A traditional Edo townscape known for its noodles

Ouchi-juku, located in Shimogo-machi, Minamiaizu-gun, Fukushima-ken, is a charming post town that dates back to the Edo period in japan‘s history. This period, which spanned from 1603 to 1867, was characterized by a rigid social hierarchy and strict codes of conduct. Ouchi-juku served as a resting place for travelers on the Shimotsuke Kaido route, one of the most popular routes for traveling to Edo city, which is now known as Tokyo. Today, Ouchi-juku is famous for its well-preserved traditional buildings and its delicious negi-soba, a type of soba noodles served with local leeks.

The streets of Ouchi-juku are like stepping into a postcard from the past. The town is filled with buildings that are over 300 years old, with traditional thatched roofs and streets lined with running water. As you walk along the main road, you’ll notice the short but steep set of stairs that leads to a temple. From the temple, you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Ouchi-juku and its exquisite mountain setting. It truly feels like you’ve been transported back in time to the Edo period.

During the Edo period, feudal lords had to make regular trips to Edo city, and Ouchi-juku was a crucial stop along the way. The Shimotsuke Kaido route provided a scenic and convenient route for these lords to travel. However, with the opening of a new national route during the Meiji period, the popularity of the Shimotsuke Kaido route waned. Nevertheless, the historical significance of Ouchi-juku remains intact, and visitors can still experience the atmosphere of the Edo period in this well-preserved town.

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Legend has it that Prince Mochihito, a historical figure from the Heian period (794-1185), lived in hiding in Ouchi-juku after losing a battle. To honor his memory, the town has a shrine dedicated to Prince Mochihito. This adds to the historical charm of Ouchi-juku and further highlights its importance in Japan’s rich history.

Ouchi-juku is beautiful to visit year-round, with each season offering its own unique beauty. In the winter, the town is covered in a blanket of snow, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. The Ouchi-juku Snow Festival, held on the second weekend of February, is a must-see event that showcases the town’s winter beauty. In the spring, the streets are filled with vibrant flowers, adding a splash of color to the traditional townscape. The refreshing summers in Ouchi-juku are also a delightful time to visit, with pleasant temperatures and various festivals, including the Hange Mid-Summer Festival in July.

One of the highlights of visiting Ouchi-juku is trying the local cuisine. The town is famous for its handmade soba noodles, which are served with local leeks, known as negi-soba. This unique twist on the traditional soba dish adds a flavorful and aromatic element to the meal. What makes the dining experience in Ouchi-juku even more special is the use of leeks as cutlery instead of chopsticks. This adds a touch of authenticity to the Edo period dining experience.

In addition to the delicious soba noodles, Ouchi-juku offers other local specialties, such as char fish roasted over an open fire. The aroma of the fish wafting through the streets is irresistible, and it’s a must-try for seafood lovers. To learn more about the Edo period lifestyle and the history of Ouchi-juku, a visit to the Ouchi-juku Townscape Exhibition Hall is highly recommended. Located in the center of the main street, this exhibition hall showcases Edo period tools, authentic interiors, and various historical artifacts.

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Each of the beautiful thatched houses in Ouchi-juku serves a purpose, whether it’s a souvenir shop, a restaurant, or an accommodation. Visitors can explore these establishments and find unique souvenirs, including locally made sake, cotton products, folk art, and pottery. These souvenirs are not only a wonderful way to remember your visit to Ouchi-juku but also support the local community and its traditional crafts.

Before or after visiting Ouchi-juku, a stop at Yunokami Onsen is highly recommended. This nearby hot spring town offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. You can soak in the healing waters of the hot springs or enjoy an open-air footbath while taking in the scenic surroundings. Yunokami Onsen is the perfect place to unwind and reflect on your journey through Ouchi-juku.

To get to Ouchi-juku, the best option is to take a bus or a taxi from Yunokami Onsen Station. If you’re coming from Tokyo, you can take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama Station and then transfer to the Banetsu West Line to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. From there, you can transfer to the Aizu Railway to Yunokami Onsen Station. The journey takes approximately three hours, but the scenic views along the way make it well worth the trip.

In conclusion, Ouchi-juku is a hidden gem in Fukushima-ken that offers a unique glimpse into Japan’s Edo period. Its well-preserved traditional buildings, delicious local cuisine, and picturesque natural surroundings make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers looking for an authentic cultural experience. Whether you’re strolling along the streets lined with traditional thatched houses, trying the famous negi-soba noodles, or admiring the panoramic view from the temple, Ouchi-juku is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, make sure to add this charming post town to your itinerary when exploring Fukushima-ken and discover the beauty of Japan’s rich history in Ouchi-juku.

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Address And Maps Location:

Shimogo-machi, Minamiaizu-gun, Fukushima-ken

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