By Nate Hill
The rural town of Kami in Kochi Prefecture is best known for its Anpanman Museum. What it doesn't have in spades are enticing eateries, at least not that I could tell. So when I saw the signs for a cafe and onsen on the other side of the town's river, I took a chance and braved the tiny, twisting roadways to track down Kohanyu.
It's worth the effort to reach this riverside retreat. Kohanyu is many things (cafe, onsen, gallery) but my main quest was for a tasty lunch. In that respect, Kohanyu more than delivered. It's possible to order single-plate lunches, such as Japanese omelet, various pastas, or the Kochi specialty of tataki (seared skipjack tuna). But for a reasonable price, it's worth springing for one of the daily set meals. I opted for the hamburg steak, a well-seasoned offering of local beef, served with a host of side dishes. Being spring, I was treated to certain seasonal vegetables like bamboo shoots and rape blossom greens, as well as a number of tofu-based options. A bowl of brown rice and a side of miso soup rounded out the main lunch, while I added the extra beverage of freshly squeezed apple, carrot and cabbage juice. When I asked the staff later, they informed me that everything on the day's menu had been grown locally; the rice was even organic.
You can always stop by Kohanyu simply for dessert or coffee. On its own, the sweet options might seem expensive but the portion sizes are massive and my apple cake came with an extra side of ice cream. A variety of caffeinated drinks are yours for the choosing, as well as selections like cocoa.
If the weather is agreeable, you should absolutely choose the terrace. A few four-person tables as well as a long bench are available for diners and the views of the river and surrounding forest are lovely. A quick breeze can blow up along the banks, however; blankets are available in case of the chill.
Kohanyu is really only reachable by car, unless you don't mind a 20-30 minute walk across the river from the town of Kami itself where the local bus drops off. Parking is on the hill above the restaurant.
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