Kyoto Shimbun 2007.12.14 News

"Hikonyan" Helps With Hikone Castle's Year-End Cleaning
One Year's Dirt Swept Off

The "Susuharai" year-end cleaning at Hikone Castle, Hikone City, started on December 14. Thirty-five staff from "Shiroyama-koen Jimusho," or the castle park office, split up to clean castle sections such as the keep and the three-layered roof. Assisting the cleaners was "Hikonyan," the popular mascot of the recent festival marking the 400th anniversary of Hikone Castle, a National Treasure.

Cleaning began at 9 a.m. Using 3 to 5 meter long brushes, cleaners stirred up great clouds of dust as they swept the castle ceilings and beams. Braving cold winds on the railings of the 15 meter high three-tiered floor, Hikonyan appeared, secured with a lifeline and spreading good cheer as he cleaned the outer walls and behind the roof from time to time.

This year Hikone Castle attracted about 760,000 tourists, 300,000 more than usual, during its 400th anniversary festival, which ran from March to November. Shigeru Miyata, head of the park's office, said, "We put everything we had into the cleaning out of appreciation for the castle attracting such a great number of visitors."

The Susuharai cleaning took three days, and covered all the castle buildings, including the famous "Tenbinyagura" turret.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= Hikonyan helping clean the castle keep (December 14, Hikone Castle, Shiga Prefecture)