Kira Kazuto／Owner Kirankuya Hand-Made Buckwheat Noodles
I follow a narrow, overgrown and shady street along the shore. Following a wooden sign along the roadside that says “Kirankuya” I pass several homes before I come upon a quiet, nearly hidden restaurant. It’s almost as if they’re trying to keep their business a secret. A red curtain waves slightly in a sea breeze.
The buckwheat noodle shop “Kirankuya” is located in Anbo. Its owner, Kira Kazuto, and his wife, moved here from Tokyo 13 years ago and opened this restaurant. They had always liked rural life and when Kira-san’s company offered early retirement they decided to move to Yakushima, having been here on their honeymoon.
“I felt tense in the city, but here on Yakushima, life is more relaxed, more tranquil.” With jazz music playing in the background, one can enjoy their soba (buckwheat noodles) in a relaxed atmosphere. The layout of the restaurant and the remodeling of its furnishings – the persimmon-colored furniture and tasteful antiques all in a row – are all the work of Kira-san. At lunchtime the tiny parking lot is full and at night – when individual dishes and soba are served a la carte – sake is served and customers come along in search of a warm atmosphere.
Of course, the soba noodles are hand-cut daily and the soup stock is made without any chemical additives, only with kombu (kelp) from Hokkaido, bonito from Kagoshima and saba (mackerel) from Yakushima. Tasty water is essential to soba making and Yakushima has an abundance of that.
In fact, soba was not common fare on Yakushima in the past. The local carpenter who worked on the shop even told Kira-san, “People around here don’t eat soba. You should serve udon (wheat noodles) instead!” Indeed, when the restaurant first opened, most of the customers were people who had relocated here. But now, in addition to these settlers, one finds tourists and locals as well, and the sound of noodle slurping comes from the nearly every table.
Kira-san doesn’t talk much but he did say, “We’re this town’s only soba restaurant, and we want people to feel free to come here.” On Yakushima, one has only to step outside to feel the presence of nature. It’s been 13 years since the Kiras moved here and he has made a new round of soup and fresh soba noodles almost every day. Kira-san looked over at me as he cut more noodles. “Our lives here are happier than back in the city where people didn’t have time for one another.”
Written by Sanpo-tei, Ogata Rei
- 540-234 Anbo, Yakushima Township
- Kumage County, Kagoshima Prefecture
- Telephone: 0997-46-4610
- url: kirankuya.la.coocan.jp