lunch inside an old barrel

Have you ever eaten lunch inside a huge old soya sauce barrel? Unless you have been to the special place called Sanrokuen, I doubt very much that you have! Up in the tree-covered hills, 7 or 8 km to the east of KIshiwada, it is unlikely that there is any other place on earth quite like this amazing restaurant.

The plum blossom almost in full bloom

The plum blossom almost in full bloom

A view inside the barrel

A view inside the barrel

Opened in 1976, and designed by the man who built it and now still runs it, these barrels are a place to come with friends and relax while eating some tasty barbecued food in beautiful surroundings, which in my experience are second to none.

Lovely sculpted gardens with mini waterfalls

Lovely sculpted gardens with mini waterfalls

The gardens are wonderful, and with the plum trees in blossom and the cherry trees beginning to bud, springtime may be the best time of the year to come here. If you are thinking of visiting on a weekend during hanami, I would strongly recommend making a reservation in advance: it will be busy!

Number 13, lucky for some!

Number 13, lucky for some!

The barrels range in size from cosy to cavernous, and cater for romantic couples up to groups of 20, or more. Some of the smaller barrels have TVs, and all (I think!) have karaoke possibilities. Even the toilets are housed inside barrels – how cool is that?

Toilet in a barrel

Toilet in a barrel

In the past, I have only been at night time and by car, but yesterday we decided to take the train and bus, which for the kids, and some of the adults (especially the one who got the wrong train and ended up at Kansai airport on her own!) was a bit of an adventure.

Heading up to the beefy barrels by bouncy bus

Heading up to the beefy barrels by bouncy bus

We took the JR line from Otori to Higashi-Kishiwada, and then the number 44 (maybe!) bus from between the station and Saty, just next to the train crossing. The bus journey took about 15 minutes and then we had a 15 minute walk up the hill: easy!

A nice relaxing stroll through mountain scenery ...

A nice relaxing stroll through mountain scenery ...

... unless you are pushing a baby car up a steep hill while people laugh at you!

... unless you are pushing a baby car up a steep hill while people laugh at you!

Except for the pink-faced man pushing the baby-car loaded with heavy bags, and an incredibly fat baby, up a 25% gradient hill, quite possibly the steepest in Japan, for the last 100 metres, to the entrance of the restaurant.

Lunch in the big barrel

Lunch in the big barrel

Lunch time was supposed to finish at 2pm, but as we know the owner, we were there all afternoon until close to 5.30pm. Occasionally, to take a rest from the difficult task of eating meat, we went for a stroll around the gardens.

Fish tank marking the bathroom entrance

Fish tank marking the bathroom entrance

The kids, especially, love some of the added touches, such as the fish tanks and the little museum, full of bits and pieces, including some stuffed animals like the inoshishi you can see in the photo.

Baby wild boar in a glass box

Baby wild boar in a glass box

At the end of a long afternoon feasting on beef, drinking jibiru, chatting with good friends, it would have been easy just to roll down the hill back to Higashi-Kishiwada, but we decided to take taxis, which the master called for us.

If you have any free time this spring, make a journey up to Sanrokuen, but watch out for the final hill if you are pushing a baby car laden with heavy bags and an enormous infant, it might just be the last hill you ever walk up!

A final view of Sanrokuen

A final view of Sanrokuen

For prices, times and transport, check out the helpful website: Sanrokuen.

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One Response to lunch inside an old barrel

  1. Qué envidia, cbrn.
    De verdad.
    I have my postcard almost ready…almost.

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