A city of ramen, sake, crafts, and traditional Japanese storehouses converted into shops

Nestled in Fukushima Prefecture, Kitakata is a city that boasts a rich cultural heritage and a deep appreciation for its local traditions. Renowned for its love of ramen and exceptional sake, Kitakata offers visitors a unique blend of culinary delights, traditional craftsmanship, and historical charm.

Quick Facts

One of Kitakata’s claim to fame is its impressive collection of over 100 ramen shops. This is no surprise considering that the locals have developed a tradition of eating ramen for breakfast. The city takes pride in its diverse ramen offerings, each restaurant serving its own unique interpretation of this beloved dish.

In addition to its vibrant ramen scene, Kitakata is also famous for its historic storehouses. With almost 4,000 old storehouses, many of which have been converted into shops, inns, and other businesses, the city showcases a unique blend of old and new. These storehouses, known as kura, are an integral part of Kitakata’s architectural landscape and serve as a testament to the city’s rich history.

How to Get There

Reaching Kitakata is relatively easy, thanks to its accessibility via the shinkansen from Tokyo. Travelers can take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Koriyama and then transfer to the JR Banetsu-saisen rapid service train to reach Kitakata. The journey offers scenic views of the Japanese countryside and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the region.

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Getting around town

Once in Kitakata, exploring the city’s main attractions is a breeze. Most of the town’s highlights are within walking distance of the train station, making it convenient for visitors to navigate the city on foot. For those looking to venture a little further, renting a bicycle for the day is another popular option. Additionally, the Kitakata Circuit Bus offers a convenient way to explore the shopping and sightseeing spots, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer a guided tour.

The city of warehouses

One of the most distinctive features of Kitakata is its abundance of traditional Japanese storehouses, or kura. These storehouses have been converted into inns, shops, breweries, and specialty stores, adding to the city’s unique charm. Taking a leisurely walk around the town center allows visitors to appreciate the architectural beauty of these historic buildings. Many kura are concentrated in the city center, making it easy to explore these fascinating structures.

For a more immersive experience, a visit to Kitakata Kura no Sato is highly recommended. This open-air museum showcases culturally and historically significant Edo- and Meiji-era buildings, including the residences of two prominent merchant families. Exploring this museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the past and provides a deeper understanding of Kitakata’s rich heritage.

Food and sake

No visit to Kitakata would be complete without indulging in its famous ramen. With over 100 ramen restaurants competing to serve the best Kitakata ramen, visitors are spoiled for choice. Kitakata ramen is characterized by its thick, flat, curly noodles, served in a flavorful broth made from pork and niboshi (dried sardines). Each restaurant puts its own spin on this classic dish, making every bowl a unique culinary experience. Despite its popularity, Kitakata ramen remains a well-kept secret among the locals, who consider it a breakfast staple.

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Sake is another integral part of Kitakata’s culinary scene. The region’s reputation for rice production and quality makes it an ideal location for sake breweries. Many local breweries offer tours, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn about the sake-making process and sample different varieties. Some breweries require advanced booking, while others allow walk-ins. It is advisable to check the availability and requirements beforehand to ensure a seamless experience.

Local arts and crafts

Kitakata has a long-standing tradition of producing exquisite lacquerware and woodwork using paulownia wood. Visitors interested in traditional craftsmanship can participate in various workshops offered throughout the city. The Kinomoto Lacquerware Shop, for example, allows visitors to decorate their own lacquerware pieces, providing a hands-on experience and a deeper appreciation for this ancient art form. Other workshops include stencil dyeing, toasted rice cracker making, and traditional candy making, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in Kitakata’s artistic heritage.

In conclusion, Kitakata is a city that offers a unique blend of culinary delights, traditional craftsmanship, and historical charm. From its diverse ramen scene to its historic storehouses and thriving sake industry, Kitakata provides visitors with an authentic Japanese experience. Exploring the city’s main attractions on foot, indulging in its famous ramen, and immersing oneself in traditional arts and crafts are just a few of the many activities that make Kitakata a must-visit destination. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of japan, Kitakata has something to offer everyone.

Address And Maps Location:

Kitakata-shi, Fukushima-ken

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