Being the second largest island in the Setouchi Triennale, there are a lot of choices when it comes to eating and snacking on the island. By far, the easiest place to eat is around Ieura Port, but you can also easily find things to eat around the Karatoka, the hill in the Karato area. Trying to find places can be a little difficult at times but with a little investigative searching, you can find places where you can eat. I only experienced 3 shops, relaxed in 1, and dipped my head into a few others. The majority of the time I tried to frequent places that were a bit smaller or places that was more interesting. Cafes were a theme that I enjoyed on these islands and full on restaurants were a little difficult to come by, but not impossible to find.
The first day I was in Teshima, I didn’t need to eat as I had already eaten on Inujima. I was pretty content but when I went to Il Vento, the café inside the funky house by a German designer, my friend needed some caffeine, so he got a coffee, or was it a latte. While the price of drinks was not really overpriced, I didn’t feel a need to get a drink. If you want to check out the art, and not pay the entrance fee, you should get a drink as the entrance fee of 300 yen is waived if you buy something. If anything, one reason to buy a drink, or food, is to say you did have something in the artwork. How often can you say you had a drink in such a funky place? The one place I did enjoy was going to Ichigoya. It is a small little shop that specializes in strawberries, hence the name being “Strawberry Shop” in English. It wasn’t so much of a shop as it was just a place for locals to go and get a quick snack. The people running the shop were very friendly and felt like going to a farmer’s market. They had strawberries available for purchase as well as their own sweets. It appears that the most popular dish was the strawberry crepes. I decided to go for the strawberry ice cream instead and it was delicious. They had some really nice strawberry syrup as well as a fresh strawberry on my ice cream cone. I do regret not trying the smoothie but the prices were a bit high for my tastes, but the next time I go to Teshima, I’ll more than likely give it a try. On a quick side note, their website “teshima158” is a really interesting play on numbers. 1-5-8 can be read ichi-go-ya, so I was amused when I saw it.
The next morning, I arrived in Karato Port really early. I had an hour to burn before I could enter one of the artworks. I decided to just enjoy myself and went to a tea house that was in the guidebook. I went to a shop called 涼風庵 (Gyofuan). It was an old house located just off the main street. The only way to access it was to walk through some of the small pedestrian alleys between the houses. The shop was well marked but it was difficult to find if you didn’t know how to read the kanji. The older lady running the shop lived in the house and was wearing somewhat traditional clothing. She wasn’t wearing a kimono but she was wearing one of the top layers of a kimono to keep warm, along with grey sweat pants. It was an interesting combination to say the least. I was a bit nervous to enter at first but she was very warm and inviting, constantly telling us to come in. We were seated in her tatami room, next to the living room and kitchen. It felt as if we went to someone’s Japanese hometown, to their grandmother’s house. The house was nice and the tea was prepared properly for us, including some little sweets for us to eat. She even played a type of pianica. I can’t really explain the sound too well, but the device was kind of like a pianica but the sound was closer to a koto. She was even trying to get us to take some flat rocks she painted with various fruits on it. She said it could be used as a chopstick rest, but I really didn’t need it, so I didn’t take it. She was a wonderful host and as long as you can speak a little Japanese, the tea and company is nice.
The last place I went to for food was Shima Kitchen. Shima Kitchen is a very interesting place as it was part of the art itself. Similar to Il Vento, but on a better scale, Shima Kitchen was a really nice restaurant with great food. The building was designed by Ryo Abe and features a large terrace for people to enjoy special events along with their food and drinks. The chef from the Marunouchi Hotel worked with the mothers of Teshima to create a menu that was very local. Watching a video on the restaurant, I watched the chef from the Marunouchi Hotel teach the local mothers how to prepare dishes. While he was the one who came up with the dishes, the mothers worked in collaboration with him, from what I understand. When it comes to the kitchen itself, the mothers are the ones who do the actual cooking, but the chef oversees everything and ensures that the dishes are plated properly too. Regardless of what set you order, the general things you get are the same. For a starter, we got a small salad along with deep fried fish in a curry sauce. For the main dish, I got the special of the day, which was tsukemono (Japanese pickles), rice, oshiruko (I think), vegetable tempura, and deep fried fish with a Thai sauce. It was very delicious and most, if not all, of the items were locally acquired. They even have a set number of dishes for the day and they change the numbers on the board throughout the day. It was nice to be able to enjoy such a nice place for lunch.
While there are many other places to eat on Teshima, I feel I went to some of the best places. I would love to go back to each and every one of these places. My only regret is not being able to try everything on their menus as well as being able to spend more time relaxing in these shops. It is difficult for them to keep making a living and I did my best to help out. I really hope they continue to do well and that they will become more famous in the future. While the quality may not be Michelin 3 Star quality, just the fact that most of the food was made with love and care is more than enough for me.
Eating on Teshima is part of a series of posts on the Setouchi Triennale. Follow the links below to read more about the different aspects of the Setouchi Triennale.
- Dru’s Great Setouchi Triennale 2013 Misadventure
- EAT&ART TARO on Shamijima
- Food of Inujima
- Teshima – Kou and Ieura
- Teshima – Karato
- Ogijima (Part I)
- Ogijima (Part II)
- ONBA CAFE
- Naoshima (Benesse Art Site)
- Naoshima (Honmura & Miyanoura)
- Naoshima (Transportation)
- Takamatsu Revisited
- Takamatsu (Setouchi Triennale Edition)
- Ferries in the Setouchi Triennale