Deep in the Fukushima Prefecture is Ouchijuku, a small settlement exists that can transport you back in time. Ouchijuku is an old post station has been preserved and has since become a popular tourist attraction.
The History of Ouchijuku
Historically, Ouchijuku was an Edo era outpost on the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route through northern Japan. These routes were used by samurai to bring food and supplies to the main cities from country areas and by Feudal Lords as they went to into Edo, now Tokyo, for official business. This post station was established in 1640 and still has some of its first buildings still standing.
Back in the Edo era, these buildings were nothing special. But, since they were preserved, as you walk down the main street it looks like you’ve gone back in time. Lining the streets are traditional buildings with thatched roofs and small water canals on either side of the street.
Now, the town is just part of Shimogo-machi, only 20 kilometers away from the capital of Aizu. With the city fully modernized, but keeping the same traditional look, it's truly a magical place to visit just to experience the atmosphere.
The area has been designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, making sure the landscape never goes away.
The best view of the town is from the temple that overlooks the town. As you walk up the stairs, you’re treating to an unobstructed view of the town. The best view is during the wintertime when snow covers the thatched roofs and ground, making for a breathtaking powdery landscape.
You’ll be able to learn about Ouchijuku from the old Honjin, an inn for Imperial Lords. Converted into the Ouchi-juku Town Pavilion, this museum has many interesting artifacts on display showcasing the history of the town and area.
Try Some Ouchijuku Soba
Ouchijuku Soba is one of the most famous dishes from the region. The Takato-soba is served up just as they would have been in the Edo period, with leak used in place of chopsticks. This gives the entire dish a unique flavor that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
Another specialty dish from the region is Char Fish. These fish are skewed and then roasted on an open fire all throughout the town.
Both dishes can be found all over town in any of the many restaurants and stalls that now occupy the traditional buildings. Be wary though, majority of these places are in full Japanese, most of the time in just Kanji, so make sure to brush up on your skills before you arrive.
How to Get to Ouchijuku
Knowing how to get to Ouchijuku in the modern era is much easier than it would have been in the Edo area. Thanks to modern technology, you’re able to get there by train and either taxi to the city or a seasonal bus. Or, if you want to get there like the samurai of old, you can just walk from the train station.
The closest train stop is Yunokami Onsen Station. This station is close to Yunokami Onsen, so you’ll be able to relax after a long trek through the town. This station is on the Aizu Railroad line and not covered by the JR Pass. From Aizu, it’ll take roughly 35 minutes to get to this station.
Once you get to Yunokami Onsen Station, you either have to taxi to the town, or use a seasonal bus. The taxi fare for the ride is roughly 2,000 yen and only takes 15 minutes from the station.
In the warmer months, a season bus runs between Yunokami Onsen Station and Ouchijuku during April to November. This bus costs 1,000 yen for a day pass and only takes 20 minutes from station to town.
- Spot name: Ouchijuku
- Street address: Yamamoto Ouchi, Shimogou, Minamiaizu District, Fukushima 969-5207
- Access: A 15-minute taxi ride from the Yunokamionsen Station