Koga City located near the confluence of the Tone and Watarase Rivers in Ibaraki Prefecture is off the beaten path with the result that much of its urban space is a time warp back to the Showa and Edo eras. You’ll find rows of vintage shop fronts and the old mercantile center of the city, Sakanamachi which provisioned the castle at the heart of this town. Only traces of the castle remain, but you can get a sense of a bygone age at Yasumidokoro Sakacho.
Yasumidokoro welcomes locals and visitors as a center for culture and commerce based on local produce. It’s the ideal spot to start your slip back in time to the historic sites around the city. Yasumidokoro Sakacho is a short walk from the west exit of Koga Station. You know you’re on the right path when you see the massive stone pavers of Sakanamachi Street under your feet.
The site is in fact a collection of antique buildings. Facing the street is Sakacho itself, a former sake shop that today is used as a souvenir and produce shop. Flanking Sakacho is an ishigura, a stone warehouse, bunkogura, a book repository, and the Omoya antique house. All are said to be preserved buildings relocated from the lost Koga Castle.
The spaces are as vital today as they were in the past. Visitors can have a cup of coffee and a light meal at Sane Cafe and Gallery. The cafe uses local ingredients and premium coffee served on crockery sold in the gallery space.
Sakacho is also a hub for learning about the city and provides free bicycle lending. Sign out a bicycle at the front desk and explore the city’s museums and temples from here. A short distance away is Koga Kubo Park, famous for its peach grove in spring, the ancient Oga lotus pond in summer, and brilliant foliage in autumn. About a 20-minute ride west is the Watarase Yusuichi wetland for a full day of exploring.