You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!

Hidden down a road, a little ways away from the main port of Nishinoshima, Shimane prefecture, is a tiny sushi restaurant.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Approaching the front of the establishment, you can even see the owner’s laundry hanging to dry in the upstairs window. But inside, Zen Sushi will amaze you.

A little mom and pop establishment, the owners prepare fresh sushi made with fish caught in the waters of the Oki Islands. Peering through the front windows, you can enjoy views of the turquoise waters that these fish call home.

The sushi we ate here is hands down the best sushi we’ve ever eaten. Here are a few photos of the wonderful food we enjoyed:

^Zen Chirashi-zushi, the house specialty.
Think of chirashi-zushi as deconstructed sushi. It’s a bowl of vinegar-seasoned rice topped with sashimi and other seafood.

^ Beautiful! The brightly colored spheres are ikura, salmon roe.

^Nigiri-sushi with the perfect amount of wasabi. Just enough to give you a bit of a kick, but not so much that it overwhelms your palette. Delicious!

What I love most about sushi is the freshness of the dish. Traditionally, it isn’t smothered in sweet sauces or doused in spices like many western dishes. When eating sushi, you are able to taste each ingredient; the vinegar of the rice, the saltiness of the fish, and the kick of the wasabi. So simple. So pure. So deceivingly difficult to get right.

^Mozuku, a type of stringy, slimy Japanese seaweed. It’s flavored with vinegar to give it some extra slimy goodness. One of our friends told us that last year, the mozoku didn’t grow well, but this year there are tons of it. We’ve already encountered it twice while eating at restaurants on the islands.

^Waiting at the port to take the boat back to Chibu.

^The perfect end to a great day. Tiramisu ice cream while we take the 20 minute ride back to our island.

The sushi at Zen Sushi was the freshest fish we’ve ever eaten at a restaurant; not quite the freshest sushi we’ve ever eaten because in Chibu, we’re able to immediately cut up and eat the fish we catch.  I love taking a boat to the sushi restaurant, viewing the ocean while eating dinner, and taking a boat back home.  It makes me appreciate my dependency on the ocean for transportation and food and reminds me to be grateful.

Images: Khoa Dinh