Written by Kevin Jackson
California, USA, 14 years in Japan. I love Japan! I naturally have an interest in history and geography, and try to spend a fair amount of my free time exploring Japan and delving into those aforementioned interests to find out what makes this country so interesting. The more curious you are the more interesting life becomes. I have spent the last 14 years here doing just that, and plan to continue to explore.
Traveling in the southern region of Mie prefecture was amazing. There is so much history and tradition in this part of Japan. Many of the places that I visited go back at least 1000 years. There are not too many places in the world that the same can be said.
All of the places that I visited were stunning, however many of the jewels in this part of the country are hidden deep in forests, atop fairly large mountains, or only accessible by river.
By the time I made it all the way down to Kumano city near the border of Wakayama prefecture, I was drained and starved due to a long day of cycling, hiking and sailing. This area around the border between Wakayama prefecture is known for a special type of cuisine and I will do my best to introduce you to this local favorite in this article.
Prior to making the trip to Mie I had never heard of this local favorite. As I would learn as I traveled through this part of Mie prefecture, the locals were very particular and proud of the local cuisine.
Mehari-zushi is flavored sushi rice wrapped in pickled Takana mustard leaves and it is a traditional dish from the Kumano region. Mehari-zushi was initially created to be a big, quick lunch. Today it is made in smaller pieces so people can enjoy them without straining the muscles around their mouths to eat them.
Literally translated from Japanese, Me-Wo-Ha-Ru or the simplified version Mehari means to open your eyes wide.
The origin of the name is still unknown, but the two competing theories are that one needs to open his/her mouth quite wide in order to eat the dish therefore naturally causing the eyes to open wide as well. Another theory is that Mehari-zushi is so delicious that your eyes open wide in wonderment due to the unbelievable taste.
I’m not sure which one is correct, but my curiosity was sparked and I made my way to the restaurant Kappo Yamaguchi in Kumano city to taste this local favorite.
Address: Mie-ken, Ise-shi, Uji-Imazaikechou 37