I take a small amount of vinegared rice in my palm and deftly shape it into an oblong mound. I gently press on the topping and am filled with a sense of accomplishment as I gaze at my tray of colorful bite-size creations.

“Well done — they look very appetizing, don’t they?” says instructor Mika Nakayama, as we carry our handiwork to the nearby dining table and sit down for lunch.

I’m in the village of Hidaka, Kochi Prefecture, about 16 kilometers west of the prefectural capital of Kochi City, to participate in a sushi-making experience. On Shikoku’s southern coast, Hidaka isn’t so far removed from the sea, and the village is also considered the gateway to the nearby Niyodo River, but on the sushi in front of me, there isn’t so much as a scrap of seafood to be seen.