We have one spot we’d love for you to visit while on your weaving tour: Yoshida Udon. Actually, weavers have a deep relationship to udon. Since the old days, weaving workshops were run by women, but to prepare for lunch, they would have to stop the looms. To avoid that, the men of this town would cater udon to the ladies. Perhaps that’s why the texture and chewiness of Yoshida Udon’s fare feels rather manly.

If you’re a weaver and you want to treat your wholesale partner from the city to a meal, this will immediately charm them. Families living around the weaving workshops have increasingly started to sell udon out of their homes. Many of them are open only at noon; a holdover from the days where they paid for room and board by selling food. Over 50 of these houses are in Fujiyoshida alone! Since these homes are also businesses, their doors are always open, as they used to be long ago. Horse meat and cabbage are staple ingredients, though differences are depending on the shop. Every one of them has their own way of preparing “suridane” - a condiment made from sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, and shichimi - so it can be fun to try and compare the flavors between shops.

Nowadays udon is conveniently cheap, but originally it was a ceremonial meal reserved for special days. Grains are valuable in a region like this, where crops are hard to grow. And unlike “houtou” noodle stew, which is made quick and easy, udon has to be rested for one night. Even now, this town has kept the tradition of serving udon as the last meal in a wedding reception. It appears to symbolize a prayer that, like the sturdy noodles, the bride and groom’s union is everlasting.

Now, once you’ve had your fill of some hearty udon, set off and find your next “ikigai”!

ON THE TRIP Editing Team
Planning: Akihito Shiga
Writing: Mia Nohara (01-08), Mana Wilson (09-12)
Translation: Sara Scarf, Jean Souki
Photography: Hiroshi Honma

※ This guide was created based on documents and interviews and includes some interpretation done by us at ON THE TRIP. Theories differ between experts, so try to find out what really happened on your travels!

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