better than the others I would like to visit at turning points in my life. It’s a pity that Seibu closed.”

(Asahi Shimbun, September 1, 2020)



The number of tourists who stay at Shiga's hotels has decreased

The number of tourists who stay at accommodations in Shiga, steadily increasing in the recent years and having reached its peak in 2015, has started decreasing since 2016. The first quarter of this year's figure has dropped by 12% compared to the previous year’s first quarter, showing that the decline has become apparent. Accommodations in Shiga have attracted tourists, taking advantage of the situation that their competitors in Kyoto and Osaka have been unable to handle the influx of tourists. The hotels in Kyoto and Osaka, however, have expanded their capacities, making the tourism industry in Shiga feel a sense of crisis under the current trend.


According to a survey by Japan Tourism Agency, the number of tourists who stayed at accommodations in Shiga in 2016 is 4.68 million, having decreased by 13% compared with the previous year’s 5.39 million. Confined to international tourists, 2016’s figure is 470 thousand while 2015’s is 480 thousand.


"Shiga’s hotels were selected by tourists who couldn’t find in Kyoto or Osaka, but the situation regarding the two prefectures is being improved. It is safe to assume that the Shiga’s figure has dropped because of that,” says an official of Tourism and International Exchange Bureau, unveiling its plan to conduct a series of events in October featuring the prefecture’s Japan Heritage sites.


(Kyoto Shimbun, June 23, 2017)



JETRO is to open a new domestic branch office in Hikone in July

JETRO, or the Japan External Trade Organization, has unveiled that it is going to open a domestic branch office in Hikone, Shiga, in July. The Shiga Prefectural Government was officially notified of the plan on March 2.

With four staff members stationed at, the new office, which is called the JETRO Shiga Trade Information Center, will start its activities in a building where the Hikone Chamber of Commerce and Industry is located.

The new office is JETRO's 44th domestic branch office.

(The Nikkei, March 3, 2017)



Shiga became a member of Water and Environment Solution Hub

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) announced on March 31 that it had been registered as a member of the Water and Environment Solution Hub (WES Hub), a nationwide alliance which consists of local governments to internationally promote Japan's technologies and policies regarding environmental or water supply infrastructure throughout the world.

WES Hub was established by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in April 2012, and local governments which have made pioneering effort to export their sewage systems have joined the alliance.

With Omi Environment Plaza being as a center for research and development, SPG is to promote their water and environmental technologies overseas and to help Shiga-based corporations dig into international markets in cooperation with the Shiga Aquatic Environmental Business Promotion Forum.

(My Navi News, April 10, 2014)



A Shiga-based stationary manufacturer to start accepting factory tours

Kokuyo Product Shiga Co., Ltd., a stationary manufacturer known for producing the Campus notebook, a nationwide bestseller brand, announced that it will start accepting tours at its factory in Aisho Town. Although the Shiga-based company has been accepting tours only for their clients and school officials, this is the first time that the company is to arrange factory tours for the public. "Children use notebooks on a regular basis, and we hope that many children and their parents will visit us," says a company representative.

The 90-minute factory tour, which begins at 10:00 am, is to be organized twice a month. The visitors are to watch a motion video describing the manufacturing facilities with the area of 14,000 square kilometers and what the factory workers want to accomplish with their products. They then are to go through the production site, closely observing rolls of paper being installed in machines one after another, and notebooks being lined up automatically. In addition, the company is planning to offer a mock inspection session to spot detective products.

The Campus notebook brand is one of the major products of Kokuyo Group, headquartered in Osaka. Since its launch in 1975, the Group had sold 2.6 billion notebooks until August 2013. Kokuyo Product Shiga, a member of the Group, produces almost all of the notebooks of Kokuyo Group.

There will be two tours organized in May 27 and 29, with each accepting up to 25 participants. The admission is 100 yen for citizens including children over junior high school age and free for children below elementary school age. The admission fee collected is going to be used for environmental conservation activities.

(Sankei Shimbun, April 11, 2014)



Shiga's tourism industry sees huge potential in Muslim tourists

A seminar on how to show hospitality to Muslim tourists from the ASEAN countries was held at Piazza Omi in Otsu for the first time in Shiga Prefecture, providing tips on religious practices including food and worship which should be considered.

There were 39 participants from local hotels, restaurants, and tourism-related companies. During the seminar, they did some tasting of a lunch box made for Muslims who are prohibited from eating pork and were informed that Muslims pray their daily prayers five times a day.

The seminar was organized by the Biwako Visitors Bureau, a prefecture-level tourism association, in response to the new policy adopted by the Japanese government in July 2013 to ease visa requirements for the ASEAN countries where Muslims constitute one of the major religious communities.

(Chunichi Shimbun, February 27, 2014)



The naming rights of a prefecture-owned park to be purchased by a Nissan dealer

The naming rights of Kenmin-no-Mori (citizens' forest), a prefecture-owned park in Ritto, has been purchased by Shiga Nissan Automobile, an Otsu-based Nissan dealer. The park will be renamed "Shiga Nissan Leaf's Forest," which is the first case of the naming rights purchased by a private corporation. Shiga Prefectural Government has been looking for companies eager to purchase naming rights of 23 prefecture-owned facilities, with their asking prices ranging from 0.1 million to 10 million yen per year respectively.

Naming rights are a financial transaction and form of advertising whereby a corporation or other entity purchase the right to name a public facility. This type of naming rights can be largely seen among sports facilities such as Ajinomoto Stadium and Kyocera Dome Osaka.

According to Shiga Nissan Automobile, Kenmin-no-Mori, a forest park covering an area of 14.4 hectares, matches the image of Leaf which is an environmental-friendly electronic vehicle manufactured by Nissan. The company will pay 0.6 million yen annually by the end of March, 2019.

"This name completely matches Kenmin-no-Mori," said Governor Kada at the signing ceremony held at Governor's Residence on February 13. "We hope that this will help establish the brand of Nissan as environment-conscious corporation, and will improve the image of Leaf which doesn't emit carbon dioxide," said Nobuo Oe, president of the company.

(Sankei Shimbun, February 14, 2014)



Shiga Prefecture to track foreign capital purchasing forests in water resource areas

As concerns over foreign capital purchasing forests in water source areas are spreading through the nation, Shiga is to be the first prefecture in the Kinki region to introduce a prior notification system to track purchase and sale of forests. Although the new system doesn't give the Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) the power to ban the purchase and sale, it will enable SPG to get a grip on the situation and to restrain questionable land acquisition and disorderly deforestation.

The existing national laws such as National Land Utilization Law and Forest Law require purchasers to report to local municipalities after they acquire forests. However, there is no system to comprehend the situation beforehand.

The new notification system is designed to specify which forests need to be preserved, and to require the owners to notify SPG before they sell their property, making it possible for both the prefecture and local municipalities to share information about sellers, buyers, size of land, and the objectives.

SPG plans to spend one year to examine details such as possibilities of introducing penal regulations to the system as well as referring to other eleven prefectures which have introduced similar systems. The new system is expected to go into effect in FY 2015.

According to Forestry Agency, there are 68 cases of foreign corporations or individuals who purchased forests in 8 prefectures from 2006 to 2012, including the one that a China-based company purchased 81 hectares in Hokkaido. The total area is 801 hectares, but purposes of utilization were unclear in some cases. No case has been reported in Shiga so far.

(Kyoto Shimbun, November 15, 2013)



A Chinese organization canceled its participation in Enviro-Shiga 2012

It was unveiled that the Hunan Chamber of Commerse and Industry, a Chinese organization that has friendship relations with the Shiga Economic and Industrial Association, canceled its participation in the upcoming Enviro-Shiga 2012, an exhibition held in Nagahama from October 24 to 26.   

The Association was notified of cancellation on September 13. Some sources say the decision was triggered by the recent dispute over Senkaku islands between the two nations.

The Chamber was supposed to exhibit economic situations in Hunan Province and to display local manufacturers' products and technologies.

According to the organizer, unlike the China's case, 12 Korean corporations are to take part in the exhibition as planned.

(Chunichi Shimbun, September 26, 2012)



Yasu City to attract a photovoltaic power station to the shore of Lake Biwa

Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, is planning to utilize idle land of 24 thousand square meters on the shore of Lake Biwa by attracting a photovoltaic power station, also known as Mega-Solar, some sources say. The city office will invite tenders for a bidding shortly, and will determine a contractor possibly in October if things go well.

According to the sources, the land will be lent at 125 yen per 1 square meter for 20 years. The city office estimates that it will gain approximately 85 million yen through the rent and municipal property tax, and that it will be able to reduce the cost of removing weeds by about 30 million yen during the contract term. If the project goes well, the city believes it will get more profit.

"We aim at creating renewable energy by attracting the first photovoltaic power station at Lake Biwa, which matches an image of the clean lake," says Mayor Yoshiaki Yamanaka.

(Tokyo Shimbun, September 17, 2012)