February 22, 2024

Expanding restaurant culture in Yamanashi

Destination Restaurants 2023


Tomodachi is an appetizer with ingredients sourced from producers who are friends of the chef. The dish harmoniously combines lightly smoked Yatsugatake spring trout from the aquaculture farm Kawazakana Miyama and beets from Crazy Farm, used both in their fresh state and cooked to make a sauce.

After running a Tokyo restaurant as owner-chef and proprietress since 2011, Shinsaku Suzuki and his wife, Emi Ishida, made the decision to relocate in order to raise their children in a place with more space and freedom. They were drawn to the beautiful scenery and natural environment of Hokuto in Yamanashi Prefecture, and opened the innovative restaurant Terroir Ai to Ibukuro there in 2017.

Located in the foothills of the Yatsugatake Mountains, which run north to south from Nagano Prefecture to Yamanashi, the area was once a post town on the Saku Koshu Kaido highway, which merged with the Koshu Kaido, one of the five routes established by the Edo shogunate. The restaurant occupies a 180-year-old former warehouse that once served as a distribution center. The main dining room, from which guests occasionally spot a raccoon dog or fox or hear a deer’s cry, was once a stable. A chest of drawers and a folding screen originally used in the warehouse are part of the decor. As the restaurant basically has a staff of two — Suzuki and Ishida — reservations are limited to one group each for lunch and dinner on weekdays and two groups on weekends, with a maximum of 10 guests per meal service.

The course menu is priced at ¥21,780 ($145), including tax and service. Listed on the back of the menu are the names of the producers supplying the restaurant’s ingredients — from vegetables, meat and fish to coffee, wine and other beverages — and tableware, including the serving dishes, linens and even the washi paper on which the menu is printed. Over 80% of these producers are located in Yamanashi.

Yamanashi (Innovative)
Terroir Ai to Ibukuro
414 Takane-cho, Nagasawa, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture

“There are quite a lot of younger people who have moved to the Yatsugatake foothills from other places, like we did — artisans, artists, people in agriculture and so on,” said Suzuki. “Water veins from Mount Fuji flow here, and the water and soil are excellent, so this area has always attracted producers. And recently newcomers are also settling here and starting a variety of projects. We don’t have the ocean nearby, but instead we have hot springs. Trout farmed in spring water and other new local specialties are emerging.”

A signature dish of Terroir Ai to Ibukuro combines moderately fatty Yatsugatake spring-water trout, which has a clean, pure taste thanks to the clarity of the water it is raised in, and organically grown beets with a sweet and earthy flavor. This and the other 10 or so offerings on the course menu — even the petit fours — incorporate delicious ingredients that can only be obtained in mountainous areas.

While Terroir Ai to Ibukuro is a complete fine-dining experience, Suzuki and Ishida also call it “a restaurant where gastronomy can be enjoyed by three generations of family members.” Even babies are welcome, with special baby food available for infants 10 months and over, along with a kids’ menu for very young children and a “junior” menu for elementary schoolers. The couple also occasionally hold tours, called Yatsugatake Gastronomy Tourism, which include an outdoor lunch as well as dinner. In Hokuto, participants visit a vegetable producer and a river fish farm and encounter sake brewing, arts, culture and nature. Experiencing Suzuki’s cuisine in combination with these activities undoubtedly adds even more depth to its flavors. Based on a wish to expand restaurant culture in Yamanashi Prefecture, Suzuki also hosts a monthly informal lunch intended mainly for young people from the area.

Programs designed to spur interest in gastronomy, not only among the affluent but also among people of all backgrounds and any age, offer many useful suggestions for restaurant owners and others working to promote regional revitalization. With the example of Shinsaku Suzuki and Emi Ishida, it is hoped that more people will be inspired to open creative and innovative dining establishments.


Suzuki was born in 1979 in Iida, Nagano Prefecture. After graduating from junior high school, he became a resident trainee at a Japanese restaurant in Nagoya. At the age of 21 he moved to Tokyo, where he worked at a restaurant serving creative Japanese cuisine. From 2005, he worked at several French restaurants, including Restaurant J. Suzuki started Restaurant Ai to Ibukuro in Sangenjaya, Tokyo, in 2011. In 2017, he reopened the restaurant in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture, with the new name Terroir Ai to Ibukuro.


オーナーシェフの鈴木信作、マダムの石田恵海夫妻が都内から移住し、山梨県北杜市にイノベーティブレストラン『Terroir 愛と胃袋』をオープンしたのは2017年のこと。昼夜とも1組、週末は2組まで、10名までの予約が可能。 昼夜¥21,780(税・サ込)。約10皿のコースには湧水で養殖した鱒など、山間ならではの恵みが、盛り込まれる。



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