Craving for sushi but don’t know where to go? Want to visit a place that no one really knows about yet? Visit Yamazushi, a small restaurant in Higashi Hiroshima City where you can enjoy not only a delicious sushi meal, but a wonderful experience that not even the locals know much about yet.
When I first went to Yamazushi, my moment of joy wasn’t just a moment, the moments came first when I was driving up the highway, staring at the mountains going by (or ‘slightly looking’ – I was the driver). It came back again when I was driving up the long winding roads, blissfully manoeuvring the car through the green countryside of Hiroshima. Honestly speaking, it’s quite the same when going anywhere in Hiroshima, but in the end, driving through Hiroshima is one of the best experiences one can have, and is worth mentioning every time. I personally don’t really explore the area where Yamazushi is located either, so it was a lovely chance to discover this part of the prefecture. Before I knew it, I was driving down a line of Japanese houses with red tiles for a roof, turned a corner, and was suddenly greeted by a quaint restaurant, slightly hidden by a white wall.There was a noren （のれん、shop curtain) slightly wavering in the breeze and gently inviting me inside. I wasn’t even at the restaurant yet, but the Yamazushi experience had already started from the drive.
The moment I stepped through the shop curtains, I was welcomed by a beautiful Japanese garden with colourful carps wavering in the shallow ponds. What’s most interesting is that even though it’s a scene I might have seen many times before, it somehow looked even more magical than any other time. It was probably because the restaurant had been built to feel somewhat secluded, so when I entered, it really felt like I was entering another realm.
It might be hard to believe, but I’ve taken quite a few guests here and they’ve said they felt the exact same thing.
What also makes this place quite appealing is that most of the tables are separated into individual rooms, so it’s easy to enjoy a peaceful meal even if there might be a fair amount of people. Last time I went, I managed to spend an entire hour or two without really meeting anyone else, and that is what makes it the perfect place to have a casual or formal lunch/dinner. On top of this, most of the rooms face the garden and the doors are left wide open, so it’s nice for enjoying the view and enjoying the meal. The picture isn’t the best, but I hope it shows how close you can enjoy the garden outside.
*Most of the rooms are facing the garden but it may be best to reserve in advance.
Sake and Foods
But of course, the best thing about this place is the food… and the sake. I’ve mostly been the designated driver whenever I visited here, but I did get to try the sake one time, and it was one of the most amazing feelings to have a cup of Nihonshu by a Japanese garden in the middle of the day. They don’t have a huge selection, but I do recommend the 賀茂鶴 (Kamozuru), a Nihonshu from Hiroshima that is quite sweet but also very easy to drink. It’s a great drink to start off with… after a beer.
In addition: the drinks are served beautifully and elegantly like the picture below.
Usually, when I am eating at a restaurant in the mountains, I prefer to stay away from eating fish, considering it’s probably fresher when having it at a place by the sea. Yet Yamazushi is one of the few places I know that genuinely breaks this rule. Each sushi was just so fresh that it instantly melted in my mouth.
Here, here is the purest moment of joy. It’s the highlight.
I’ve driven a long way, I’ve sat down at this amazing seat by a beautiful Japanese garden and I’ve had my first taste of their delicious sushi. It is a pleasure I can not really describe with words.
There’s also another reason why I can promise Yamazushi is an amazing restaurant – the egg sushi. Usually, the egg sushi (omelet) is just a fairly cheap, sweet sushi dish that children mostly eat, but I promise the omelet sushi here is different. It’s cooked at just the right amount, with a slightly sweet but savory taste that I couldn’t forget for a long time after coming home. It’s simply a dish I’ve never had before, and might never have again.
They have quite a lot of plates, but I recommend the やま寿司定食 (it’s a bit like a course meal but not as heavy), because it comes with: a small appetizer (changes every time), fried tofu (揚げ豆腐), sushi, and dessert. I also recommend getting a Sashimi plate if going to lunch with a lot of friends (I say this because the course meal is already quite filling in itself). The menu changes every time, but the picture below is showing: octopus, sea urchin, salmon and shrimp.
Carps (koi) are an essential garden pet when it comes to Japanese gardens, and they’re also the sweetest, naive fish you’ll ever meet. They’re just so used to humans, that if I put my hand close to one, they’ll quickly rise to the surface and bob their heads up and down because they think I have food. From a young age, I’ve been taught to pet carps as if they were dogs rather than fish. They’ll even chase after anything you throw in the pond (please don’t throw anything other than food, they’ll eat it, seriously). If you’re new to Japan and you’ve never touched one, please give it a try – they’re a bit slimy but very friendly!
The ponds at Yamazushi are also inhabited by a variety of carps, but I just wanted to point out one thing: they’re the biggest carps I’ve ever seen, and they keep growing every time I go. It might have nothing to do with the restaurant itself, but just coming to look at how large they are is worth the visit. Seriously.
Yamazushi is a small restaurant in the middle of the mountains in Hiroshima, and it’s the perfect place to go to relax for the day. If you’re looking for a new experience, or just a new place to eat sushi, come here, because they’ll give you more than what you’re looking for.
You can visit Yamazushi by public transport: the closest bus stop is Higashishiwa, and it is about a 4 minute walk from here.
However, I do recommend renting a car if you have a driver’s license as it is much easier and because the view on the way is spectacular!
The restaurant is in the middle of nowhere, but there are a few farms around the area. I visited Uenohara Ranch Canmore Gelateria after eating at Yamazushi to have some ice cream and to meet the sheep and goats. I can not express how relaxing it was to be able to enjoy nature to the fullest extent, and I recommend you plan a day visiting both!