September 2, 2013

by Keita Matsui and Shiho Tanaka

What is Funazushi

Funazushi is fermented funa (freshwater carp). The biggest lake in Japan is Lake Biwa, in Shiga prefecture. Because the lake is filled with carp, funazushi is a special food product of Shiga. Mainly, it is the nigorobuna carp species used in the production of funazushi. Nigurobuna is a species indigenous to Shiga. The funa used in making funazushi is usually pickled in salt and rice. After the fermentation process, the funa are cut into slices and are ready to eat. However, funazushi has an extremely peculiar smell and taste, causing some people to like it very much, while other detest it. By the way, smell of funazushi is stronger than natto.


Way to make Funazushi

Basically, most funazushi is made with funa caught in springtime. Once captured, the funa’s internal organs are removed, except for its scales, gills and ovaries. One interesting point is that people do not cut out the funa’s stomach, but instead stuff the stomach full of salt. This is repeated with multiple fish. After that, all the funa are placed into a pail and are covered in salt. This process of placing the fish into a pail and covering with salt is repeated until the pail is full with stacked fish. Finally, people put a final layer of salt on the top and put a lid on the pail. Then, a heavy stone is placed on the top of the pail, which is then put in a cool, dark place. Again, this is done in the spring of each year.

In summer, it is time to harvest the fermented funa. People start by taking the funa out from the fermentation pail and washing it clean. Next, people stuffed each funa with boiled rice. Along with this, they also add salt and alcohol (sake) to the boiled rice. This pail put cold and dark place, too. Then, when everything is ready, people can eat their funa with rice containing vinegar and sugar. This is way to make funazushi according to the traditional methods from Shiga Prefecture.

History of Funazushi

According to historians, funazushi has been around since the Heian age, from about 794 to 1185. So as you can see, funazushi had been being eaten by Japanese people from a very a long time ago. And, the books in Nara age ware wtitten the ward funazushi. Funazushi made their ages is same way to make with now. There are the reason that people made funazushi. Funazushi used a lot of salts and rice. In Nara age, salts and rice harvested near Lake Biwa. Funa harvested in Lake Biwa. So, there are salts and rice near and used funazushi. And, there is prospect that funazushi was conveyed China. Funazushi wasn’t pickled salts and rice to save, and to taste. Funazushi used a lot of salts and rice, so it is high-quality food.

How to eat Funazushi

There are a number of ways to eat funazushi. Even if funazushi is called ‘sushi’, implying that it is eaten with rice soaked in vinegar and sugar, eating it straight, without any condiments or accompanying foods is actually quite common. One delicious way to eat funazushi is to dip it in ginger and soy sauce. Another way is to deep-fry funazushi to make tempura. Furthermore, you can put funazushi on crackers with cheese, and eat them Western style. Funazushi is also adored by some as the perfect accompaniment to Japanese sake (rice wine). We recommend you Boiled rice in tea of funazushi. And this is very light, so we can eat at any time.

Funazushi on rice

Where can we eat Funazushi

It goes without saying that because funazushi is a traditional food from Shiga, you can buy it just about anywhere in Shiga. It is sold in supermarkets, in shops that that make it, and in Japanese food stores. When you buy funazushi in the supermarket, you should choose funazushi made nishikibuna . In supermarket, there are cheaply funazushi made mabuna . Looks of funazushi made mabuna is biger, but taste is OK. We recommend you buy funazushi made nishikibuna. Nishikibuna and mabuna is a kind of funa .In Kyoto, funazushi is sold in Nishiki streets and Japanese food stores, because Kyoto is near to Shiga. But, you can’t buy wherever in Kyoto. If you want to eat funazushi possibly, we recommend you buy funazushi in the Internet. But, you should be careful about season, because funazushi may don’t be made.

The Miho Museum

by Kana Matsumoto and Satoko Nasu

Miho Museum Tunnel

The Miho Museum is located in the southern area of Shiga Prefecture, which is next to Kyoto, and it is surrounded by rich nature. It exhibits a private collection of Asian and European antiques gathered by Mihoko Koyama, who was the leader of new religious group called ‘Shinji Shumeikai’. In the museum there are more than 2,000 works of various origins, such as pieces from Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Near and Middle East, Gandhara, China, and Japan. At any given time, around 250 pieces are exhibited in the museum.

The History of The Miho Museum

Inside The Tunnel

Mrs. Koyama loved to collect tea ceremony tools due to the influence of her parents. She gradually hoped to open a gallery to exhibit them. She asked Ieoh Ming Pei, a great architect famous for the East Hall of The National Gallery in Washington and the ‘Glass Pyramid’ in the Louvre, to design her museum. He proposed the idea that it is better to display not only the works of tea untensils, but also many different things. Therefore, Mrs. Koyama traveled around the world to gather various antiquities when Mr. Pei started to build the musuem’s unique architecture. The Miho Museum was finally completed in 1997. Its construction is very unique because 80% of the buildings are buried in the ground to harmonize with the environment and the surrounding view. Pei respects the thinking of the Japanese people and their culture and traditions. He said, “I think you can see a very conscious attempt on my part to make the silhouette of the building comfortable in the natural landscape.”(Miho Museum) Mr. Pei thought the Shigaraki Mountains were the most suitable place to set up the museum. In addition, the location is close to the headquarters of the Shinji Shumeikai group.

Visitors From Around The World

The Main Building

According to the museum, 120,000 tourists visit the Miho Museum each year, and surprisingly more than 10% of them are from foreign countries. Yet even some people from Shiga prefecture do not know about the museum. A marketing campaign for The Miho Museum was conducted for a whole year leading up to the anniversary of the establishment. Many influential government officials in Japan were involved the campaign and helped to spread awareness of the museum all over the world. In addition, a documentary video about The Miho Museum was made and broadcasted by The Discovery Channel in various languages. The press agent we interviewed said this video includes an interview with Mr. Pei and shows the process of constructing the museum. Since then, awareness of the museum has increased amongst foreign tourists by word of mouth.

Why Does The Miho Museum Attract So Many Visitors?

Great Interior Design

The Miho Museum is held in high regard around the world. There are three reasons for this.

1. The Unique Architectural Design of I.M. Pei.

The first thing that surprises visitors is the design of the museum. The theme of design is Shangri-La. It is said that the construction of The Miho Museum is the recreation of an old Chinese story in which a man loses his way and eventually ends up discovering the wonderful Shangri-La. Indeed, through the mystic tunnel and bridge to the main hall, a different world unfolds before your eyes. It’s like a real Shangri-La, harmonized well with nature off from the urban area and surrounded by magnificent mountains. In fact Mr. Pei strongly wanted to respect Japanese people’s heart and tradition, which values the harmony of buildings with landscapes. Those constructions are the results of his mind. What is more, the inside of the buildings will also surprise you. Natural light is streamed down from the uniquely designed roofs, while softly-colored walls of limestone offer warmth and relaxation. Everything was carefully designed with consideration of visitors in mind. In addition, the museum offers great facilities for storing and exhibiting art under the best possible conditions. For this reason, visitors can enjoy viewing art during any season of the year.

2. Great Displays Bring Happiness to Visitors

Beautiful Interior Passage

In the museum, there are many selected exhibits from around the world. They vary from Japanese arts such as tea utensils, Buddhist art, ceramic, lacquerware and Yamato-e paintings of the ancient arts of the world, such as Egypt, West Asia, Greece, Rome, South Asia, China, Persia, and so on. There are a many rare pieces of art each having long histories; all of them displayed beautifully. And they also seem to have a strong presence, as if they were sending some special message to us. In fact, all of the displays were carefully gathered by Mrs. Koyama based on the idea of making people happy and being influenced by beautiful things. Visitors will surely feel a great sense of satisfaction and happiness to encounter these great collections.

3. Great Hospitality

The service by the museum staffs is another wonderful feature of this museum. In the interview with the press agent of the Miho museum, she seemed to be very proud of the services the Miho offers to visitors as well as its architecture and art collection. The museum staff have made several great efforts to increase visitor satisfaction. First, they serve visitors from foreign countries with staff members who can speak foreign languages such as English, Chinese, and so on. Thanks to this service, the museum has become popular among foreigners. In addition, the restaurant in the museum serves meals which are made of all organic ingredients. They try to make people’s heart and body refreshed and fully satisfied. Of course, all staff members are sure to maintain a polite and courteous demeanor toward each visitor. Such great hospitality definitely helps to make people satisfied and happy.


Take the JR Biwako line from Kyoto Station to Ishiyama Station ( 230 yen, 15 min.). At the south gate of Ishiyama station, take the Teisan bus number 150 to the Miho museum ( 800 yen, 50 min.). It takes just over an hour in total from Kyoto.

300, Tashiro Momodani, Shigaraki, Shiga

Tel. +81 (0)748 82 3411

10:00 to 17:00 (Admission until 16:00)

1,000 yen for adults; 800 yen for high school and college students; 300 yen for elementary school students.