Each party of guests is treated to Japanese hospitality in one of the guesthouses spread out over the 3,300-square-meter garden on the banks of the Saigawa river, slightly away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kanazawa. The classical Japanese restaurant Kincha-ryo is nestled into a garden on a slope 40 meters high. The spirit of “one guest, one dining lounge” is embodied in the main building and the five teahouse-style guesthouses, where guests can delight in the bliss of seasonal transitions in food and the tranquility of the gardens, away from the eyes of others.
Upon returning from training in Kyoto, chef Harujiro Takeuchi started Kincha-ryo in 1933 when he came into possession of the personal villa of Baron Yokoyama, who belonged to one of the former retainer families of the Kaga domain. Ever since its founding, the “one guest, one dining lounge” philosophy has been maintained in terms of both facilities and services.
The oldest guest house, “Ochin no Ma,” built as a tea room for the Yokoyama family toward the end of the Edo period (1603-1867), gives a window on the craftsmanship of the time. Its handrails are made of elaborately decorated chestnut wood and the ceiling of maple. Gold folding screens, wall scrolls and seasonal flowers adorn the interior.
Guests are asked about the occasion and their hometown when making a reservation, and food and arrangements are fine-tuned accordingly. For guests living in Ishikawa, local cuisine is avoided. The histories of repeat visitors are recorded and the sake that the guests enjoyed before is prepared again. “We accommodate guests based on as much information as we can get about them,” General Manager Mitsuhisa Yoshikawa says.
Each of the guesthouses comes with its own devoted serving staff, on standby 30 minutes prior to the start of the reservation. They respond to guest requests and additional orders of sake with scrupulous timing. They get a read on the pace of their main guests, letting the head chef know when to start cooking in order to perfectly time the serving of each dish.
Since 2008, Kincha-ryo has hosted monthly Saijiki (chronicles) banquets to which leading figures in traditional culture from Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures are invited. “I believe classical Japanese restaurants, with their accumulation of local traditions, can play a role in getting the word out on rare traditional culture,” says Yoshikawa, who asks craftspeople to give lectures during the banquets. “Following the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, I want to be a concierge who can introduce the best of the best by using the network I’ve built.”