It’s a trek to get to this rural location, but it’s worth it. 

Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa recently went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to the southern island of Yakushima, which meant he was a man with no plan, relying simply on the knowledge of locals while he was there.

Seiji loves himself a good bowl of soba, so when it came time to eat lunch, he asked around for a good recommendation, and was surprised when he received the same reply from locals, bus drivers, and backpackers alike, and that reply was “Matsutake“.

With such a glowing reputation, Seiji immediately set out to eat at Matsutake, and when he found out that it was located in Kurio, the farthest place from the main hub of activity around the island’s ferry terminal, it only made him more excited for the adventure.

▼ Seiji hopped on a bus that only runs once an hour to the region, and enjoyed glimpses of the sea during the journey.

When he hopped off at his stop, it was still a bit of a walk to the restaurant, but with views like this, he didn’t mind the walk at all.

The rural seaside scenery was idyllic, with mountain views and fields and old houses lining the country road.

As he passed by the Kurio River on the outskirts of the village, he saw children playing and jumping into the crystal clear water from a low bridge.

▼ The sights and sounds of summer in rural Japan.

Before he knew it, Seiji had arrived at Matsutake, which looked like a secluded hideout.

Located by a stream, and with a parking area that looked inconspicuous from the road, Seiji walked up to the front door, but he stopped when he saw a “private reservation” sign out front. After coming this far, Seiji broke into a sweat at the possibility that the place was booked for a private party, so he opened the door and asked if they were open.

Thankfully, the owner was there, and he said they were open and happy to serve him, as long as he wasn’t in a rush.

Apparently, the old man who owns the restaurant is running the place on his own, so time runs at a slower pace here. That’s part of the appeal of island living, though, and Seiji had an hour to kill before his next bus, so it worked out perfectly.

▼ With an interior as homey and laid-back as this, Seiji would be happy to spend a whole afternoon here if he could.

A couple of locals entered the restaurant after Seiji, and they too said they weren’t in a rush. The slow-life is something our city boy was definitely warming up to, so he casually perused the handwritten menu, which is said to change daily.

▼ There were alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages listed on the left, and hot and cold soba, on the right, priced between 600 and 1,250 yen (US$4.32-$9.01).

▼ There were also a few sets, that came with soba and a rice bowl, for 1,100 yen, and an Unadon (Eel Bowl) Set for 1,550 yen.

Seiji ordered the Tendon Set for 1,100 yen, with an extra helping of soba for an additional 100 yen. Surprisingly, it only took ten minutes for his order to arrive, which isn’t long in Seiji’s book, and it looked beautiful.

According to the owner, this is a popular set, and as soon as Seiji took his first bite, he understood why. The tempura consisted of prawn and vegetables like carrot and shimeji mushrooms, and it was lightly fried to perfection.

▼ Delicious!

The buckwheat soba was a standout — the thinness of the noodles was impressive, allowing them to be slurped up in big, satisfying mouthfuls, and the water used to make them was sourced from a nearby spring.

▼ Light and refreshing, like a clear mountain stream.

The dipping broth had a deep soy sauce flavour, which came to life with the addition of the grated radish, which was served with wasabi on the side.

▼ After experiencing the sights and sounds of summer to get here, this was the taste of summer.

Seiji finished his meal as the distant sound of cicadas hummed outside the windows.

Eating soba in the middle of summer in a tatami room in an old Japanese house forgotten by time is an experience Seiji will never forget. Like eating the mysterious modama sashimi, it’s something everyone should try on a visit to Yakushima.

Restaurant Information

Teuchi Soba Matsutake / 手打ちそば松竹
Address: Kagoshima-ken, Kumage-gun, Yakushima-cho, Kurio 1684
Open: 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. every day

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]