During the Edo period, Imazu long flourished as a port post town along the major transport route from the Sea of Japan to Kyoto and Osaka.
While it drew merchants who made livelihoods from that transport route, it also attracted writers and poets who were looking for both meditative solitude and inspiring encounters to ignite their creative process.
According to literature from that time, Fukudaya was recognized as a key institution for such retreats, even among the many inns and shops that lined the main road.
Despite long standing popularity among travelers, Fukudaya closed its doors when it could no longer ride the many tides of change that redefined mobility and trade. We decided to bring the inn out of its long hibernation and restore it. It took 6 years of disassembly and repairs to be able to host travelers once again.
Beyond the building itself, the surrounding environment around Lake Biwa, or ‘Chikatsu Osumi’ as it was historically known, boasts a wide variety of harvest throughout all four seasons.
We see signs of spring when the birds, having rested their wings floating on Lake Biwa, start to take flight, and the air begins to feel crisp with potential. Fresh sake arrives from the brewery, and wild mountain vegetables and bamboo shoots poke their heads from the mountain fields.
The signals of summer are Lake Biwa’s gentle breeze, and when ayu fish start swimming upstream in the river. Although Lake Biwa’s ayu are quite small, their bones are soft and meat tender. We prepare wild caught ayu by carefully roasting them for hours, or cooked as a rice dish in a donabe clay pot, resulting in a deeply aromatic flavor.
As leaves turn to ochre and red in autumn, we light the irori hearth. In the Oumi region, it’s the season for wild boar and eel, and freshly harvested rice paired with fall’s mushrooms, among many other ingredients.
Then, when Mount Ibuki begins to receive a cloak of fresh snow, the sound of small grouper fish sizzling over charcoal on the shichirin grill brings comfort and warmth.
There’s no need for lavish embellishments when the ingredients are already so delicious.
Through the philosophy of five ways, five tastes, and five colors in Japanese cuisine, we seek to amplify the natural taste of locally harvested rice, vegetables, and fish caught from Wakasa Bay and Lake Biwa.
Our hope is that guests will come to think of Fukudaya as another base – a second home. We approach service not through uniform hospitality, but a custom approach that seeks to meet our guests’ wishes.
Fukudaya is a tranquil sanctuary off the beaten path. Rooms serve as a window onto the landscape, magnifying the ripples on Lake Biwa’s waters and the shifting hues of the expansive sky.