What a treat! Kawayuka Isoyoshi is a restaurant where I felt like I was back in New Zealand - feasting with a group of trampers with well travelled stoves in a wooden terrace-like hut back in the Orongorongo Valley - but the difference was were far too well dressed and we had cushions to sit on.
The rushing of the Minoh-Gawa [river] just metres below, and walkers on the trail opposite was enough to send me back home to the great outdoors. The custom of taking shoes off inside for meals added to that feeling - like taking off your soiled tramping boots before getting a meal ready.
Mayor Kurata and our hosts played cooks while we ate another healthy meal and learned how to cook our dinner Japanese BBQ style. Fresh veges plus marbled beef combined with sauces in a hot pot then dipped in raw mixed egg "for extra taste" equals one tasty dinner.
If you're ever in Minoh - this is one place you need to visit day or night. It's half way up the walkway to Minoh Falls from Minoh train station, perched above the river and open in Spring and Summer.
I am getting how Japan is one of the healthiest nations on the planet. I've eaten so well during my time in Japan. So incredibly well, yet it's no diet - it's just everyday food. Our breakfasts have included salads, plenty of vegetables and fish too.
My favourite meal has been the lunch served up to 600 students at Saito No Oka Gakuen [Primary School]. JPY220 bought us each a fine tasty meal - that's only NZD2.70. Outstanding!
The students had facilities to brush their teeth after lunch too. Would we ever see that in New Zealand?
I'm not big on seafood, but I think I just may have been converted during my time here!
BY JAMES LAMB, HMHFT SECRETARY