A hidden gem of a Soba restaurant
Traditional style of Sara-soba
A pioneer of Sara-soba restaurants in Shiga
The Sara-soba style originated in Izushi, Hyogo Prefecture. Founded in 2003, Nagisa-an is a pioneer of Sara-soba restaurants in Shiga. We are always keeping in mind the traditional Sara-soba style of Izushi which is the home of Sara-soba.
Origin of the name "Nagisa-an”
Nagisa-an is located in the southern part of Lake Biwa, at Nionohama, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. The lakeside area of Nionohama has a five-kilometer stretch of “Otsu lakeside Nagisa Park,” and the name “Nagisa-an” was taken from the word “Nagisa” because of its location near Nagisa Park. It is right next to the landmark “Otsu Biwako Prince Hotel” in Otsu. The restaurant is located in a secluded area, surrounded by many skyscrapers, making it a hidden gem of a Soba restaurant in the valley between the buildings.
the place of Nagisa-an located
Nionohama (鳰の浜) is the name of place here. The meaning of Kanji “鳰” is the bird in the water, especially it means the duck in Lake Biwa. Many years ago, there were a lot of ducks here, and this bird is registered as the prefecture’s symbol animal now. In the 1980s, more than 20000 birds were observed, but in recent years the number has decreased to around 500, and the prefecture has designated it as a rare species.
Hidden gem “Nagisa-an”
Visit and enjoy Sara-soba style
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Oni and Nagisa-an
"Otsu-e", the best folk art in Otsu
Painted by Shozan Takahashi
Japanese folk painting, Otsu-e
Nagisa-an’s paintings of Oni are from Otsu-e (大津絵), the most popular folk art in Otsu, which was known as one of Japan’s two great folk paintings ( “Ukiyo-e” in the East and “Otsu-e” in the West) in the Edo period.
Nagisa-an begins with a noren (curtain) draped with Oni. (Oni is a type of Japanese demonic creature often of giant size, great strength, and fearful appearance.) There are also many arts of demons in the store. It is said that Pablo Picasso loved and was influenced by Otsu-e. At Nagisa-an, you can see rare Otsu-e paintings drawn by Mr. Shozan Takahashi, an Otsu-e artist.
Encounter with Otsu-e
At the time of our founding, we were unfamiliar with Otsu-e despite being in Otsu, and it was one of our customers who introduced us to “Oni no E” (鬼の絵; Demon Paintings). he was Mr. Shimizu, who himself enjoyed painting Otsu-e. We still have and will continue to display the Otsu-e on the ship’s wooden planks that he gave us.
Oni for Nagian
In the past, Otsu-e was also used as a charm to pray for the safety of travelers on their journeys. Soba was also regarded as a food that was good for the body, as in the saying “Soba is medicine,” and it was believed to cut off bad luck (Soba Kiri). At our restaurant, soba is likened to a demon (god of disease), and eating Soba is believed to bring good luck, good fortune, good health, and safety on the road in the form of extermination of demons. By eating a lot of Soba, people pray for the eradication of the plague and for good fortune to come to them.
Otsu-e and Soba Noodles
During the Edo period (1603-1867), Otsu-e was a popular souvenir for travelers visiting Kyoto who was returning to their home countries, as it was easy to carry. Matsuo Basho, a haiku poet, and traveler, also wrote a haiku about Otsu-e, saying, “What a Buddha is at the beginning of the brush of Otsu-e” ( in Japanese, “大津絵の筆のはじめは何佛”). The area around Mt. Osaka on the Tokaido Highway, which was the gateway to Kyoto, was lined with stores selling Otsu-e paintings to travelers passing by. It is a nice experience to enjoy soba noodles while thinking of the travelers of that time.