Summer is here and the sun is shining. It is officially time to get outside and enjoy ourselves. Barbeques, picnics, camping, hiking, going to the beach, and so much more. In this season school children have summer vacation, workers get Obon holiday, everyone has a little extra time for fun. What do you like to do? Where do you like to go? Personally I love hiking and going to the beach and there are plenty of great places for both right here in Shiga prefecture. Otsu city itself has a dozen beaches, all a short drive from central Otsu and most of which offer free parking! My favourite is Wani Hama, just north of Katata. Hiking? On the west side of Lake Biwa are the Hiei and Hira mountain ranges, on the east side is the Suzuka mountain range. Both east and west offer hundreds of hiking courses and dozens of mountains to explore.
This is the silver lining to living in a small country. People often complain that the country is too small. Frequently I am told how lucky I am to come from Canada, which is such a large land. Many people are surprised when I tell them that I have never been to Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s most famous sightseeing points. The truth is that it’s over 4 hours by aeroplane from Vancouver to Toronto, and then a couple hours by bus or train from there. It would cost me hundreds of dollars just in travel. In Japan however, everything is nearby. This is the clearest advantage to a compact country- everything is close at hand. Combine that with incredible public transit and fantastic infrastructure, and this is truly the ideal place to live. This summer I plan to do some camping. A quick search online and I can find over a dozen campground within 30 minutes by car of my house in Ishiyama. Compact, convenient, close at hand! I love this country.
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu