By Nurain Syafiah
The silence is broken by the whizzing sounds of cars on the street. It does not, however, alter the serene atmosphere in any way. The modern style wooden floored living room is directly exposed to the sun, making winter feel warm and inviting. There is no better place to relax and unwind than in a rural setting, away from the bustle of the city. Beyond the green meadows in front of this vacation home, the magnificent Niyodo Blue is nearby and only a one-hour drive away.
“Out of every five people, there will be one vegan who has dietary restrictions.”
The owner of the vacation house described, Mrs. Haruka Matsukura, chose to purchase a piece of land in Hidaka, a village in Kochi prefecture to establish her pioneer business. She noted that rural areas have their own potential as a tourist destination. However, it will undoubtedly take some time and effort to get more visitors to this area. Thus, the thought to offer vegan cuisine as part of her service is a true game-changer.
She recalled having to decline a visitor’s request for a vegan lunch box while working as a tourist monitor.
“When I said that I couldn’t provide a lunchbox for a vegan, I thought something was off. What if more vegans come here? They would find it difficult to eat, especially if they couldn’t understand Japanese.”
“Vegan”, and “vegetarian”. Both terms are not new. Nevertheless, many people frequently confuse the two. To make things easier to understand, a vegan diet forgoes all forms of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Conversely, a vegetarian diet is safe when it comes to eggs and dairy. A few restaurants that serve vegan-friendly meals already exist in Kochi. In fact, a few fast food chains, including Starbucks and Doutor, offer soy-meat burgers in their menu. But, particularly in this area, there aren’t many alternative food options. As a result, the list now has one extra option thanks to Mrs. Haruka’s new strategy.
Why is the vegan meal provided at her holiday home so special? Naturally, as vegan sawachi is unavailable elsewhere!
“Sawachi-ryouri”. Also commonly known as sawachi. In some dictionaries, it is defined as a huge plate of several cold foods. But, has more to offer than that. It is a type of traditional cuisine from feudal Japan and a specialty of Kochi Prefecture. This distinctive food is frequently offered on holidays and other special occasions. Several different types of cuisine, including sashimi, inaka sushi (Kochi’s style sushi), katsuo no tataki (Kochi’s grilled bonito), fried food, pickles, and even fruits, are combined to make sawachi. These are all presented collectively on a 36- to 39-cm dish.
“We used no meat at all in making our vegan sawachi—not even sugar! You know, because some sugar was probably manufactured or contaminated with animal byproducts.”
She was impressed by how accepting Kochi residents are while working for a tourism bureau, therefore she made the decision to start her pioneer initiative in Hidaka village without giving it much thought.
“I grew up in Yokohama, and my husband too lived close to Tokyo. When I first arrived here for my job interview, I was somewhat dissatisfied with our accommodations in some respects,” she continued, outlining the idea behind her vacation home, which she makes as comfortable as possible and targets a wide range of visitors, including local and international, especially for those who wish to stay in a long term. The house could accommodate no more than six people at once while still keeping everyone cozy. “Parents who have babies shouldn’t worry about the bed because I gave it some thought beforehand.”
Visitors have a lot of places to dine nearby. Mrs. Haruka even helped to compile a list of some nearby restaurants if they wanted to eat outside instead of cooking. Ordering food from her is just another option they have. In Japan, they also have their version of ‘hors d’oeuvre’ – all sorts of snacks, including sashimi, fried chicken, and some other light meals all on a plate served at parties. Given that it is safe for everyone to eat, adding vegan options as part of her service is a smart idea.
“I don’t make the meals, you know”, She said, “Instead, I work with a neighbourhood store and I’m delighted she’s with me for the vegan dishes.” In addition, she mentioned that the items used are local goods, which incidentally helps the local economy.
“I’ll bring the large porcelain plate from the restaurant to the residence if they order it.” When discussing how she refuses to use disposable plates and plastics to promote her initiative on sustainability, she added, “And after they finish, I will take back the plate.”
Simple but meaningful. Mrs. Haruka actions would have a significant impact because the entire world is moving toward sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organisation as “travel that fully accounts for its current and future economic, social, and environmental implications, satisfying the requirements of travellers, the industry, the environment, and host communities.” As a result, maintaining the environment is a shared responsibility of everyone, including travellers and property owners.
“The utensils and cutlery are already given, so visitors are no longer required to purchase disposable items. Unfortunately, toothbrushes are not prepared, but shampoo and body wash are.” She pointed to the green shampoo bottle and continued, “And it’s vegan friendly!”
When Mrs. Haruka made the decision to breathe new life into the house, it was already close to 40 years old. “As everyone has started to travel and venture out to explore the world since starting the business in August two years ago, the pandemic is not really a concern.”
Even though her vacation home is still new, it has already brought about changes because visitors from all over the world—including Taiwan, South Korea, America, and Italy—have lodged there. And no doubt more will go to see Hidaka village’s natural beauty. This vacation home, which is nicely situated next to nature, deserves to be highlighted. It offers not just peace of mind and heart but also a unique culture, pleasant people, and vegan-friendly food!
I’ve never heard of Sawachi before, but it sounds like a great business for the growing number of vegans out there!!
It looks like a nice place to calm the mind.
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I was moved by her actions! Thanks to her actions, vegans around the world can visit Hidaka-mura and Kochi without worry. This action should be better known to the world.
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It was impressive for me that she enriched not only herself but other people’s lives.
Wow! This sounds very healthy and special. Also, they only made the food with vegetables is really good for vegetarians!
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