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Visiting Lake Biwa: 3 stylish cafés offering dreamy views of the area

Visiting Lake Biwa: 3 stylish cafés offering dreamy views of the area

Date published: 30 November 2019

Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan. Many people visit it throughout the year to enjoy its changing scenery. Here we will introduce three charming cafés from which to enjoy the scenery of Lake Biwa.

Table of Contents
  1. CLUB HARIE J'oublie Le Temps: Enjoy magnificent views of Lake Biwa from the terrace
  2. You can’t go wrong if you buy this bread! Here are types of bread recommended by J'oublie Le Temps
  3. Total commitment to the entire process from selection of the ingredients to the baking
  4. A café created expressly for eating delicious bread
  5. Petit CANAL: Right on the lake - the epitome of cute!
  6. Madocafe: Fashionable café in Otsu for people in the know

CLUB HARIE J'oublie Le Temps: Enjoy magnificent views of Lake Biwa from the terrace

The first café we visited was the bread specialty shop CLUB HARIE J'oublie Le Temps located about a 10-minute drive from the Meishin Expressway Hikone IC. CLUB HARIE is the shop famous for its baumkuchen and leaf pie confections.

Actually even from before, one section in the CLUB HARIE shop in Shiga Prefecture sold bread in addition to its Western-style confections and as its popularity quietly grew, it opened this bread specialty shop in 2010.

▲ When we visited on a weekday morning the parking area was already full of cars.

J'oublie Le Temps has a bread shop on the first floor and a café on the second floor. The white exterior of the shop against the bright blue sky reminded me of Provence in the south of France.

A great way to spend a coffee break is to buy bread and a drink in the shop and take them to the terrace and deck to enjoy them along with the superb view of Lake Biwa.

“J'oublie Le Temps” is French for “to forget time”. And this is just such a place where you can easily forget time.

▲ The view of Lake Biwa from the second floor deck.

First head to the bread shop. Even before entering the shop you will be able to smell the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread and when you open the door it will wash over you like a wave. This is the sweet aroma of happiness.

▲ As soon as the store opens customers flock to buy bread

There are always about 80 different types of bread offered. 50 of these are offered regularly while 30 vary according to the season.

▲All the bread is freshly baked between 11:00 a.m. and noon. That is the best time to visit.

You can’t go wrong if you buy this bread! Here are types of bread recommended by J'oublie Le Temps

With 80 different types of bread offered, it can be difficult knowing which ones to buy. If I could, I would buy all of them! But, that is not possible. So I asked Chef Yusuke Imai who makes the bread for his recommendations.

▲ Chef Imai has had much experience as a boulanger (baker) in famous hotels and restaurants in Japan and also has won bread-making contests.

The most popular is kugelbaum! CLUB HARIE is also famous for its baumkuchen which has caramel sauce encased in bread dough. The kugelbaum is round, the bottom part made with cookie dough that gives it a unique texture.

▲The kugelbaum (378 yen each, tax included) is just as satisfying as the moist baumkuchen

Equally as popular as the kugelbaum is the “Shukuro”. This is a cream puff made with croissant dough filled with rich custard cream.

The crust makes a delightfully crisp sound when it is cut in half. The inside is filled with custard cream.

▲ Shukuro (291 yen each, tax included). Be careful when you eat it because it is so full of custard cream!

Chef Imai next introduced Fruity, bread having a sweet flavor.

Cranberries, lemon peel, white chocolate, and Earl Grey cream are mixed into the bread dough. When the bread is lightly toasted, the cookie dough that has been lightly dusted with almond powder becomes crisp and savory. It goes really well with tea.

▲Fruity (864 yen per loaf, tax included). Depending on the season, other ingredients, such as raisins, matcha, and pumpkin are used.

Another popular type of bread is called Ibukiyama because it is modeled after Mount Ibuki which can be seen from Lake Biwa. Just as the mountain scenery changes with each season so does the content of the bread: mango and pineapple in summer, and chestnuts and pumpkin in autumn.

▲ Mount Ibuki in Autumn (378 yen each for the small, 864 yen each for the large, both include tax)
▲ J'oublie Le Temps original bread molds for the Mount Ibuki. These are Koto ware made locally.

These are but a few of the types of bread offered. Every month at least one new type is created, so I hope when you are in the area you will be sure to drop by.

Total commitment to the entire process from selection of the ingredients to the baking

Speaking of CLUB HARIE, when we visited La Collina Omi-Hachiman previously we explained how committed it was to quality. This is also true for J'oublie Le Temps...as was demonstrated by Chef Imai.

J'oublie Le Temps uses 20 types of domestic and French flour for its products. Even the yeast used to make the dough, the raisins, yogurt, and rye grains are homemade.

▲For example, durum semolina flour, the same that is used to make pasta, is used for the Milk France (left) and the An Butter (right). It looks easy to eat with its slightly yellowish, soft texture and slight sweetness (216 yen tax included for each)

Chef Imai says the most difficult thing is getting the dough to rise based on each day's weather conditions. The temperature and humidity need to be carefully noted when rising the bread because the yeast is alive.

Also at J'oublie Le Temps, close attention is paid to how the bread is baked, the method for each type being different. The pride of the shop is its stone kiln oven that was made in Spain. This is indispensable for baking hard-type breads because the infrared effect of the stone kiln is ideal for making the outside crispy and the inside of the bread fluffy.

▲A craftsman from Spain helped assemble the stone kiln oven.

The skill of the Boulanger is exhibited in the care given to the ingredients used, the timing of the rise of the dough, and how best to bake each type of bread.

A café created expressly for eating delicious bread

The café is located on the second floor which is reached by going up the stairs at the side of the bread shop.

The café pays much attention to a menu offering delicious types of bread. It opens at 9 o’clock in the morning and has a complete morning menu.

▲ Lake Biwa can be seen from the counter. The view is especially delightful at sunset.
▲The fig croissant sandwich (380 yen for take-out, 420 yen for eating inside, both prices include tax)

You can stand at the bar counter and have the barista brew you a cup of coffee and have a dessert, too. Enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee at the counter admiring the view of Lake Biwa is quite pleasant.

▲ Having a pleasant conversation with the barista

The menu has dishes that go well with bread. A very popular one is the Omi Beef Stew. Seasonal vegetables and Omi beef are carefully stewed in a small, heat-proof pot called a cocotte.

▲Omi Beef Stew (2,400 yen for one person, 4,600 yen for two, both prices include tax ※ comes with bread, salad, and olive oil)

The Omi beef used in the stew is Grade A4 ~ A5. The stew is cooked for about 4 hours to make the meat very tender. This beef is delicious even when only lightly cooked, so the stew is indeed a sumptuous dish!

▲ The stew contains large chunks of Omi beef. It is so tender that it melts the moment you put it in your mouth.

The stew comes with all the bread you can eat. To go with the meal there is a broad selection of breads, including sweet ones. What is really amazing is that the staff will offer bread selections they believe would go well with the dish you ordered and after you have finished also suggest slightly sweet ones, too. The bread is so delicious you will certainly want to have more.

▲ Filling preparing bread baskets.

The cocotte dishes vary from day to day. This is the smoked bacon with seasonal vegetables ratatouille. (The daily cocotte changes depending on the season.)
Bacon that has been smoked over cherry wood chips is grilled, seasoned with garlic, oregano, and other herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce. It is a dish the really goes well with bread!

▲Smoked bacon and seasonal vegetables ratatouille (2,000 yen for one person, 3,800 yen for two, both prices include tax; served with bread, salad, and olive oil)

Come in just to buy bread, or stop for a coffee, or maybe stay for a hearty lunch. At J'oublie Le Temps you can do all that and enjoy a magnificent view of Lake Biwa at the same time!

  • CLUB HARIE J'oublie le temps
    クラブハリエ ジュブリルタン
    • Address 1435-83 Matsubara-cho, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0749-21-4477
    • Bread shop hours: weekdays from 9:00 a.m., Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 8:00 a.m.; until the bread is sold out
      Cafe hours: Morning 9:00 a.m. ~ 11:00 a.m.; Lunch 11:00 a.m. ~ 3:00 p.m.
      Closed: Tuesdays (open for business on holidays)

Petit CANAL: Right on the lake - the epitome of cute!

Next we moved on to Omi Hachiman City and came to Nishi-no-Ko [Lake of the West], the largest inner lake of Lake Biwa. It is about a 12-minute car ride from JR Azuchi Station. The charming café Petit CANAL is located in a residential area.

▲Cute beyond words! The shop looks like it came out of a fairytale.
▲You can even have your picture taken inside the large birdcage
▲ This is a photo spot that you shouldn’t pass up. Inside the birdcage you will feel like a small bird

The interior of the shop is just as cute as the exterior! The lamps and greenery here and there have a tasteful design appealing to women.

It perfectly fits the theme of this article which is “Lake View”! I was surprised to see how close the lake was. It almost felt like you could reach out and touch it.

▲Nishi-no-Ko is visible outside the front windows. Students kayaking on the lake

Normally most of the customers are women, but on holidays bikers and bicyclists visiting Lake Biwa and area local residents also frequent Petit CANAL. It is so comfortable here that quite a few come and stay all day from the time the store opens until it closes.

▲The seats on the second floor offer a good view of the lake.
▲On a fine day you can see Mount Mikami – known locally as the ‘Mount Fuji of Omi’

The view from the terrace is superb! It is easy to spend long hours here.

Not only are the location and interior of Petit CANAL wonderful, but so is the food. The couple that owns the place doesn’t want to make anything in a lackadaisical way, so they put a lot of care into the making of the bread, salads, and sauces they create.

One of the dishes they recommend is the Omi beef Hamburg steak. It is a dish that they take great care in its preparation by obtaining the right cut of Omi beef from the butcher.

▲This is the Omi Beef Special Hamburg with Tomato Stew Sauce (1,980 yen, excluding tax; comes with homemade bread, a salad buffet, and drink)

Cutting into the lump Hamburg steak releases delicious juices. The umami of the beef comes across very distinctly.

▲The tomato sauce gives the Hamburg steak just the right tartness

There are four types of dessert and I selected the Petit CANAL cake set. Eating a little bit of so many kinds of pastries, such as tiramisu, baked cheesecake, ice cream, and fruit jellies is most enjoyable.

▲ The Petit CANAL Cake Set (comes with drink, 1,190 yen excluding tax); only 620 yen (excluding tax) when ordered with another menu item.
▲ Tea flavored with catmint grown in the shop's own garden. The carefully grown herb has a strong, clean flavor

The owners do all they can to make the experience a memorable one for their guests. It is their hope that guests will enjoy their time here so much that they will not want to leave but be content to sit and enjoy themselves for long hours.

Blissfully enjoying the view of the calm Nishi-no-Ko lake. This is a good place to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, a place to let your mind wander as you relax and enjoy the fine food and scenery.

▲A view you can enjoy for hours on end
  • Petit CANAL
    プティキャナル
    • Address 5405-24 Shimotoyora, Azuchi-cho, Omi Hachiman City, Shiga Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0748-46-3066
    • Hours: lunch 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:00 p.m. (Last order 2:00 p.m.), café 11:30 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m., dinner 6:00 p.m. ~ 8:30 p.m. (Last order 8:30 p.m.) * reservations required for dinner
      Closed: Mondays and first Tuesday of the month

Madocafe: Fashionable café in Otsu for people in the know

The last place we visited was Madocafe, located about a 10-minute walk from JR Otsu Station. Located on the second floor of the Otsu Civic Hall it is a little bit difficult to find, but that has not prevented if from being very popular with those who know it.

▲You can find the Madocafe sign when you go around the building to the Lake Biwa side.
▲Go up to the second floor

Once inside you can see Lake Biwa through the large glass windows. These are the inspiration for the shop’s name as “mado” means “window” in Japanese. Sofas are arranged in front of the windows to provide clear views of the lakeshore.

▲The soft sunlight coming in through the windows creates a very relaxed atmosphere.
▲ The pleasure boat Michigan can be seen in the distance on Lake Biwa!

The relaxed and comfortable interior will make you feel right at home.

Often, at unscheduled times, concerts, workshops, and other events are held in the café.

▲ The café also sells various items made by local artists.

Madocafe’s menu is changed weekly. The main dish is a Stewed Plate Set which is very popular consisting of five or six items, but the number of servings is limited. On this day it consisted of a fish ball hot pot, Japanese-style quiche, a tofu salad, meat gratin, shrimp and paprika in fried rice vermicelli, and an apple tea compote.

▲The Stewed Plate Set (1,280 yen, including tax) is made with ingredients produced in Shiga Prefecture and lots of seasonal vegetables.

If you bring your own chopsticks (cannot be disposable chopsticks) to Madocafe, in what they call the “My Chopsticks Service”, you get a free lunch drink. It depends on the day, but most customers bring their own chopsticks.

▲ The my Chopsticks Service is a good bargain

Aside from the My Chopsticks Service drink, there are other types of drinks on the menu ordered by customers, the Fruit Punch Soda being one of them.

▲ The Fruit Punch Soda fizzles and swirls with chunks of fruit in it (550 yen including tax). The slightly sweet, tart flavor is very refreshing

Madocafe, where you can spend long, comfortable hours. This comfortable place is loved and enjoyed by a wide range of customers.

▲The sofas are unbelievably comfortable! Once you sit down, you won’t want to get up again.
  • madocafe
    madocafe
    • Address 2nd floor of the Otsu Civic Hall, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
    • Phone Number 077-525-5516
    • Hours: 11:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays until 6:00 p.m.)
      Closed: Mondays and 3rd Tuesday of the month

There are many other cafés around Lake Biwa you might like to visit. Whether you are alone or with friends, these are all fun places to visit. Come and enjoy the views of Lake Biwa and spend relaxing and memorable times here.

Text by:Ishihara Ai

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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