Enjoy Unrivaled Picturesque Scenery in Ouchijuku, Fukushima! An All-In-One Guide, From Access to Its Winter Festival
Ouchijuku is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Minamiaizu in Fukushima Prefecture. As you walk along the town's main street, you will find thatched-roof houses neatly lined up in a row. This article will introduce you to some of the reasons why you should visit Ouchijuku.
- About Ouchijuku
- 1. Try Handmade “Negi Soba”, a Local Specialty, at Yamagataya
- 2. Take a Look at Life Back in the Day at Ouchijuku Townscape Museum
- 3. Capture Your Best Photo of the Day at Mt. Yudono
- 4. Relax at Honke Ogiya, a 300-Year-Old Traditional Japanese Inn
Established around 1643 as a post station along the Aizu Nishi Kaido trade route connecting Nikko and Aizu, Ouchijuku was always crowded with travelers. In the latter half of the 19th century, a new route was built in the area, which led to a drop in activity. But because of this, the streets and houses of Ouchijuku are well preserved, and the atmosphere of the historic town is still intact today.
The easiest way to travel from Tokyo to Ouchijuku is by taking the Tobu Railway’s limited express train “Revaty Aizu”. Directly linking Asakusa Station to Aizu-Tajima Station (the closest station to Ouchijuku), the journey will take approximately 3.5 hours.
1. Try Handmade “Negi Soba”, a Local Specialty, at Yamagataya
A specialty of Ouchijuku, negi soba is a type of buckwheat noodle dish known as Takato soba, which is eaten using a leek ("negi") instead of chopsticks. Use the leek to scoop up the noodles, and have a bite of the leek as a condiment as well. The best place to have negi soba is at Yamagataya, located around the center of Ouchijuku. The handmade soba at Yamagataya is made from 100% locally sourced buckwheat flour, and its chewy texture and rich fragrance complement the sharp and spicy taste of the leek. At the restaurant, you can also catch an impressive sight of the chef making the soba.
2. Take a Look at Life Back in the Day at Ouchijuku Townscape Museum
The museum’s building is a recreation of Ouchijuku’s "Honjin", the accommodation facility that was used in the past by prominent figures such as feudal lords (daimyo). At the museum, you can see a replica of the “norikomi” gate, that was used exclusively by daimyo as they entered the facility on their sedan chairs, and the daimyo's lounge called “jodan-no-ma”. The museum also exhibits approximately 1,300 items, such as farming and household goods that were used by people living in town, giving you an insight into life at Ouchijuku back in the day.
3. Capture Your Best Photo of the Day at Mt. Yudono
Located at the far end of Ouchijuku, at the foot of Mt. Yudono, is the Ouchijuku Viewpoint, where you can see a panoramic view of the town. A beautiful, breathtaking view of the town awaits as you go up the steep steps to the viewpoint. The nostalgic scenery of Ouchijuku will surely make you feel like you’ve just traveled back in time to the Edo Period.
4. Relax at Honke Ogiya, a 300-Year-Old Traditional Japanese Inn
A traditional Japanese inn located around the center of town. The thatched-roof house is one of the most exceptional houses in the village and an important cultural property of Japan. The inn prides itself on its hearty meals. Dinner is served in the main house by a fireplace and consists of local dishes cooked by the proprietress, including char-grilled salted trout and horse meat sashimi from Aizu. After a long day of sightseeing, you will definitely feel refreshed after eating a full meal in front of the cozy fireplace.
5. Enjoy the Fireworks Light up the Winter Sky at the Ouchijuku Snow Festival
The Aizu region is known for its heavy snowfall. Ouchijuku in the winter is covered in snow, which gives it a completely different look from the summer. For the Ouchijuku Snow Festival, held annually on the second weekend in February, the snow-covered, quiet village is gorgeously illuminated. On the first day of the festival at dusk, handmade snow lanterns are lit up, and fireworks are displayed in the evening. Large fireworks bloom beautifully in the crisp and clear winter sky - it is such a dramatic sight!
Various events are held during the day, but you wouldn’t want to miss going out for an evening stroll. Take a moment to enjoy the magical sight of the illuminated lanterns in the snow.
What do you think? The unchanged landscape and scenery of Ouchijuku will make you feel as if you’ve time-traveled back to the Edo Period. It is definitely worth a visit!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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