Activities - Nagano Cuisine

Edo Bento & Gardens at the Tanaka Residence
Tanaka Residence : 豪商の館 信州・須坂 田中本家博物館

Eat as a Wealthy Edo-Era Merchant Did with Tanaka House’s Re-Created Edo Bento.

Northern Nagano


This is your chance to eat a 300-year old bento lunch! The curator of the Tanaka Honke Museum found an Edo-era recipe book and painstakingly researched and recreated the menu. The museum set in what was the residence of one of Suzaka City's wealthiest merchant families offers a bento lunch featuring the recreated recipes.


Experience Edo-era Nagano's culinary heritage through the recreated Edo Bento at the Tanaka Residence museum in Suzaka City. After discovering a 300-year old recipe book in the museum's archives, the curator researched the meanings of the preparations and ingredients with the help of Tokyo University. It's a fascinating look at the Nagano's food culture. For example, the salmon on the menu could have come from the Chikuma River as 300 years ago there were no dams keeping the fish from climbing up this far from the Sea of Japan. However, the wealthy Tanaka merchant family likely would have had salmon caught at sea and packed in salt brought in by mules over the mountains. Sea-caught salmon have a higher fat content than fish swim up the river. That is just one of the stories behind Tanaka Residence's Edo Bento.
In addition to the restaurant, there is also the museum and the gardens to enjoy.
The Tanaka Honke museum is an amazing place. It was the residence of Suzaka City’s Edo-era merchant family. The buildings and gardens will please lovers of Japanese traditional architecture and formal gardens. Besides, that, the museum’s artifacts give you a glimpse into the lifestyle of this wealthy merchant family. Some samples of the fascinating stories that can be gleamed from curator Tanaka-san’s explanation:

*What was the 2nd storehouse originally used for? (Hint: the ceiling was stained a pitch black.)

Answer: sake making (smoke from cooking the sake rice blackened the


*What was the room next to the vegetable garden for? (Hint: There is a channel with water running down the middle.) Answer: Mill room (there used to be a water wheel there.)

*In the tea items display, there was a bowl painted with a design of an elephant surrounded by monks. If you see it, try to guess how many monks are there.

*There was a lidded bowl amongst the tea display. It’s exterior was completely black exterior, but open the lid and the inside was decoreted with and autumn color leaves.

*The dolls in the antique toy display had caucausian, not Japanese features. Why? Because they were for export to Western countries. In the past, toy export was as big an industry as car export is today.

The buildings, gardens and museum displays, make a fitting complement to the Edo-era bento lunch.

The Tanaka Honke museum is an absolute treat of Nagano prefecture. Considering their somewhat off the beaten path location, burried in Suzaka city, the museum’s collection and gardens are extermely impressive. While most tourist books would usually point to Kyoto for traditional Japanese architecture and material culture, for good reason considering the expanse and variety, but within central Japan, particularly Nagano – the Tanaka Honke is a suprisingly refined delight. Also though cultural explanations of the museum content is limited to predominantly Japanese descriptions, the collection is designed well with the residences’ architectural features to still guide visual interest.


  • 40 people
Museum hours 9:00-17:00 (Apr.-Nov.), 9:30-16:30 (Dec.-Feb.),9:30-16:30(Mar.)
Closed Tuesdays (or following day if holiday). Closed for extended times around New Years and for exhibit changes.
Cost / Price of Admission
700 yen (children 250-350) for museum admission. Edo Bento 4,200.
Time Required
1hour for lunch + 1 hour for the museum
Required(Minimum 5 days in advance for Edo Bento. By Telephone (Japanese language only) or E-mail. Put "Edo Bento Reservation" in the title, and include your requested date and time, # of people any food allergies, and credit card information. (Minimum 4 people for the Edo Bento lunch.))
# of Participants
Foreign Languages
(English brochure available.)
Luggage Storage


Limited English explanation. Hopefully our explanation above will help appreciate the museum and Edo bento. All facilities no-smoking. Nearby Garyu Park and historical Kura (earthen-walled store house) district are also worth seeing.


tel : +81(0)26-248-8008fax : +81(0)26-245-4780 Official site

Access / Location

By Train
From Suzaka Station(Nagano Dentetsu Nagano Line), 5 min by taxi.
By Car
From Suzaka Nagano East IC, Go east on Route 403, turn right onto Route 58 then left on to the Kitashinshu Kudamono Kaido (N. Nagano Fruit Hwy) at Kami-Hachimachi signal. Cross the river and turn left onto Route 406 (Sakatamachi signal) for 600m. (15min, 6km)
476 Kokumachi, Suzaka 382-0085

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