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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road and its Mouthwatering Desserts

Are you going to visit Hikone Castle soon? Don’t forget to stop by the Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road (夢京橋 キャッスル口一ド), which continues for 350 meters from the castle’s Kyōbashi Bridge. Traditional houses with white walls and black windows lining the sides of the road will almost make you feel like you have slipped back in time to the Edo period (1603 – 1867)!

The street is the best place to head to for various shops and restaurants in the center of Hikone City. Many of them have a long history dating back centuries. Some of the confectionaries were made in the image of various historical attractions close by.

Yume Kyōbashi Akari-kan (夢京橋あかり館)

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

Yume Kyōbashi Akari-kan is a facility where you can discover the charm of a relaxing atmosphere created by light and aroma. From the traditional Japanese candles that used to be offered to Tokugawa Shogunate to the modern aroma candles, it is a perfect shop for souvenirs.

If you love incense, you can bring a couple of traditional incense back home.

And if you want to make the souvenir more unique and personal, you can make your candle or lantern at their workshop.

If you are interested, arrive at the workshop between 10 am and 4 pm. Depending on your plan, it will take around 30 to 60 minutes.

The museum on the second floor has samurai-related exhibitions with different themes throughout the year. However, no English explanation is provided.

The Beckoning Cat Corner (招福本舗)

Yume Kyōbashi Akari-kan also features a beckoning cat corner. You will find a wide range of both traditional and creative beckoning cat merchandise in the shop.

One of the theories of the origin of the beckoning cat is related to the second lord of the Hikone Domain – Ii Naotaka (井伊直孝). This is why the city’s mascot – Hikonyan is a cat!

For the story of the encounter between Ii Naotaka and the cat, please refer to our Hikone Castle article.

What Kind of Fortune Is Your Beckoning Cat Bringing You?

A beckoning cat is a charm that brings good luck to its owner. But how would you know exactly what sort of fortune your cat would beckon?

  • How high is the cat’s hand raised
    • The higher the cat’s hand, the greater the fortune
    • In the scenario that the cat is calling for the person to assist you in achieving your goal, the higher the cat’s hand, the further away that person will be coming from
  • Which hand is the cat raising
    • Right hand: beckoning money
    • Left hand: beckoning social connections
  • The cat’s color:
    • White: Luck
    • Black: Overcoming difficulties
    • Red: Protection from disease and disaster
    • Gold: Money
    • Blue: Safety
    • Green: Passing exams
    • Yellow: Marriage ties

Yume Kyōbashi Akari-kan’s Business Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Yume Kyōbashi Akari-kan is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm except Tuesdays.
    • If Tuesday is a public holiday, it will close on the next business day instead.
  • Entry to the shop is free.
  • Participating in a workshop will cost at least 1,000 yen.
  • The admission fee to the museum on the second floor is
    • 270 yen for adults
    • 130 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • From JR Hikone Station, it is around a 20-minute walk.
  • If you plan to take a bus, please get off at either Honmachi Castle Road (本町キャッスルロード) or Kyōbashi-guchi (京橋口).

Yamajou Saryō (山上茶寮)

Looking for a unique place for lunch?

Yamajou Saryō is a restaurant where you can enjoy all-you-can-eat pickles made from fresh local ingredients!

More than 20 different vegetable pickles are placed on the counter in the middle of the dining space on the second floor. They even offer cheese pickles!

If you don’t know where to start, start with red konjac (赤こんにゃ) because it might run out (´▽`*).

Another notable thing about the restaurant is its miso soup. Rather than having a large pot of soup on the counter, it is a bowl of miso paste and monaka waffles.

That is right. You make your miso soup here!

Firstly, put a spoonful of miso paste into the round waffle. Then add other ingredients such as shallots. Once you are ready, cover the waffle with another waffle, then place it into a soup bowl. Add some hot water and wait for one minute.

Lastly, mix well and enjoy!

Important: Please note the miso paste contains fish extract.

If one bowl of rice isn’t enough, you can always ask for more! After all, who can resist the deliciousness of Japanese rice?

After you are satisfied with the savory dishes, head to the dessert corner for some sweet pickles. Having the dessert with a cup of Ōmi tea is the best way to end your all-you-can-eat session!

If you love a particular pickle, when you are back down on the ground floor, you can grab a few packs of it as souvenirs!

If you aren’t up for lunch, there are testers in the shop for you to try as well.

Yamajou Saryō and Shimoda Town

The pickles here were all made from vegetables from Shimoda (下田) in the south of the Shiga Prefecture. After the vegetables were harvested, they were fermented in pottery made in Shimoda (called Shimoda-yaki (下田焼)). Shimoda-yaki is known for its durability. This is another reason why the tableware in the restaurant is Shimoda-yaki.

Yamajou Saryō’s Business Hours, Price, and Access Information

  • Yamajou Saryō’s lunch hours are from 11:30 am to 3 pm.
    • The last entry is at 2 pm.
  • The shop on the first floor is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm
  • The restaurant is closed in January and February. You can refer to their business calendar HERE. The days that are marked as “営業” are the days that the restaurant will open.
  • An all-you-can-eat session will cost
    • 1,700 for adults
    • 1,000 yen for elementary school students
    • 500 yen for children from the age of 4

Mandokoro-en (政所園)

Mandokoro-en is the perfect place to stop by if you love Japanese tea and matcha. It originated from Uji, Kyoto, and has a branch shop on Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road. If you aren’t in a hurry, head to their cafe on the second floor for some relaxing tea time.

Speaking of tea from Mandokoro-en, the famous tea shop is known for its high-quality, organic tea leaves. Their matcha soft-serve made with premium matcha powder is rich in flavor and the right sweetness.

To enhance the experience, you can even get a soft-serve covered with both gold and silver leaves!

The most popular menu item is a matcha soft-serve called Genzaburō (源三郎), made from two different kinds of matcha powder. The darker green color indicates a more bitter taste.

In addition to their dessert menu, you can also enjoy a tea-tasting session at Mandokoro-en.

You will be given three teapots, each filled with different tea leaves. Because there are plenty of tea leaves in the teapots, the tea from the second or even the third brew still effuses the fragrance of the tea!

Besides tea, you can also get some cute traditional crafts from Mandokoro-en.

Mandokoro-en Kyōbashi’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Mandokoro-en Kyōbashi is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Monday.
  • From JR Hikone Station, it is around a 20-minute walk.
  • If you are taking a bus, please get off at either Honmachi Castle Road (本町キャッスルロード) or Kyōbashi-guchi (京橋口).

Kashin Ohsuga (菓心おおすが)

Whether you prefer Japanese or Western confectionary, Kashin Ohsuga is a great place to stop by.

In addition to the sweets sold throughout the year, Kashin Ohsuga also has seasonal confectionaries that reflect the current season.

A must-buy for all the Hikonyan’s fans is their Hikonyan Ningyō-yaki (ひこにゃんの人形焼).

Ningyō-yaki is a small cake filled with sweet bean paste baked in an iron mold. Instead of only using wheat flour, Kashin Ohsuga added sticky rice powder, making the cake’s texture extra chewy.

Hikonyan is the city’s mascot.

Japanese Confectionary – Sanjūgo-mangoku

The shop’s signatory Japanese sweet is Sanjūgo-mangoku (三十五万石). The rice bale-shaped waffle is filled with red bean paste and Gyūhi (求肥), a softer variety of mochi rice cake.

Why rice bale? Until the end of the Edo period, koku/goku was used to indicate wealth. The more koku a domain has, the wealthier and more powerful.

From the Sengoku to the Edo period, rice that can be stored for a long time had the same value as money. And one koku was equal to 150 kg of rice (note the weight fluctuated).

In the Edo period, the territory of the Hikone domain was valued at 350,000 goku. The confectionary passed down for generations was thus named after the symbol of wealth within the Hikone domain and molded into a rice bale.

Get the premium version of Sanjūgo-mangoku with a whole chestnut filling half of the waffle if you love chestnuts like us!

Western Confectionary – Shara

For Western confectionary, give this round white confectionary a try. It is called Shara (沙羅), the flower of sal trees.

The shop got the idea of its appearance from the flowers blooming in Ryōtanji Temple (龍潭寺). It takes the form of a yellow bean paste wrapped in white chocolate.

Note that Shara needs to be stored in the fridge. It will not taste as intended if left at room temperature for long.

Kashin Ohsuga’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kashin Ohsuga is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily from Friday to Sunday.
  • From JR Hikone Station (彦根駅), it is approximately an 18-minute walk.
  • If you are taking a bus, please get off at either Honmachi Castle Road (本町キャッスルロード) or Kyōbashi-guchi (京橋口).

Minakai (三中井)

For cake lovers, Minakai is the shop you want to head to. The cake shop has been making Western confectioneries since 1954 without sweeteners and preservatives.

Their roll cake Olympia (オリンピア) is just magical!

Rather than wrapping the cream and peach with sponge cake, it is wrapped in layers similar to both a pie pastry and crepe. The shop reckons the roll cake is so unique and delicious that it can compete in the Olympics if there is one for confection. This is why they named Olympia (´▽`*).

Minakai’s Business Hours and Acces Information

  • Minakai is open from 9 am to 7 pm.
  • It is around a 20-minute walk from JR Hikone Station (彦根駅).
  • If you are taking a bus, please get off at either Honmachi Castle Road (本町キャッスルロード) or Kyōbashi-guchi (京橋口).

Itojū (いと重)

Itojū is another confectionery shop founded in the Edo period.

First opened in 1809, its branding depicts where the 13th lord of the Hikone Domain, Ii Naosuke, lived before becoming a successor of the Ii Clan.

The residence, named Umoregi no Ya (埋木舎), is peaceful with abundant vegetation and was the ideal environment for him to devote himself to learning. Without the 15 years spent at Umoregi no Ya, Naosuke wouldn’t have been able to become the person he was.

Thus, the name Umoregi was aptly used for the green Japanese confectionary that has been the most popular item on the menu. This confectionery, coated with premium matcha powder and Wasanbon sugar, isn’t overly sweet. The outer layer will first melt in your mouth as you bite into the somewhat chewy texture.

The confectionery at the bottom of the Instagram post is called Hikone-ji (彦根路). The dark and white color imitates the white halls and black stone base of Hikone Castle.

It is also a sweet that contains delicious chestnuts!

For a list of their Japanese sweets on sale throughout the year, please refer to their website HERE. When you visit the shop, there will be some seasonal confectioneries, too (such as sweets with a ghost image for Halloween).

Itojū’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The shop is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm daily except Tuesdays.
  • If you can’t make it during this time, their main store, just a 3-minute walk away, has longer trading hours from 8:30 am to 6 pm. It also closes on Tuesdays.
  • It is around a 20-minute walk from JR Hikone Station (彦根駅).
  • If you are taking a bus, please get off at either Honmachi Castle Road (本町キャッスルロード) or Kyōbashi-guchi (京橋口).

Sōan-ji Temple (宗安寺)

Towards the end of the Kyōbashi Castle Road, there is a temple with an unusual red gate. The temple’s connection to the Samurais don’t just stop at having a gate from Sawayama Castle. It is also where the Hikone Domain held rituals for Tokugawa Ieyasu!

In addition, Sōan-ji has a gorgeous garden illustrating Buddha’s Pureland. So when you visit Hikone, how about visiting this historical spot?

For more information, refer to our article on Sōan-ji!

Ⓒ びわこビジターズビューロー

Yonbanchō Square (四番町スクエア)

At the far end of Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road, Yonbanchō Square, reborn from a shopping district known as Hikone’s kitchen in 2005, is a complex filled with boutique shops and restaurants.

The buildings in the square are unified to a more modern appearance reflecting Japan’s townscape in the early 1900s. Although the restaurant’s interior looks much more modern, many shops retain a traditional vibe. Confectionaries, such as mochi rice cakes, are made from fresh ingredients!

There are also benches and a toilet facility, making it a good place to rest if you tire of shopping at Yume Kyōbashi Castle Road.

Yonbanchō Square and Hikone’s Mascot, Hikonyan

Another reason why Yonbanchō Square is popular among tourists is Hikone City’s mascot – Hikonyan.

Yonbanchō Square is one of the few spots around Hikone Castle where you can meet the cat at specific times each day. This cat is popular around the country, with passionate fans traveling all the way to Hikone to meet him.

While you can also meet him at Hikone Castle, at Yonbanchō Square, you get to greet him up close.

After feeling the charm of Hikonyan, you can start your hunt for Hikonyan merchandise and menu items adorned with the image of this adorable cat!

For more information about Hikonyan, please refer to our Hikone Castle article.

Furukawa Hinobori-dō (古川日登堂)

The Japanese confectionary shop is located at the east end of Yonbanchō Square. Established in 1955, the shop is known for its Hikone Daimyō-yaki (彦根大名焼) and Strawberry Daifuku (いちご大福).

The Hikone Daimyō-yaki can be thought of as a Dorayaki. The pancake-like patties are softer and lighter than usual. Sandwiched between the two patties is red bean paste made from beans from Hokkaidō and chestnuts. While the amount of chestnuts isn’t as generous as some might prefer, we still believe it is just the right amount to bring out the flavor of the red bean paste and the patties.

The Strawberry Daifuku is only available from November to April each year. When it is available, it is the most popular product in the shop.

The daifuku has a thin layer of fine white bean paste wrapped around a strawberry. Then another thin, chewy layer of glutin rice is wrapped over the white bean paste.

The white bean paste layer is rather thin and may appeal to those who typically do not like traditional sweets containing bean paste.

The white bean paste is less sweet than daifuku sold elsewhere. The confectioners here manage to strike an exquisite balance between the sourness of juicy strawberries from Kyūshū and the light sweetness of Daifuku.

From May to August, they also have Blueberry Daifuku. In late summer, from late August to October, their Grape Daifuku will be available.

Furukawa Hinobori-dō’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The shop is open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm daily except Tuesdays.
  • It is approximately a 20-minute walk from JR Hikone Station (彦根駅).

Tip: As popular items in the shop may be sold out early, you can call to make a reservation. Their phone number is +81-749-22-0037. If you don’t speak Japanese, check with the staff at your accommodation to see if they can reserve on your behalf.

Discover Where Else to Visit in Hikone

Taga-Taisha-Taiko-bashi-Hikone-Shiga-Japan
Click the photo to find out more about other attractions in Hikone!

Want to find out more attractions close by that you might be interested in? Check out our article on Hikone!

In the article, you will be introduced to some delicious Japanese and Western sweets shops, interesting temples and shrines, and many more historical destinations you might not know!

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