About Hikone City

About Hikone City

Profile of Hikone

The City of Hikone is in Shiga Prefecture, near the center of Japan. Hikone lies on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa, the country's largest lake, and covers an area of 196.84 km2. Some 110,000 people live here. Distinct seasons and rich natural surroundings give Hikone an appealing year-round beauty.
While serving as a center of industry and transportation, the city also attracts visitors from around Japan and overseas.
Hikone Castle, standing in elegant profile against Lake Biwa, is both the city's symbol and its main tourist attraction. Hikone proudly maintains close sister city ties with Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the United States and Xiangtan, Hunan, in China.

Nature and Terrain

The city of Hikone sits on the Eastern shore of Lake Biwa. Wooded mountains suitable for climbing and low lying plains together create a picturesque, scenic landscape around the city. The city experiences all four seasons, which provide fun activities all year round. The spring season is filled with cherry blossoms, followed by summer when people come out to play water sports. The fall is filled with brightly colored changing leaves and cool breezes along the shoreline. In winter, many people enjoy skiing in the nearby mountains. As the seasons change throughout the year, the beautiful sunsets across Lake Biwa remain breathtaking.

History

The City of Hikone has a very rich history. Hikone was first inhabited during the Jomon Period (8000 years ago) and was famous for its agriculture, providing rice to the imperial court. During the shogunate era of the late 16th century, Hikone served as a central battle ground for two opposing forces during a nation-wide feudal war. On September 15th, 1600, the ruling lord in Hikone was defeated. The lord's castle was destroyed, and a new one was built years later, with support from the new Tokugawa government. The erection of Hikone Castle resulted in the swift development of Hikone as a castle town. In 1622, the construction of the new castle and surrounding town was completed. During the Edo Period (1603- 1867), Hikone was governed by a strict shogunate and feudal system allowing peace and prosperity for over 200 years.
During this period Hikone grew and prospered with the building of major roads linking the city to the surrounding areas and a system for shipping rice to major ports on Lake Biwa.
In 1853 the American Commodore Matthew Perry led his ships to Japan causing great change for the previously secluded country. The Japanese were divided into two factions: one opposed to opening up the country, and one in favor of it. Hikone's Lord Naosuke Ii, although highly criticized at the time, signed a treaty with the U.S. that established free trade between the U.S. and Japan. He was later assassinated as a result.
In 1868, the new Meiji government was established. The end of the shogunate era brought great changes to the city of Hikone. Samurai and townsmen were forced to find new occupations, and left Hikone in search of work. Hikone's population drastically decreased. However, over time, the city of Hikone adjusted to the change, and began attracting people back because of its convenient rail line, strong educational tradition, and its industrial focus.

Industry and Agriculture

Industry has flourished in Hikone since the late 1960s. During this time of economic expansion Hikone City convinced many companies to locate their factories within its area. Partly due to the ideal climate and location near Lake Biwa, which provides an adequate water resource, three main industries were established. These were the production of Butsudan (Buddhist Altars), machinery valves, and garments. This has led to newer industries such as tire production, aluminum, and electricity. In addition, agriculture in Hikone is still plentiful. Within the southern part of Hikone large rice fields can be found. Unfortunately, the population of farmers has been decreasing. However, other areas of agriculture,such as the production of pears and green vegetables,are developing.

City Statistics

◎Population:111,514(July 2008)
Number of Men :54,897
Number of Women :56,617
Number of Households:42,507

◎ Area:196.84km2

◎ Temperature (2000)
Average:15.1℃
Maximum:37.0℃
Minimum:-2.5℃