Trip to Ōuchi-juku(Fukushima)

My aunt and her husband Mr. Don, came to Japan from Canada.
This was their first visit in Japan in 7 years and I was struggling thinking about where to take them.
I needed someplace that my aunt still never visited and, at the same time, something that would amaze her husband, foreign to Japan.
I was searching for something that would make him say “WOW”! After thinking about it for a while, I found the right place: Ōuchi-juku in Aizuwakamatzu, Fukushima prefecture,
South of Miyagi Prefecture.

Ōuchi-juku, in Minami-aizu, Fukushima, is a post town with traditional thatched buildings existing since the Edo Period (1603 – 1868).
It prospered thanks to the many feudal lords (Daimyo) such as “Date Masamune” “Toyatomi Hideyoshi” and travelers that used it to rest during their long journeys.

“Negi Soba!” (Leek soba noodles)

Is a dish eaten with leeks instead of chopsticks!
Is delicious accompanied with grated “Daikon” radish soup!
It looks a bit silly maybe, but don’t worry, is very tasty!

Recently I went to eat soba with my friends of the “Hot inn ENSOKU club” (ENSOKU means field trip) but it was very different from this one!
There are actually a lot of different soba dishes and flavors.
Japanese culture is very deep indeed!

Ōuchi-juku Observatory

A picture taken from the “Ōuchi-juku Observatory” on the top of a small hill in the very inner side of the village.

Where are we? What era it is?
This view confuses my concept of space and time!

“Ōuchi-juku will be perfect for my retirement!”
“I’ve heard that here the “Negi Soba” (Leek soba noodles) is a famous dish! I want to eat it now!”
“Hachibe, you’re such a glutton!”
I imagined a comical scene in a Japanese historical drama-MITO-KŌMON.

The “Negi Soba” is something you absolutely have to try when in “Ōuchi-juku”.
We went to eat it in the famous “Misawaya” tea house.
There are tables and chairs in the tea house so, don’t worry if you’re not conformable with the traditional Japanese way of sitting “Seiza”!
We sat on a table around the traditional fireplace called “irori”. We were very lucky to be able to eat the freshly made autumn “shin-soba”!
Eating it, we enjoyed the rich, mellow fragrance and taste of the autumn itself.
The grated “Daikon” radish was also incredibly delicious inside the soba soup.
Even Mr. Don was so happy that exclaimed “OISHII”, delicious in Japanese!

After the soba, we had a cup of original sake from Aizu. My aunt and Mr. Don looked very happy and satisfied.
That look on their face, reminded me of all the good times we spent together during my stay in Canada.
I was happy and a bit melancholic at the same time.

My aunt and Mr. Don seemed to have enjoyed more than I’ve expected the places, the culture and the seasonal foods I’ve introduced to them.
They actually said “We want to come back here someday!”.
Next time I would like to stay one night all together in one of the famous traditional thatched buildings of Ōuchi-juku!

By Abe (staff) Translation by Davide