We raise ayu, also known as sweetfish, in culture ponds from fry in Lake Biwa.
When our production started in 1957 in the lakeside city of Hikone, we were the first to begin farming ayu in Japan. Since then, we've made ongoing advances to raise ayu of the highest quality. Our persistent efforts have been rewarded with much praise from both domestic and international customers. We take great pride in our ayu as they're safe, delicious, and flavorful with a nice firm texture and wonderful aroma; they're even better than wild ayu.
We use only the fry of Lake Biwa Ayu*. Compared with farm-hatched ayu, our aquaculture produces hearty, healthy ayu with fine, smooth scales, and soft skin and bones for excellent texture.
* Lake Biwa Ayu was registered in 2017 by the Japan Patent Office as Reginal Collective Trademark.
The nutrient-rich mineral spring water that we use flows from the Suzuka Mountains, emerging from depths of 300 meters underground, and is among the Select Best Waters of Japan. This water helps us slowly raise the ayu over 5 to 6 months, whereas other farms often raise them for only 4 or 5 months.
The ponds in our farm are equipped with a system to generate a constant current flow, providing conditions similar to a natural upstream river environment. This helps us raise ayu that are lean and firm with a delicate, refined flavor. We found from scientific testing that our ayu have almost half the fat percentage of other farmed ayu, with fat levels similar to wild ayu.
We use a specially blended feed, adding the blue algae, spirulina, and propolis to a special deodorized fish powder. This helps to raise good, healthy ayu with fantastic aroma, rivaling the quality of those found in the wild.
We make a wide variety of fish products, such as tsukudani. Valuing the importance of manual methods, a great deal of care goes into each product. Blessed by the natural abundance of Lake Biwa, we are committed to providing safe, quality products to our customers, while constantly working toward further improvements. With expertise cultivated over 50 years, we are still committed to providing fish products with the same time-tested, delicious flavors.
At the restaurant in the Hikone Kyobashi location of our Ayu no Mise Kimura shop, we serve ayu and freshwater fish specialties using koayu (small ayu) and biwamasu (biwa salmon) from Lake Biwa as well as our farm-raised ayu. We also operate Unagiya Gennai, a restaurant serving eel specialties such as hitsumabushi, a dish of slow-grilled domestically raised eel.