Kochi’s roads take you through breathtaking coastlines and stunning mountain landscapes, but perhaps it’s along the side roads that you’ll find the real hidden gems. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these little roads, each of them holding the promise of a hidden valley, picturesque postcard village or some memorable encounter
One of my favorite side roads is Route 101, which runs along the Nonegawa River from the surf hot spot of Toyo Town in eastern Kochi. The road takes you through classic countryside views to a tiny cluster of houses where you will find guesthouse Noneya. This traditional house, equipped with modern amenities, is a fantastic escape for those who are looking to get away from it all
Whiling away the hours drinking tea on the engawa (a kind of narrow wooden deck that runs along the side of a traditional Japanese house) and strolling along the forest road that follows the crystal-clear water of the Nonegawa River is a tonic for the soul. However, without a doubt, my fondest memory of staying here is making kokera-sushi with a group of local grandmas
Kokera-sushi is a local dish, flavored with locally-grown yuzu citrus juice, that is pressed in wooden boxes. It is traditionally served at times of celebration and shared among large groups. It’s not difficult to make, but, much to the amusement of my teachers, I couldn’t come close to their presentation skills. But at the end of the day, what matters is taste and sure enough, it was delicious! Truly authentic kokera-sushi includes thinly-sliced egg and pieces of locally-caught mackerel, but, with vegans in mind, the ladies in Nonegawa have developed a version of the dish without animal ingredients. It looks and tastes just as good as the original
If you visit in the autumn, you can also help harvest yuzu from Noneya’s nearby citrus grove, which is another great way to have some fun with the locals
A heartfelt thank you to the owner of Noneya, Ms. Matsumoto, for letting us share some of their beautiful photos!