Try Togakushi’s Renowned Soba
A place of purity, Togakushi is also well-known for its delicious ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles). The pure water of the mountains impart a fresh taste to the noodles which some claim, are the best in Japan. Numerous restaurants will happily serve you their own handmade soba with most conveniently located nearby the major shrines or trail heads. When visiting Togakushi, enjoying a soba meal is without doubt a requirement!
The consumption of soba dates back to pre-historic times when it was eaten in more simple, cruder forms. It was not until the Edo Period (1603-1868) that ‘soba kiri’ (cut noodles) became popular. Thought to have originated in Nagano, this simple, easy and healthy dish became a popular snack in Tokyo (then called Edo), and with that the national love of ‘Shinshu soba’ was born.
Nagano’s famed Shinshu soba can be found throughout the prefecture but most famously, Kurohime and Togakushi are renowned for their delicious noodles. Blessed with fertile volcanic ash soil, an abundance of pure water and higher altitude, Togakushi has the ideal climate and environment for growing soba with outstanding flavour.
Togakushi is home to many soba restaurants. Most are family-run and of course, pride themselves on their delicious hand-made noodles. Of those restaurants, Uzuruya is the most famous. Located directly across from the Chuusha (Middle Shrine), the restaurant has operated for hundreds of years and now draws visitors from all over Japan. The welcoming owners serve some of Togakushi’s best soba but be warned, unless you arrive early, you’re likely to have to queue outside.
There are no shortage of options with plenty of restaurants located around the Chuusha and Okusha, with others spread along the roads through Togakushi. Most if not all restaurants will serve ‘zaru soba’ (cold noodles with dipping sauce), ‘tempura soba’ (cold or hot soba with lightly battered and fried vegetables and/or prawn), and hot soba in soup. ‘Sansai soba’ (soba with mountain vegetables) is well-worth trying – one of those rare foods which is equally healthy as it is delicious!
‘Soba dango’ (soba dumplings) are another delicacy worth trying while there. Coated in sauce, these sticky balls are delicious snack, perfect to keep you energised for the walk between the shrines.
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