Walk around what feels like a jump to the past in Fukushima Prefecture’s Ouchi-juku. This isolated village boasts thatched-roof houses and natural streets making you feel at one with the people who might have lived here hundreds of years ago. Nestled in the southwestern mountains of Fukushima, Ouchi-juku is a great spot to visit thanks to its unique charm and history.
This village was established under the post station system during the Edo period, these villages were vital to travelers. In 1981, the well-preserved streets prompted Ouchi-juku’s designation as an Important Preservation District for a Group of Historic Buildings. It isn’t difficult to see why—the village looks as it did during its heyday. And with no telephone or electric wires above ground, the view from the top of the hill overlooking the village is marvelous. It is a picturesque village where you can lose yourself to the flow of time.
The traveler’s road that used to run through this village was called the Shimotsuke Kaido Route, or the Aizu Nishi Kaido Route. Ouchi-juku not only connected Aizu to Nikko, it also connected Aizuwakamatsu and Imaichi, a post town on the Nikko Kaido Route in Tochigi Prefecture. This road was frequented by many travelers as well as by the processions of feudal lords who had to travel to and from Edo periodically. Travelers of the Edo period rested and relieved their fatigue from traveling at this village.
Nowadays, festivals and events help draw in the modern traveler. The annual Snow Festival in February turns Ouchi-juku into a pretty candlelit scene. Visit in July to see a procession of Edo-period dressed dancers, where you can even wear a happi coat and join in! And when you’re feeling hungry be sure to try some of the local specialties: fresh leek buckwheat noodles, called negi soba; and stick-roasted char fish. There’s a little bit of everything for the modern visitor to Ouchi-juku.