Satoyama Jujo is highly regarded for its cuisine, and rightly so. Some of the ingredients on your plate as you enjoy your dinner at the ryokan may have been picked half a year before and been carefully tended in one of their specialist preparation areas ever since. There is a strong emphasis on seasonal and local here, with the delicate flavors of the plants that grow on the local mountains being given the chance to shine.
You can head out with the chefs for a short walk at 4pm daily and learn about the edible plants that are growing by the side of the paths and at the edge of the forests. The ingredients that are gathered will be used in the evening meal. As you walk and gather you can see how the plants grow, feel their texture, savor the fragrance, and also try them in their raw state. The chefs and other staff go on longer expeditions to harvest the bounty of the mountains which is changing throughout the year.
In the car park below the main building is a strange shaped hut covered in straw. The smell as you approach gives it away as the smoke house. In winter a similar structure will be covered in snow and chills various ingredients acting as a natural refrigerator while bringing out the sweetness of ingredients stored inside. There is also an area dedicated to fermentation. All these are traditional techniques that have been used in Yukiguni for generations.. Satoyama Jujo are keeping them alive and showcasing them to their guests. There is a belief that the food on the plate can reflect the local history, traditions, and culture, and in the opposite direction, these have directly influenced the food. It is incredibly hard work, and both labor and time intensive but one to which the ryokan and its chefs are fully committed. The cuisine here is fascinating blend of the old and the modern.
The star of the show is the local rice. It is known as the finest in Japan and as such is given pride of place on the menu.
You also couldn't ask for a nicer place to dine on such great cuisine, or stay afterwards. A trip here will satisfy on so many levels.
For a behind the scenes look at life at Satoyama Jujo, check out their Instagram page too