Noodles, Noodles, Noodles at Nikko’s 2016 Soba Matsuri

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December 12, 2016

We took advantage of a beautiful autumn day to travel out to Nikko’s Daiyagawa Park for the annual Soba Matsuri. Dozens of soba makers had set up restaurant tents all through the festival grounds. Rooms made from clear plastic siding let the noodle makers show off their skills while we waited for seats to open up.

The noodle makers joked around and explained their craft to the onlookers as they pounded, rolled, and chopped noodles into individual portions that were then collected and hurried off to the kitchen area. There, another set of cooks boiled, rinsed, dressed, and served the fresh noodles to order.

We opted for “mori soba” at Hokkaido Soba (located in Monbetsu City on the Northeast coast of Hokkaido) The noodles were thin and chewy and just about perfect. For ¥500 though, we expected a little more than we got. However, dining outdoors amidst the beautiful fall foliage and sunshine added a distinct charm to the meal that more than made up for the steep price. And, although seats were limited we were able to share a table with a few other diners and together, we made good use of the big pot of chopped green onions and wasabi paste.

Although we were full after the noodles, had we been after a side dish or dessert there were plenty to choose from. Besides standard festival fare like karaage and french fries, there were tents selling everything from deep fried sweet potato sticks to drip coffee, ranging from about ¥200 to ¥1,000.

Getting to the the festival is easy. Free shuttle buses from both Tobu Shimoimaichi and Tobu Nikko stations as well as the several dozen parking lots devoted to the festival run regularly.

Dress for changeable fall weather and be prepared for a walk as the festival grounds are split into two parts and to fully walk around both areas takes about half an hour.

Restrooms and trash collection areas are sprinkled liberally throughout the festival grounds; the grounds themselves are paved and manicured and easily accessible by wheelchair and stroller.

The festival is held every November. For exact dates and times, call the Executive Committee for Nikko Soba Festival at +81-288-21-5170 or visit Nikko City’s English website.

Joel Neff

Joel studied Communication at Northern Arizona University way back in the 90s and has spent the past twenty years trying to figure out what to do next. So far that has included working as a photographer, teacher, writer, editor, game maker, and dog walker. He still doesn't know what's next.

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