The Imaichi area of the historical Nikko region is known for its buckwheat and in fact registers the second-largest harvest in all of Tochigi Prefecture. The bountiful nature, cool climate, and pristine water from the Nikko mountain range are perfect for cultivation, and the buckwheat grown there is renowned for its fragrance and sweet taste.
Imaichi's reputation for delicious buckwheat noodles (soba) goes back hundreds of years, when the town developed as a stopover point for people pilgrimaging to Nikko along the Nikko tree-lined road. Soba became popular as a quick, easy meal for weary travelers and soon became firmly entrenched in the area’s culinary culture.
Today, Imachi has over 30 shops offering their own handmade soba noodles. Many visitors enjoy comparing the different tastes of each shop’s unique recipe. In March of every year, the town is host to the National Handmade Soba Eating Contest.
This year, the soba-eating contest was held on March 23. Alright, I didn't get the word out in time for that, but it's not too late to make plans to attend the Nikko Soba Festival, which is held every November to commemorate the buckwheat harvest.
At last November's Soba (Buckwheat) Festival.