Are you with a group and finding it difficult to get into a restaurant? Or just want to try a taste of food presented in a traditional Japanese way? Why not head out of Hirafu to the junction of 343 and route 5 and try Japanese Kitchen, otherwise known as Bouken.
The Japanese Kitchen is housed in an old school that closed around 20 years ago and now operates as a family or group accommodation. The Japanese Kitchen’s main attraction to international visitors is their themed restaurant that is open for a classical Japanese set lunch or dinner.
It is essential to book when having the dinner course, as you are required to decide on your set menu one day in advance. You can choose between whether you will have the chef’s course, a selection of the freshest foods from market – ¥4,500, meat/sausage – ¥2,800, fish – ¥3,500, or vegetarian/hotpot ¥3,500).
Our group of 8 were picked up from our accommodation by the friendly owner Anan-san who helped us onto a large bus, which we piled into with the boys jostling for the back seat, setting the tone for the fun, school days theme of the evening. We were dropped off at the front steps of the school and greeted by Tomato, a docile and friendly 6 year old St Bernard dog whose likeness forms part of the Bouken logo and is somewhat synonymous with the restaurant. The walls of the entrance were still covered with the children’s paintings, mostly of local birds, and the three pointed school motto “We love birds; we learn about birds; we protect birds!” written in beautiful kanji. My partner cheekily remarked he now understood why they didn’t have a chicken course.
On wandering down the hallway looking for the restaurant we passed a hallway of classrooms, which are now guest rooms. We felt a little lost, bringing back some memories of our first day at school until we finally came to a door clearly labelled ‘restaurant’. The room, also previously a classroom, had a peaceful ambience about it with a fire burning at the back wall.
Our places were perfectly set and waiting for us, on traditional Japanese washi paper and chopsticks wrapped with matching paper and a leaf. My chef’s selection course was an array of interesting Japanese vegetable dishes presented on traditional Japanese plates. The set courses varied amongst our group but were always very tasty, traditional and interesting. The pick of the dishes were the grilled meats, an enticing selection of sashimi from the fish course, some fresh and extra crisp tempura, an individual hotpot from the vegetarian course that cooks to perfection in front of your eyes, and a traditional Japanese sweet cake and cream dessert. A night at the Japanese Kitchen will provide exactly what the name suggests: A sample of traditional Japanese food presented and cooked the way it is meant to be.
The evening set course ranges from ¥2,800 to ¥4,500. Advance bookings are essential. Open from 6.00pm-10.00pm. Tel 0136-22-3759.
Remember to wear a light jacket to keep on through dinner as it is a little cold inside the restaurant.
Housed in an 80-year-old school house, Bouken serves traditional homemade fare made with local produce. We recommend the sake and assortment of grilled dishes in the irori goya.
Open daily (year round) –
- Lunch 11:00 – 14:00 (Sun, Mon, Tues only)
- Dinner by appointment only
Phone: +81 0136-22-3759