Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Icho no Ki" Farm Guesthouse

The wide fields in front of the guesthouse.
The Innkeeper at "Icho no Ki" Farm Guesthouse
   "Icho no Ki" Farm Guesthouse in Yusuhara Town was the first of its kind in Kochi establishing itself in April of 2000. 75% of guests who have stayed have come from outside the prefecture, and they have had guests from all 47 prefectures of Japan. The innkeeper; Mrs. Tomoko Ueta was selected in the "top 100 Moms who run agricultural, forestry or fishermen lodging" and keeps going every day, working to greet those who come with hospitality in her usual style to increase the fans of Yusuhara. She hopes that lodgers can spend their time leisurely, and that they can have a relaxing chat about what a great day they had.

The origin of "Icho no Ki"
   On the grounds of "Icho no Ki" there is an Icho (Ginkgo) Tree that is over 600 years old. During the war, it is said that local women who couldn't produce breast milk would come to the tree, shave some off and cook it in porridge. Those who did were then said to be able to produce breast milk so rows of women could be seen lining up from neighboring towns and villages. Because of this, the house that stood there became known as the "house of the Milk Icho" throughout the town so they decided to name the farm guesthouse as "Icho no Ki (The Gingko Tree)". In addition, the tree is located on the side of the road where Ryoma Sakamoto walked when leaving his samurai lord, so he may have gazed at the tree as he went.
Harvesting vegetables with the innkeeper.
What kind of people come to the guesthouse?
   "Icho no Ki" guests are from all walks of life, with families, friends, couples, university students for seminars and municipal officials having lodged there. Many repeaters also make for interesting stories, with one who would just walk in the house when the innkeeper was out, only to be found just drinking beer on the veranda when she returned. Further, a young boy said "I want to take you home"
to the innkeeper’s father-in-law because he was an excellent listener.
   The innkeeper also spoke of another boy who said he thought of Yusuhara during a piano contest and ended up winning the contest. Trainees from Europe and Asia have also stayed, and the innkeeper recalled with a smile one time in particular when a group from Thailand came to stay whilst there interpreter stayed elsewhere. Even without speaking the language the innkeeper attempted to be hospitable and they sat down and spent the evening signing together.
The innkeeper speaking of how she wants
“people to keep returning to Kochi”.
What do people do on the farm?
   According to the innkeeper, a lot of the guests see pictures of mountain vegetables in travel magazines and come to enjoy the food with comments such as "I wanted to eat this!" while smacking their lips while staring at the food across the sunken fireplace. The innkeeper’s very own creation, Nasu (Eggplant) no Tataki is also very satisfying. There were also stories of children who came and after eating the freshly taken vegetables where able to eat vegetables they weren't able to eat before. Others come to the river to fish, or to harvest vegetables from the field, helping create communication between parents and children, and also learn about life in the countryside through exchange with the locals.
The dinner by the sunken fireplace is exquisite.
"Icho no Ki" Farm Guesthouse
Address: 1921 Kawanishiji, Yusuhara-cho, Takaoka-gun 〒785-0651
TEL & FAX: 0889-65-0418
JR from Kochi City:
   Roughly 40 minutes from Kochi City on the limited express to Susaki. From there take the bus from Susaki Eki Mae for about 80 minutes to Yusuhara. Get off at the end of the line. Pickup is available from the bus stop.
Car from Kochi City:
   Take route 197 from Susaki IC towards Ehime for approximately 50 minutes. Then it’s about 3 minutes drive from the centre of Yusuhara


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