Driving into Geeveston, you get the feeling you are entering somewhere special. The small forestry township is surrounded by stunning mountains and the main street is full of quirky hand-carved timber sculptures of famous locals. The gateway to the South West has a rich history that is waiting to be explored.
The last thing you might expect to find is a world class Japanese chef, operating a small restaurant that if you blink – you might just miss it.
Growing up in a small rural village, Masaaki Koyama enjoyed a modest and fulfilling upbringing. Helping his father and neighbours farm the local rice paddies, spending time playing with friends in the local rivers, catching fish and exploring the forest. Worlds apart from Geeveston, there are also many similarities.
The big tree change
“I grew up in a really small village in Japan. Probably about the size of Geeveston. They both have a history of forestry and are looking at tourism as a way forward. The prefecture of Wakayama has World Heritage areas related to the forest and the temples nearby.
Both Wakayama and Tasmania have kind people, the same kind of local characters, both places have delicious food, good fresh produce, clean water, not many people. They’re really pretty similar actually!”
Leaving his village at the age of 18, Masaaki would move to Osaka to fulfil his passion of becoming a sushi chef.
“I lived in a dormitory with other apprentice sushi chefs. It was pretty hard. I lived and worked in a restaurant in Osaka for about five years. I worked so hard for very little pay but I learned a lot from my seniors and enjoyed the busy environment.
After years of perfecting his craft in Japan, Masaaki met his partner Lucy who was a Taswegian travelling and working in Japan. After Lucy described the Huon region, it’s premium seafood, fresh air, clean water and friendly people – It was inevitable that they would relocate.
Masaaki’s other great passion is surfing, going to great lengths to successfully juggle his sushi making with the best surf.
Masaaki is in the process of preparing his own sushi restaurant in Geeveston. In the meantime, you can find his food van in Central Geeveston behind the Town Hall, only available on Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm until sold out. Masaaki’s is not the easiest place to find, but well worth the effort.
It is recommended that you preorder your sushi online via his website www.masaaki.com.au
You can follow his Facebook page on the latest ways to buy his sushi.