Many places in Japan serve a “morning set”. In Kashimo there are a few places to have these sets. The most popular is the Yurakukan at the Michi No Eki Kashimo. They serve a morning set menu of coffee, tea, toast and an egg. I like going down at this time of day more for the socializing than the food but if you are smoke sensitive, it might not be the best for you.
The dining area is spacious, accommodating around 30 or so people with comfort and while it does have windows facing the road, the view also includes the village and the hills beyond, while on the other side of the restaurant, one can sit on small tree-trunk stump ‘seats’ conveniently made more pleasant to sit on by means of a small soft pillow, and look out on the river that runs behind the building. Add Springtime cherry blossom filled trees and one has a view that would be hard to equal.
Starting around 11:00, the real magic begins with lunch. The restaurant becomes non-smoking and they begin serving local specialities.
The Keichan set, 950 yen, is made of chicken, onions, garlic, cabbage in a yummy sweet sauce and comes with a side of rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables and tomato juice. Keichan is cooked right at the table on your own little hibachi grill. The chicken sizzles while the vegetables crackle. Within five minutes your senses are filled and it is time to dive in. Keichan can be found in many parts of Nakatsugawa and in Gero city to the north, but Kashimo people prize themselves on this dish and consider it a “Kashimo Dish”.
The Kashimo Sanmai (three flavors) comes with hobazushi which is salmon, shitake mushrooms, red ginger, steamed butterbur, tuna, manila clams on sushi rice and wrapped in a magnolia leaf with a side of udon, Tomato juice, vegetables and braken cakes for 850 yen. Hobazushi is an old lunch box dish. If someone were going to go work in the fields or mountains, they took Hobazushi with them. The leaf retains moisture and keeps the contents fresh. All the magnolia leaves are hand picked by local women, cleaned and used for the year.
One of my favorites is the tomato vegetable curry which is made with local vegetables, the best rice and Kashimo tomatos for only 800 yen.
Of course the Yurakukan has other dishes besides these three big specialties. They serve Ena Chicken Karaage which is like chicken nuggets. They also have Hida Beef bowls which is some of the most tender meat mixed with vegetables over a steaming bowl of rice.
If you are adventurous try grilled Taro potato cakes or Imo Mochi. Nishi Kata (local) Taro potatoes are mixed with rice until creamy, shaped into thick cakes and put on a frying pan. You can eat them with sweet onion miso paste or ginger soy sauce.
In the afternoon, I have on more than one occasion, stopped in for their afternoon desert sets consisting of braken cakes (covered in sweet soy or sugar) with tea or a five piece cake set with coffee.
If you come to play in the river, fish, climb the mountains or just explore Kashimo, the Yurakukan is your spot for Breakfast, Lunch or tea time.