The term "satoyama" is packed with layers of nuance. In broader terms, it refers to fields in the Japanese countryside, but it evokes nostalgic images of a simpler time when people lived in close harmony with nature. Inspired by satoyama culture, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa has created a groundbreaking new cuisine that he describes as “innovative satoyama” — the heart of his restaurant, Narisawa.
Located in the posh Minami-Aoyama neighborhood, this restaurant has received two Michelin stars — plus a Michelin Green Star for its commitment to sustainability — and it often comes up in lists of the world’s best restaurants. Its concept, in the chef’s own words, is “beneficial and sustainable gastronomy.” Chef Narisawa cultivates a close relationship with the farmers and fishermen from whom he sources his ingredients, and he purchases only what he needs to avoid food waste.
The menu changes daily to honor the changing seasons and Japan’s diverse rural landscapes. Chef Narisawa makes use of ingredients like local mountain vegetables, rare spices, and prized — even exotic — specialties from across the nation, such as Ise abalone and Okinawan sea snakes. Fermentation, often utilized in rural Japanese cooking, takes center stage, with dishes that use koji mold, fermented soy milk, and so on.