Overview

Thanks to the incredible Lake Biwa, Japan's largest, Shiga Prefecture plays host to some of the most unique foods in the nation. But while the lake offers some choice foods like Japan's original sushi, the rich flavours of duck, and the succulently delicious trout, Shiga is also internationally renowned for what is arguably the world's best wagyu beef. Here is a simple guide to some of the regional cuisine of Shiga.

Funazushi

Making use of fish unique to Shiga's Lake Biwa, funazushi is the nation's original sushi. Literally years in the making, funazushi was originally a method of preserving fish by pickling in salt and fermenting with compressed rice. An Intangible Folk Cultural asset of the prefecture, funazushi is the next level in acquired taste.

Funazushi (Photo: <a href="http://blog.livedoor.jp/power85/archives/16018054.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Image by Power85</a>)
Funazushi (Photo: Image by Power85)

Kamo ryori

Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, is the home of duck and source of Shiga's kamo ryori, one of the most popular foods in the prefecture. Most commonly eaten as a sukiyaki dipping dish or as a nabe hot pot meal, duck's firm flesh and richly flavoured meat is a boon in the local culinary tradition.

Kamo ryori (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/naitwo2/24508297839/in/dateposted/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Hiroyuki Naito / CC BY 2.0</a>)
Kamo ryori (Photo: Hiroyuki Naito / CC BY 2.0)

Omi wagyu

One of Japan's top three wagyu beef brands, Omi wagyu is the oldest wagyu in the country, dating back some several hundred years. Only Japanese black cattle raised in Shiga Prefecture, on some of the best quality water and feed in the country, can be classified as Omi wagyu and the mellow taste and classic melt-in-the-mouth texture is the result.

Omi beef (Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LE_POINT_DE_VUE07s4s4000.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)
Omi beef (Photo: 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Biwa trout

Full of fat and with a texture that is just as sublime as fatty tuna, it is no surprise to hear that Shiga's Biwa trout is also known as the 'Treasure of Biwa.' Unique to the prefecture, this regional delicacy turns out to be difficult to catch. It is usually prepared as a sashimi or salt-grilled dish and its refined sweetness is matched only by its health benefits.

Biwa trout (Photo: <a href="http://blog.livedoor.jp/team_gachi/archives/53943467.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Image by ガチAN</a>)
Biwa trout (Photo: Image by ガチAN)