When in Shiga: Yokarou 翼果楼 @ Nagahama, Shiga – Savour A Time-Honoured Local Delicacy with Parental Loving Roots

We visited this place in November 2019, prior to Covid-19. Do check for pandemic-related updates and precautions before making your visit.

Other than a bustling town square and vibrant port, Nagahama, Shiga is also home to a wholesome and delectable local delicacy – yaki-saba somen. But even if you have not heard of this delightful dish prior to visiting Nagahama, you would definitely pick up on its distinct aroma walking past Yokarou 翼果楼, one of two eateries that specialise in it this quaint castle town.

yokarou-nagahama-Saba-Kaido-with Yakisaba-Sushi

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When in Shiga: Station Front Bar Okura 駅前酒場 御蔵 @ Otsu, Shiga – Japanese Style Izakaya Located 10 Min Walk from Lake Biwa

We visited this place in November 2019, prior to Covid-19. Do check for pandemic-related updates and precautions before making your visit.

There is something charming about the experience of walking into a nondescript hole-in-the-wall, ordering local delicacies off the menu, and watching your food being prepared in front of you while soaking in its unpretentious atmosphere. Station Front Bar Okura 駅前酒場 御蔵, a Japanese-style izakaya that was highly recommended by the hotel’s staff, served as my pit-stop for a late bite during my stay in Otsu, Shiga.

station-front-bar-okura-shiga-counter

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When in Shiga: Honke Tsuruki Soba 本家 鶴㐂そば @ Otsu, Shiga – 300 Year Old Soba Restaurant; English Menu Available

There are long-standing businesses that you grow up with as a child. Then there are those that have been established long before your parents’, or your grandparents’ time.

Honke Tsuruki Soba 本家 鶴㐂そば has been serving up traditional hot and cold soba in Otsu, Shiga for close to three centuries. Located a brief 10 minute walk Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, the restaurant is housed in a sizeable building overlooking a quaint neighbourhood.

honke-tsuruki-soba-tempura-soba

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When in Shiga: Staying at Hotel Koo Otsuhyakucho @ Otsu, Shiga – Award-Winning Hotel Converted from Old Teahouses with a Muji-esque Vibe

For my most recent trip to Japan, I decided to trade the swelling crowds in Kyoto for a serene weekend at her eastern neighbour, Shiga.

hotel-koo-otsuhyakucho-13

Compared to tourist-ridden Kyoto, Shiga Prefecture is a much quieter place that remains relatively undiscovered compared to her far more famous neighbours. Most visitors, mainly domestic with a scattering of tour groups from China and Hong Kong, head for a lake-side hotel or ryokan to enjoy commanding views of Lake Shiga. However, to experience a real slice of life, I highly recommend a couple of nights at Hotel Koo Otsuhyakucho in Otsu. 

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