Protecting the thatched roof district ”Ouchijuku”

Protecting the thatched roof district

Taking a break on the historic streets

This is an old post station in Shimogo Town, Minamiaizu, Fukushima Prefecture. Ouchijuku has thatched roof buildings lined up on both sides of the town’s main street, Kyukaido. It is a major tourist destination with one million visitors annually.
Ouchijuku opened as a post town of Aizu West Road in Edo period. At one time, the town flourished enough to have ”Sankin Kotai”, the bi-annual passage of the feudal lords, but by the end of the Edo period, half of the citizens were farmers, while the other half operated inns. At the start of the Meiji era, modifications were made to the roads with a new road being built that no longer passed through Ouchijuku. As a result, the town lost the bustle as a post town, and became a true farming village.

Preserving the thatched roof houses.

With the arrival of the Showa era, the town became modernized with electric poles and asphalt roads. But after the 1980s, what remained of the old town came to be valued. It was designated as a Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings and preservation efforts began in earnest. That is why Ouchijuku is preserved so beautifully in the present.
However, the preservation and maintenance of the thatched roofs requires time, labor and money. Yet still, people are eager to preserve this landscape, and continue their preservation efforts. There are training sessions held every Wednesday about the thatched roof, the symbol of Ouchijuku.
”One must recognize the need to conserve techniques, otherwise, they will be forgotten. And that must be done by the town’s citizens.” said Kazue Sato from Ouchijuku Tourist Association.

Enjoy the relaxing country

Nakata visited in the morning, so there were few tourists, but there were people making dumplings and others frying rice cakes. You could feel the lives of the people. We strolled around Ouchijuku town, bought rice cakes and ate them. Time passed slowly here.

One of the famous food from Ouchijuku is ”soba”, or buckwheat noodle. It is known by the name of Koen soba. The noodle is made from 100% buckwheat, and you use green onions instead of chopsticks to eat it. They brought the famous Koen soba from the back of the store. A stick of green onion is placed on top of the bowl with the soba noodles. Our group took a look at it and exclaimed out loud with someone commenting ”But it looks difficult to eat.” The server said ”That’s right, it’s difficult to eat!” and served the bowl with a huge smile on his face.
Our laughter echoed for long time, and time passed slowly and peacefully.


Ouchi, Shimogomachi, Minami Aizu, Fukushima