There is an old record about Fukuda-ya in the book "Imazu Reed Hall Village Shogi (Supplement) No. 2". The book was written by Mr. Yoshinori Morita who was a priest of the Sumiyoshi shrine near Fukudaya. He examined the history of the former Imazu village through the shrine's old documents. The book shows each street address and the ownership changes.
According to this book, the person who started Fukudaya was a person named Fukuda Zenzo. He ran an oil shop in Imazu under the name of "Zenzo" and moved to the present location in the Meiji era. He also seemed to have been running an inn for a long time, as Zenzo's name appears among the 15 inns listed in the officer's report in the Meiji 4 (1870).
In an amulet that we found in Fukudaya's attic, there is a carpenter's note with the date of Koreki (Imperial calendar) the year 2355. We found this during the restoration of the second floor. It was bound with several reeds and other talismans by rusted strings. The year of the Imperial century 2535 corresponds to the year 1875, which is the Meiji 8th. The name "Fukuda Zenzo" can be found in the tax record of Meiji 9th. So we conclude this is the start of Fukudaya and it's building.
"Tsu" means port. Many of the tsu in the Lake are located on the immediate side of the inner lake which parted from the main lake. In the olden days, it provided a port for ships. Before Imazu(tsu), the south "Kohtsu" was the main port of Kosei. Many northern products were carried by boat in the Japan sea to Wakasa and shipped to Kyoto to Osaka by Lake Biwa. There was a trade route from Wakasa to Biwa, and the road from Obama to Kohtsu became significant in the latter half of the 12th century. Kohtsu was a prosperous port.
However, there is no inner lake adjacent to Kohtsu now. When you investigate the lake around old Kohtsu, you will find the remains of the inner Lake. In the half moon bay in front of the ShinAsahi bird watching center, just south of Kohtsu, there are shallow places which close the bay to the coast. When the water level is low, it shows the figure, and it is also a place where birds such as swans rest. The local people called it old "Tonosamamachi." It closed the bay and the place used to be an inner lake. However, in the early 15th century the lake bank descended due to the rise in the water level, and the inner lake was lost. So Imazu, who has a small inner lake in the immediate north became a vital port. Instead, Imazu flourished. Moreover, under the national unity of Nobunaga and following Hideyoshi, Imazu was given a monopoly right of handling a cargo from Wakasa. It gave Imazu more prosperity.
Song of Lake Biwa Sailing
Fukudaya has seen many episodes in its long history. The story about the famous Lake Biwa sailing song is one of them. You can see the story in the "Basic knowledge of song about Lake Biwa" on the webpage of Takashima city.
"Today I made a poem by rowing a boat," Oguchi showed off to a crew member at the Imazu Inn on the second day of Lake Biwa circumnavigation, and they sang themselves following the melodies of "Hitsujigusa," the popular song of the day among students. The lyrics were completed up to number six by the summer of the following year.
The song still survives and has become like an anthem of Shiga. Researcher Tadayoshi Iida wrote that the accommodation in Imazu is somewhere in "Nagahama-ya" "Fukudaya" "Choujiya." Various events were held in 2017 because this song reached its 100th anniversary. In Imazu, there was a talk event with former governor Yoshiko Kada, and after the lecture, all the participants had visited and watched the Fukudaya on restoration.
The print at the previous page published in Meiji 22 (1889) shows the appearance of Fukudaya at that time. The Chinese character "Fukuda Sada" seen on the right of the figure is a name of Zenzo's daughter. She succeeded Zenzo and passed to "Fukuda Hana." After that in Meiji 43 "Otsu Koh" from Kutsuiki village, and after that, "Mr. Yamamoto Sangoro" inherited the hotel.
After the army practice ground opened in the Aiba area, Fukudaya became crowded as a lodging facility of a high-ranking army officers. Also, for influential people in neighboring villages, it provided excellent dinner accommodation. Fukudaya had kept the fame of the Imazu's best restaurant-inn long. After the end of the war, it became for a US military hotel for a while. Since Lake Biwa has many good filming locations.
Fukudaya also became a regular hotel for movie stars of past years. Old hotel notes show the name of many famous old actors, writers, and politicians. However, as time flows people's flow will also change. As the Showa era became Heisei, customers in the past gradually disappeared. Fukudaya fell into a gradual decline. ■