During the summer months, Hakuba transforms itself from a ski town to a local farming community, with wide expanses of rice fields, berry farms, and small family-run vegetable gardens. As the farming season comes to a close, chestnuts, mushrooms, apples, and grapes are in abundance. The rice is standing tall and golden, ready for harvest. The fall offers a cornucopia of seasonal delights. Now is the time to come and experience the local Japanese food in Hakuba.
October 25th, 2020 | by April Eve Day
Ah, Autumn in Hakuba
That last moment of respite before the onset of winter when the valley dazzles in shades of red and gold and the sun warms your bones but doesn’t sizzle your skin. The crisp, cool, clean mountain air of Fall brings with it the smells of Autumn and thoughts of enjoying the final harvest of the year. Crisp Nagano apples, chestnut flavored ice cream, and delicious mushroom dishes abound in the Hakuba Valley. In honor of the fall harvest and all the delicious fare it has to offer, Events Hakuba sat down with Teraguchi San, the Head Chef at Happo One’s Pilar restaurant to find out more about local Japanese foods.
Perched high on the mountain in Happo, Pilar commands what is arguably one of the best views in the Hakuba Valley, especially in Autumn. It is one of those rare places where you get both a view and the feast to match. Easily one of the best on-mountain restaurants in Hakuba, we were excited to get the opportunity to speak with their Head Chef. Teraghuchi San, born in Tokyo, has held posts at Ile de France, Restaurant Kureson, Hakuba Highland Hotel, and Hotel Green Plaza. He is now the head chef at Pilar where he is known for using locally sourced ingredients in many of his dishes. Continue reading below to find out Teraguchi San’s recommendations for local specialties and what Nagano and Pilar have to offer foodies during the fall season.
Events Hakuba: You are known for using fresh local ingredients in your cooking. What autumn ingredients do you love to use and why?
Teraguchi San: Mushrooms, because Nagano is famous for lots of different kinds of mushrooms. Forget your average button mushrooms, Nagano prefecture cultivates an enormous variety of the fantastic fungi, from the meaty Eringi to the purportedly cancer-fighting Enoki.
Events Hakuba: What is special about the produce grown in the Shinshu area? Is the meat from this area different from other places?
Teraguchi San: Due to the abundance of nature, local ingredients for Gibier (game) dishes such as boar and deer are available locally. Nagano has its own system for certifying wild game and it is not uncommon to see wild boar or venison on menus in Hakuba. There is even a type of venison salami hunted exclusively in Nagano.
Events Hakuba: What is Shinshu’s signature Autumn fruit that visitors must try?
Teraguchi San: I recommend Nagano Purple. This is a type of grape grown in Nagano that is candy-sweet and rich at the same time. These grapes are best eaten peeled but it is worth the extra effort!
Events Hakuba: What can visitors expect from your Autumn menu at Pilar?
Teraguchi San: Lots of mushroom dishes such as mushroom terrine and mushroom potage, and they are very popular.
Events Hakuba: As a chef and a Hakuba Local, what is your favorite thing about Autumn?
Teraguchi San: Working at Pilar, I can feel the change of the season very closely. The view from the restaurant is amazing. In mid-October, there is usually snow on top of the mountain. I love the scenery of what we call 三段紅葉（Three-tiered Autumn color) with snow, autumn leaves, and green in the valley at the same time.
Nagano’s forests, orchards, vineyards, and restaurants are bursting with local delights. From mushrooms to grapes and, from wild boar to venison, the local Hakuba restaurants are teaming with fall produce. If unique Autumn fare is what you’re after, head to Hakuba and be sure to take advantage of the local Japanese food that can only be found in Nagano during the fall.
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