Lonely Planet Writer

Food blogger captures her visit to a remote, mystical Japanese restaurant

When she heard about a remote Japanese restaurant run by a master calligrapher and serving up exquisite tofu dishes, Italian food blogger Andrea Soranidis of The Petite Cook knew she had to visit. Teaming up with the guys at Great Big Story, she chronicled her journey in this beautiful short film.

The walk to the restaurant along the River Oi.
The walk to the restaurant along the River Oi. Image by Great Big Story

Andrea was mesmerised by Japan, as soon as she arrived. “Living there, even for a few days, is a unique experience”, she tells Lonely Planet. “It feels like living in a bubble, because there’s no other place like it in the world. Everywhere you visit breathes traditional culture and innovation at the same time, the people are kind and always ready to help you, and the food, well, is simply amazing.”

Andrea’s destination, the Shoraian Restaurant, is located in the idyllic district of Arashiyama, west of Kyoto, and – as she discovered – it’s not too easy to get to! “To reach the restaurant”, she says, “you have to walk for about 15 minutes through a mystical forest, alongside the beautiful River Oi. The walk, somehow, prepares your soul for the spiritual journey you’re about to experience.”

The pretty eatery is run by Fuyoh Kobayashi; a talented artist and calligrapher. “She’s a very interesting woman”, says Andrea. “The restaurant’s traditional décor and architecture really represent her simple, sophisticated soul. Her calligraphy art and other elements from Japanese traditional culture are showcased around the restaurant, flawlessly fusing with the natural surroundings. The reserved atmosphere, the attentive, unintrusive way your meal is served, and all the forest sounds you’re surrounded by, all contribute to a very spiritual experience.”

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The restaurant is renowned for its delicious tofu dishes. Did Andrea enjoy her meal? “The food at the Shoraian is pure art”, she smiles. “If you’re looking for unique ingredients wisely prepared and impeccably served, you’ll definitely enjoy every bit of your meal. I’ve never tasted tofu as good as the one at the Shoraian!”