Ouchijuku in the Snow
National Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings
OUCHIJUKU IN THE SNOW
At the end of 2017, my husband and I visited Ouchijuku, which is located in Fukushima Prefecture. After Christmas, Northen Japan, including Fukushima, was hit by heavy snowfall. It was a fantastic experience to view the snowy landscape, bathe in a hot spring and taste the local cuisine.
Although the weather was fine when we left Asakusa in the morning, the scenery gradually changed as the train moved toward Aizu. When we arrived at the Yunokami Onsen station, there was about 50-60 centimeters of snow on the ground. It seemed like we were in another world.
Ouchijuku is a former junction town located on the Shimotsuke Kaido road, traditional road which had connected Aizu-wakamatsu with Nikko during the Edo period. In Ouchijuku, 48 houses with thatched roofs line the road, and the townscape is reminiscent of the Edo period.
I wanted to take a picture of the main street that was beautifully covered with snow. With the help of a local guide, we tried to visit the hilltop shrine, which is located at the end of the main street up a steep set of stairs.
However, the way to the shrine was completely blanketed with snow. Plowing ahead through the drifts, our guide showed us the way. We followed his steps, but it was extremely difficult for me to walk in the deep snow.
In fact, I fell down twice on the way and sunk into the snow. It was a struggle to stand up as there was nothing to grip. It was really an embarrassing situation.
Without the guide's help, we could not have taken our panoramic photograph of the snow-covered street and we deeply appreciated his kind guidance.
That evening, we visited a family inn operated by Mrs. Asanuma, an Ouchijuku resident who serves local cuisine to her guests. The dinner served us featured local specialties, including mountain trout, which had been grilled over the open hearth (Irori fireplace), and dishes made by several kinds of wild vegetables, sliced meats and so on. The homemade Miso soup and cooked rice were also amazing. Mrs. Asanuma who was very friendly and talkative is a well-known matron in her district. She told us a lot about the town and her lifestyle.
After conversing with the residents, I realized how proud they are of their town and its history. Despite the cold winters, the residents are not allowed to remodel and upgrade the exteriors of ther houses because Ouchijuku is designated by the government as being an "Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings."
I recommend that you visit Ouchijuku in either spring or autumn. Our guide said that the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves are also beautiful, and we can visit forest park and other Onsens in the district. I did not have a chance to buy souvenirs because most of the shops were closed because of snow. I definitely wish to revisit it and meet the kind residents again.
OUCHIJUKU Snow Festival on 10th & 11th February, 2018
For more information, please contact 080-9634-3611
How to get there:
Asakusa --- <Revaty Aizu 111> ---- Aizu-Tajima --- <Relay 111> ---- Yunokami Onsen
8:00 a.m. -------- 12:24
12:34 --------- 13:02
15 minutes by taxi from Yunokami Onsen Station to Ouchijuku
Koboshi no yu, "SENSINTEI"
5 minutes from Yunokami Onsen Station by car, 20 minutes from Ouchijuku by car.
Inquiries to Shiogo Town Office, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Subsection
〒969-5345 1000 Oishi, Oaza, Shimogo-machi, Minamiaizu-gun, Fukushima-Pref.