Whenever I flick through a pamphlet filled with photographs of Fukushima, there is a certain photo that makes everyone go “oooooooooooh”: the photo of Ouchi-juku.
It just so happened to begin snowing for the first time this winter on the day that I visited Ouchi-juku, which gave the whole day an exciting atmosphere.
Upon arriving, I understood from one glance what everyone loves about Ouchi-juku.
Surrounded by mountains, Ouchi-juku is tucked away in Shimogo Town, Minamiaizu.
The olde-worlde buildings, thatched rooves, smells and sights of traditional snacks being cooked, and the absence of noise of cars and roads…Ouchi-juku really feels like it exists in its own period of history.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), Ouchi-juku was used as a post town, used by feudal lords, travelers and passersby as a place to stop for the evening and rest their weary feet. The streets are incredibly well-preserved, and a large amount of care and attention goes into keeping the town looking as it did hundreds of years ago.
Although there are a number of giftshops in this area, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the look is all that is left of the traditional life style of Edo period Japan. Many of the buildings are still inhabited by local families; some of whom allow guests to stay as a guesthouse. Moreover, a number of the on-site restaurant staff provide the same home-made, local food for day visitors as they would for their overnight guests.
The route that runs through Ouchi-juku is called the Kaido Route, which continues from Imai in Tochigi all the way to Aizu Wakamatsu. This makes it really easy to imagine a travel route going through Nikko, to Ouchi-juku, and finishing in Aizu Wakamatsu City.
A wonderful view of the whole of Ouchi-juku can be seen from the top of a hill, near a local shrine. The walk to the top takes around 3 minutes, but the stairs can be slippy during wet or snowy weather, so take care!
One of the local dishes that is famous in Ouchi-juku is ‘negi-soba’. Negi means leek in Japanese, so you may assume that this dish consists of soba noodles, and leeks cooked in a certain way. In fact, negi soba includes soba noodles and toppings, which you are supposed to eat with a leek, occasionally chewing off the end to mix the flavor in with the rest of your meal.
I loved the taste of the soba, and I really liked the very traditional interior of the restaurant in Ouchi-juku, but I have to say that the taste of the leek’s flavour was super strong! I could still taste it at dinner time! But it was a really fun experience.
The snow does fall extremely heavily in this area, as you can see from this photo of Ouchi-juku, taken during the Snow Festival that is held every year in February:
I got to visit the snow festival this year. Read about my visit here.
Nearby Tourist Attractions
You can reach Ouchi-juku by bus from Yunomaki Onsen (roughly 22 minutes, every 1.5 hours!) , hire a taxi from Yunomaki Onsen or Ashinomaki Onsen, or drive directly there by rent-a-car.
For more information on Ouchi-juku, please click here!
Ouchi-juku is included in the Minamiaizu 3 day route I made. Click on the picture below for more information on this!