links to APDL and KCC link to KCC homepage link to APDL homepage

Roads of Oku: Home

Inspiration ...

Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North, Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa / Google Map: Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi ("Narrow Road to the Deep North")

Journeys ...

Spring 2004: On the Road in Kansai / Google Map
Summer 2005: Roads of Oku / Google Map
Fall 2006: Where Gods Alight / Google Map
Summer 2007: Hōkūle‘a in Yokohama / Map
Winter 2008: Snow Country / Google Map
Spring 2008: Full Bloom & Festivals / Google Map
Summer 2009: Fireflies & Sweet Fish / Google Map
Fall 2009: North Country Colors / Google Map
Summer 2010: Legends of the Land / Google Map
Spring 2011: On the Far Side of Disaster / Google Map
Summer 2012: Travels in the Fifth Moon / Google Map
Summer 2013: Far Roads: Finishing Touches / Google Map
Summer 2015: Saké-Tasting in the Kingdom of Local Brew

Memorable ...

Roads / Seacoasts & Coastal Roads / Bridges / Ferries / Walks & Hikes / Mountains / Ropeways / Rivers / Waterfalls / Lakes / Trees / Rocks / Caves / Hot Springs / Sakura / Fall Colors / Archaeology and History / Castles / Shrines / Temples / Gardens / Festivals / Food / Drinks
Photography: Dennis Kawaharada and Karen Ono

Note ...

On Driving in Japan

Roads of Oku: Journeys in the Heartland

A collection of essays on Japanese culture, history and literature. Available at (Far Roads Press, 2015).


Updated: Summer 2015

Best Seafood: Hon-maguro

The fatty cuts of hon-maguro (bluefin tuna), served at Oma, Aomori

Best meat: Marbled Beef

Matsuzaka Beef, ready for grilling, M's, Osaka

Matsuzaka Beef sushi, rare, M's, Osaka

Grilling Yonezawa Beef, with mushrooms, onions, and pepper, Yudono, Yamagata

Seafood and Fish

Uni (sea urchin egg sacs), Otaru, Hokkaidō

Uni, Hakodate, Hokkaidō

Hairy Crab, Sapporo, Hokkaidō

Grilled King Crab, Hachinohe, Aomori

Queen Crab (Snow Crab) sashimi, Kyōto

Queen Crab (Snow Crab), cooked in broth (shabu-shabu), Kyōto

Marinated Abalone, Kofu, Yamanashi

Grilled Abalone, Shimoda, Shizuoka

Assorted sashimi, with fresh wasabi root, Mohee, Shizuoka City

Assorted sashimi, Kaisenya Negibozu, Niigata City, Niigata

Assorted sashimi, Shiosai Kirara Shokichi, Ako, Hyogo

Lobster sashimi, Ise, Mie

Lobster in miso soup, Toba, Mie

Live ika (squid), Hakodate, Hokkaidō

Ika sashimi, Hakodate, Hokkaidō

Grilled hokke (Atka mackerel), Hakodate, Hokkaidō

Freshwater Fish

Deep-fried trout, Kani, Aichi

Ayu: A relative of the trout, Ayu is served during the summer when it's caught using long poles or by a traditional method of using cormorants (ukai).

Opening day of Ukai (cormorant-fishing) season, June 1, 2009, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi

Ayu from the fishing handed over to the ryokan staff to cook for breakfast

Ayu for breakfast

Roasting ayu, Tedori, Ishikawa


Shrimp and vegetable tempura, Kura, Matsumoto, Nagano

Fish Tempura, Sapporo, Hokkaidō

Pork, Chicken, and Sausages

Grilled pork , Sapporo, Hokkaido

Grilled chicken, Toyama

Grilling chicken, mushrooms, and peppers, Tsutaya, Yudono, Yamagata

Grilled wings, Chochin-ya, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Grilled home-made pork sausages, Hops and Herbs, Kofu, Yamanashi

Tonkatsu, Haneda Airport, Tōkyō


Buckwheat field, Izumo, Shimane

Soba (buckwheat noodles), with tempura shrimp and mountain plants, Hakkaisan Brewery, Niigata

Udon: Japanese-style wheat noodles, Kyōto-style (vegetarian)

Udon, covered with beef and shrimp tempura, Kagawa (Sanuki), Shikoku
Shoyu Ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles) with fatty pork, Tōkyō

Spicy Ramen, Hamamatsu, Aichi

Mountain Plants

Tsuruoka, Yamagata. Summer 2010

Fresh mountain greens, Tsutaya, Yudono, Yamagata

Pickled mountain plants, Tsutaya, Yudono, Yamagata

Grilled bamboo shoots, Tsutaya, Yudono, Yamagata

Wasabi, Tsukiji, Tōkyō

Planting wasabi in a mountain stream bed below Joren Falls, Izu, Shizuoka. April 2008. Izu is noted for its production of wasabi. A stand in the parking lot was selling wasabi ice cream, which was refreshing after the walk down to the falls.


Kaiseki dining consists of a set course of regional foods and drinks, with ingredients varying by the seasons.

Kitayama, Niigata City, Late May 2015: A Kitayama, a restaurant run by Ishimoto Brewery, which produces the legendary saké Koshi no Kanbai ("Winter Plum Tree of Koshi"), a kaiseki served to go with their saké:

Otōshi, made with small leaves and stems of water shield, an aquatic plant, floating in a lake-like clear, chilled dashi (soup) around a center of foamy tororo (mountain yam)—a cool summer treat

Appetizer:a sea snail, steamed soy beans, konnyaku (yam cake) topped with miso, and a sushi made with pickled mioga (ginger shoot)

Saké: jumai daiginjo and daiginjo

Raw: squid, with seared tuna (tataki)

Grilled: suzuki, or sea bass, garnished with lemon and a pickled ginger stalk

Simmered: bamboo shoots and snapper, with yuba, or tofu skin, and fu, or wheat gluten

Dessert: sorbet flavored with kasu, or saké lees; shochu and plum wine

Auberge Tosayama, Kochi, Shikoku, Summer 2009: The ryokan in Tosayama, a small valley just north Kochi, serves a new–age kaiseki.

Appetizer: stewed whelk, green pea tofu, shallot with uncured ham, Japanaese radish, stewed sweet potato flavored with lemon; homemade ume (plum) liquer

Local saké

Horse mackerel, flatfish, prawn

Simmered yurine and scallop cake with urchin flavored with ginger, pumkin, and radish

Mountain yam and local yomoogi (edible wild plants), gratinated sea bass, fruit tomato, asparagus, sardine, home-grown vegetables

Jellied moray eel, grape, petite tomato, oreginao and leek

Green pea tempura, deep-fried kidney beasn with two color sesame, with shiso labiate salt

Cockle with egg vinegar

Rice with egg, clam miso soup, local vegnetables (mitsuba, nameko mushroom, water shleld).
Missing: pickled daikon, ume, and vegetables.

Dessert: warm sweet read bean soup and white sticky rice dumpllings, local strawberry and orange, home-made sponge cake with honey, mountain_farmed sencha (green tea)