A-kyu Gourmet is a project started in the Yukiguni region that aims to protect the unique food cultures that can be found here. Many of the ryokans featured on Timeless Yukiguni are involved.
The name of the project is a play on words about gourmet that will be around forever, and it features ryokans, restaurants, and producers who are passing on traditional knowledge to following generations. This can be related to ingredients, styles of preparation, or any other important gourmet related process.
The site is in Japanese but the images for each of the establishments are mouth-wateringly good. All the ryokans have had to go through a testing process to prove that their cuisine and techniques fulfill the criteria.
One of the highlights of a stay in a Japanese ryokan is always the meals, and food is often cited as top of the list of why visitors wanted to come to Japan. This project is not just about great food but recognizes the importance of food in the culture of the region. A big part of the Timeless Yukiguni project is introducing establishments that have drawn inspiration from the history and traditions of the region, while keeping them alive for future generations to enjoy. The food culture of the area is an important aspect of this, and several ryokan offer additional tours that let you experience the gastronomy of the area close up. Foraging tours are a great way to experience what was a seasonal activity for many throughout the ages. At Satoyama Jujo you can take an afternoon stroll with one of the chefs who shows you the edible plants that are growing within reach. These will feature on the dinner menu later in the evening. It is also possible to tour their fermentation and smoking huts. Trips to local food producers who still use the traditional methods are also eye-opening and a direct link to the past. Ryugon also offers a cooking class where you learn how to prepare some traditional dishes alongside a local lady while cooking rice in the old-style wood-fired pot. Several places use the snow in winter to preserve ingredients which is said to bring out the sweetness in certain vegetables.
Exploring the gastronomy of Yukiguni is a delicious way to deepen your understanding of the Snow Country area.