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Hikone, Shiga

MayorKoyo Shishiyama (since May 2005)
Total Area76 sq mi (196.84 km2)
Total Population111799 (October 1, 2010)
Density (pop.)567.97/km2 (1471/sq mi)
Other information
Time zoneJapan Standard Time (UTC+9)

     Home | City | Hikone

|} is a city located in Shiga, Japan. The city was incorporated on February 11, 1937.

Hikone's most famous historical site is Hikone Castle. Its construction was begun in 1603, by Ii Naokatsu, son of the former lord, Ii Naomasa, but was not completed until 1622. Naokatsu's lands had been taken from him in the interval by the Tokugawa shogunate, and when his brother Naotake assumed control of Ōmi Province, he was able to complete the castle by collecting stones from the former Sawayama Castle. When the Meiji period began in 1868, many castles were scheduled to be dismantled and only a request from the emperor himself, touring the area, kept Hikone Castle intact. Today it remains one of the oldest original-construction castles in Japan.

Hikone lies on the Nakasendō, which was one of the most important trading routes during the Edo period, and is home to two former post stations, Toriimoto-juku and Takamiya-juku. Today, a small area south of the castle, called the Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road, is built in the old style and attracts visitors keen to see modern construction fused with traditional looks. Even the Biwako Bank in this district has remodeled itself to fit in with the surrounding structures.

Hikone is the home of the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU), a facility operated jointly by a consortium of the fifteen public universities in the State of Michigan and the government of Shiga Prefecture that offers programs for American university students and scholars for the study of Japanese language and culture, as well as courses in English for the citizens of Shiga Prefecture. The Michigan Center, as it is known, was founded in 1989, under the auspices of the Michigan-Shiga Sister State Agreement, the oldest such relationship between a US state and Japanese prefecture.

In 2003, meetings were held to discuss the merger of Hikone with the towns of Toyosato, Kōra, and Taga. However, a survey conducted by the city in February 2004, revealed that most of the citizens opposed the merger, leading the city government to shelve the proposal for the time being.

The key industries of Hikone are Butsudan, textile and valve. Bridgestone has a tire manufacturing plant here. Fujitec, Ohmi Railway and Heiwadō (the largest supermarket chain in Shiga) are headquartered in Hikone.

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