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Ouchi juku

A sightseeing village frozen in time, where you can get a sense of life as a traveler in Japan’s Edo period

This Fukushima village offers a taste of rural life from the Edo Period, with thatched-roof houses and not an electricity pole in sight. Along its main road you’ll find a selection of old-style shops, restaurants, and inns of the kind which once served travelers along the vital Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route from Aizu to Nikko.

Rest stop towns like this were essential for travelers, as the majority of commoners would be traveling by foot. Thankfully, you’ll be able to just take the train here, by heading to Yunokami Onsen Station on the Aizu Line, from where you can get a taxi to reach Shimogo Town. Although your means of arrival will be modern, everything else will be totally authentic — just as it was in Ouchi-juku hundreds of years ago.

To learn more about the purpose and history of towns like this, head along to the town museum — formerly an inn reserved for high-status individuals. The town shrine and temple are also worth a look. Like the travelers of old, you’ll also want to grab some good food to prepare for whatever journey lies ahead. The area is famous for its soba noodles, so you can’t go wrong with a fresh bowl of negisoba: noodles with green onion.

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