Shigaraki is a small pottery town in the middle of Shiga's countryside, but it is a town with a long and interesting history. Shigaraki became the Imperial capital for a few months in the year 745, but the Imperial court moved after the palace was burned down in a forest fire. However the really curious thing about Shigaraki is that everywhere you look there are cute pottery raccoon dogs known as tanuki.There seems to be a number of interesting stories about these tanuki. For example, once when the emperor visited the town the local people were concerned that they were too few in number to provide a rousing welcome for their illustrious guest, so they got the idea of lining up hundreds of tanuki on the sides of the road. I bet that made the emperor smile!
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I fell in love with Japan long before I came here in 2003 to teach English, and it has proved to be a lasting romance. I love the history, the traditional architecture, the food, the strange and sometimes ridiculous contrasts, and the beautiful countryside. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and in Kyoto for nine years, and now I live in Machida in Tokyo. I've traveled a little in Japan, but not nearly as much as I'd like to. I like traveling by train, but my favorite way to travel is bicycle.