A Delicious Slice of Americana in Japan's Inland Sea
On the island of Naoshima, you can explore traditional houses transformed into art installations or sleep on the beach in a Mongolian yurt overlooking Yayoi Kusama's iconic pumpkin sculpture. It's a burgeoning mecca for contemporary art, but as food goes, options are limited and if you want to eat after 7 pm you might have to settle for onigiri from the conbini.
I'd been told to look out for Shioya Diner and found it to be exactly as charming as described. Around the corner from a public bathhouse decorated inside and out by collagist Shinro Ohtake, Shioya is an outpost of rock 'n' roll and retro kitsch run by a Japanese couple enamored with the American '50s and '60s. Since 2010, the former vintage dealers have served up burgers and beer in a modest space packed with the objects of their affection: portraits of wide-eyed children by Walter Keane, porcelain figurines, a black poodle clock with ticking tail and eyes.
Open until 8 pm on most nights, Shioya touts a menu including cajun chicken, tacos and Corona. The owners are as vibrant as the turquoise walls and soundtrack spanning doo wop, surf rock and rockabilly. As I enjoyed an excellent BLT with avocado, we chatted about their annual trips to the US (to round up more colorful curios) and regular treks to the Costco in Kobe—a ferry ride and 3-hour drive away—for American beef.
If you travel to Naoshima, stop by to or from the ferry at Miyanoura Port for a bite at this unlikely treasure.