This verb, which means ‘to show hospitality’, has been used in this region since olden times. It is also apparently used when saying farewell to guests: “egawarukattanee” (‘we weren’t able to show you hospitality’). Modesty and consideration for others are clearly very much a part of the local culture, as they are in Japan as a whole.
Surpassing time, the feelings contained within these words have been passed down from generation to generation…
The people welcoming guests with such ‘egao’ (hospitality) are Mr. and Mrs. Wada, and their friend Ms. Ohara who run “Nagomi Tei”, which is located in Soryo-cho, Shobara city, Hiroshima prefecture.
Using the main room of the couple’s 200-year-old home, they run Nagomi Tei so guests can enjoy “Satoyama kaiseki” (JPY2500 including tax), among other dishes.
The colorful and fresh dishes utilize a myriad of edible wild plants gathered nearby, as well as local vegetables and river fish, among others.
We recommend the “Satoyama no Gochisou Gohin-mori” (The Satoyama feast: 5-dish assortment).
The ‘shibukawani’ is made of chestnuts collected from a hill behind their house, the ‘kinpira’ is made out of Japanese knotweed (cooked in a mixture of sugar and soy sauce), the thistle is simmered in water and soy sauce, the bracken is pickled in wine, and the minnow are caught in the local river.
When you ask for the secret behind the delicious flavors, Mrs. Wada answers with a smile that, “It’s just a little bit of fiddling with ingredients you can find anywhere.” Pickling bracken in wine using consommé and tomato sauce among other things for flavor is a daily repetition of trial and error.
Mrs. Wada inherited the flavors of her mother who turned 94 in 2014. It seems that Mrs. Wada’s “fiddling” has led to a charming spice!
“Ingredients you can find anywhere” also means “anywhere in this region”, so actually they’re ingredients that you rarely have a chance to try in everyday life.
They are dishes filled with wisdom of living at Satoyama (an area between mountains and valleys) that skillfully accepts the blessings of the mountains.
And then, Nagomi Tei’s prized rice…
At Nagomi Tei, rice is cooked on an eco-stove, which is a small-sized rocket stove that allows rice to cook in around 20 minutes by burning 5 to 6 pieces of wood. This eco-stove was also hand-made by Mr. Wada after being developed by Mr. Noriaki Nishiyama.
The rice cooked on the strong fire is all fluffy.
Apparently there are many people who are surprised that “It’s unlike the rice we normally eat!” This time I had the chestnut rice filled with chestnuts gathered from the nearby hillside.
“Our chestnut rice is full of chestnuts. You wonder if you’re eating rice with chestnuts or chestnuts with rice”, Mrs. Wada says and laughs!
In addition, there is the steak made of the local Shobara product, ‘konnyaku’. Mr. Wada’s homemade smoked dishes, soup with wood cauliflower mushrooms gathered from the Shobara area, and Mrs. Wada’s homemade apple cake, among others.
Apparently there is a customer who holds their child’s birthday party at the store every year.
Shobara city, located in the northwest part of Hiroshima prefecture, is a place where the beautiful Satoyama scenery and traditional culture are still alive and well.
In spring you’ll see the winter aconite (winter plant with yellow flowers); at the beginning of summer, the new green leaves and fireflies; in autumn the autumn foliage, and in winter you can enjoy the snowscape.
Altogether a place of abundant nature, delicious food and heart-warming hospitality.
How about a moment of relaxation in a place that feels like a second hometown?
Satoyama kaiseki (JPY2500, tax included)
Includes: The Satoyama feast, 5-dish assortment, pumpkin salad, persimmon pickled with vinegar, taro shinjo, konnyaku steak, smoked foods, simmered deer, chestnut rice, wood cauliflower mushroom soup, pickled vegetables, apple cake and coffee (contents change according to season)
Address: 1000 Kiya, Soryo-cho, Shobara City, Hiroshima Prefecture
Access: Chuugoku Expressway, 15 minutes from the Shobara Interchange
Business hours: Lunch served every Saturday, Sunday and Monday (reservation necessary at least 3 days in advance. Reservations for 2 to 15 people possible. Closed in January and August.)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yukiyo Utsunomiya
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