‘Irori Sanzoku’ is about 11 minutes drive from the Sanyo Expressway’s Kuga interchange.
A folk art style restaurant famous for its charcoal fried sanzoku yaki, it bustles with tourists and young people even on weekdays, and on holidays lines form!
I went to the find out why the restaurant is so popular.
The first of Irori Sanzoku charms is its buildings. They allow visitors to feel history in a “now this is the Japan” sort of way. There are three Irori Sanzoku restaurants in Yamaguchi prefecture – this time I visited the one in Kuga.
Within the grounds there are three different restaurants that include the castle tower like Tourian, and the nostalgic Kamado, a restaurant with a large sunken fireplace.
In addition to the exteriors, it goes without saying that there is plenty to see inside. Apparently, non-Japanese tourists in particular enjoy this aspect tremendously.
The second of its charms is that, though it is a restaurant, there are plenty of things to see and do, almost like an amusement park.
Within the restaurant’s vast grounds there is a shrine, a Buddha statue, and even a pond with a waterfall. Outside seating allows you to eat while enjoying the view.
There are also plenty of large-scale set ups and events held throughout the year – no visitor will be bored.
Known as sanzoku cuisine, the third charm is the restaurant’s luxurious food. I recommend sanzoku yaki, which is fried on a charcoal fire, and the large sanzoku rice ball with three fillings. This time, however, I chose the ohagi (a rice ball coated with sweet bean paste).
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it’s about twice the size of an average ohagi. And, quiet apart from that, it’s so delicious that it’s gone before you notice. Once you’ve tried it, it becomes a habit!
And lastly I have to mention the hospitality of all the staff.
In the photograph is Mr. Fujita. He answered our article request without hesitation. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the black outfits’ theme is “bandits (bandit = ‘sanzoku’)”, but actually it’s festival clothing, apparently.
Although Irori Sanzoku is a restaurant, it’s also a paradise-like fun place, which is the result of the staff’s wish for customers to have a good time like being at a festival.
Open in the evenings and closing at dawn, the restaurant’s lit-up exterior and mountain backdrop is a sight to behold!
We recommend this as an additional spot to drop by on your next Yamaguchi sightseeing trip.
Address: 1380-1 Kugamachi, Iwakuni city, Yamaguchi prefecture
URL: http://www.irori-sanzoku.co.jp/ (Japanese)
Open: 9.30-5.00am (last order 4.30am)
Closed: Tuesdays, December 30th & 31st
Open: 10.00-24.00 (last order 23.00)
Closed: Wednesdays, December 30th & 31st
Open: 10.00-24.00 (last order 23.00)
Closed: Thursdays, December 30th & 31st
Access: Around 11-minutes drive from Kuga interchange
The Setouchi Finder Editors
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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