As the former land of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the man regarded as Japan’s second “great unifier”, Nagahama City is an old castle town with a special place in the history books of Japan. Located on the northeastern shores of Lake Biwa, it acted for centuries as a “post town” on the Hokkoku Kaido highway where Edo-era officials could find lodging. To this day, the city preserves its charming character, the hospitality of bygone times, and a passion for art and culture.
The main city attractions are centralized and are most within a 30-minute walk from JR
Nagahama Station. Wander through its narrow streets and Nagahama’s cozy atmosphere
will be evident at every turn. From Kurokabe Square, up Otemon Street, following ancient canals and visiting its temples and shrines, you will get a taste of life in this lakeside town. This is the home of the historic Hikiyama Festival in April, where kids perform kabuki plays while riding on beautiful floats. It is also a city of glass-makers, earthenware craftsmen, and artists in general; all willing to share their work and skills with visitors through exhibitions and
workshops. And although the city’s castle is a replica of Hideyoshi’s original one, it is also a
sight to be seen on the lakeshore. It houses the Nagahama Castle Museum and during cherry blossom season, it is filled with beauty.
The comfort found on its streets can also be experienced through Nagahama’s cuisine. The
signature dish here is Yaki Saba Somen, or fried mackerel noodles, a slow-cooked treat served in traditional style. Noodles seem to be a favourite here, as top-rated restaurants offer award-winning ramen and memorable “noppei” udon noodles. You will also experience Nagahama’s take on Ohmi beef which maintains the high quality found around the lake region.
But a visit to Nagahama is not limited to the town centre. For those willing to explore its outskirts, the city spreads further north through vast farming fields and up to the town of Kohoku. Here you will further disconnect from the urban atmosphere, coming into contact with the waters of Lake Biwa, and the wild birds who inhabit the Kohoku water bird park. You will also get a front-row look at Chikubushima Island and the Hira Mountains on the west side of the lake. The misty mornings and the sunset views from this point are a magical experience not to be missed.