Sho Sushi was a traditional Japanese restaurant nestled in the main street of a small fishing village west of Japan. An elderly couple ran it. Their signature dish was a mackerel sushi with a recipe going back to the days when Kyoto was still the capital of Japan.
Back in the days, fish from the coast were transported to the capital on horseback that would take days. To preserve the fish, in this case mackerel, the fish would have to be cured. A recipe was developed to not only withstand the journey but also preserve its moist texture and flavour. When you eat the fish, you could luxuriate in its texture slice by slice, whilst smelling the sea. It was food for the emperor.
People in the village often gossiped about what would happen to the recipe once the couple retired.
* * * * *
Yuko squinted into the sparkling sea in front of her. She was on board a ferry heading to the fishing village. The wind was strong. Sprinkles of seawater fell on her face each time the ferry thumped into a wave. She had to switch her weight from side to side to maintain her balance.
A fellow passenger stumbled towards her. “Are you here to sightsee for the day too?”
“Oh no, this is my home town. My parents run a business here.” Yuko smiled.
“Great, what do you recommend a visitor do here?”
“There is not much to see or do really. It’s a fishing village. People mostly come here to eat seafood. The American President Obama did visit here once. They even made a stamp to commemorate the event. I couldn’t wait to leave the village myself when I was young. I didn’t want a rural life. I wanted the big city.” Yuko chuckled.
“Were you pressured to return then?” The ferry passenger noticed the suitcase behind Yuko.
“No. Not by my parents anyway. They have never imposed anything on me. For a family that has been in the village for generations, they were incredibly open-minded. They let me go to university, travel overseas and move away from home. They gave me all the freedom in the world. “
Yuko paused to take in a few deep breaths. She closed her eyes to let the smell of the sea saturate her body.
“Maybe my parents wanted to leave the place themselves. They didn’t have a choice though. My father’s the eldest son and it’s his duty to continue the business whether he liked it or not. Maybe he wanted to spare me from his fate. But the grass is not greener on the other side. It’s not easy to score in life. For years, I foolishly ran after acorns when I already have an oak tree waiting for me. This is my voyage home“
“So, Welcome Home!” The young man smiled.
“Drop by our restaurant sometime. It’s called Sho Sushi. It has the best mackerel in the country. Fit for an emperor.” Yuko beamed.