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Taste of Nature

Kuzumaki, a town famous for water mills and soba

In Kuzumaki, Iwate, the production of soba (buck wheat noodle) has been common due to its cold whether. The technique to produce soba with water milles has been passed down from generation to generation since the taisho era. The restaurant called “mori no soba ya” which maintains such a traditional taste since it was founded 27 years ago.

When you enter the restaurant, there are the dengaku mochi and grilled yamame in the hearth, which stimutes your appetise.

 

Freshly grounded, freshly made, freshly boiled

We have ordered the “mori no soba zen” from a variety of menu such as “Tempura soba” “Sansai (wild vegetables) soba” “Tororo (grated yam) soba.” It is a dish which you can enjoy two types of soba and grilled yamame. The eggs and natto (fermented soybeans) used as a thickener makes the soba mild and sweet. The delicious flavor of the soup stock made from the niboshi (Dried sardines) and dried bonito produced in Iwate mkaes the soba flavourful, and it is well matched with the nishime and tempra made with home-grown vegetables. The warm soba is served later so that the noodle does not become soggy, which represents the hospitality of the restaurant.

The desserts are the Sobagaki with black beans and kinako and the miso-flavored dengaku mochi, which makes you enjoy different tastes of soba.

Made by Kuzumaki’s people, with Kuzumaki’s ingredients, in a Kuzumaki’s traditional way

The secret of such a delicious taste is to grind buckwheat flours with a water mill. By grinding the Kuzumaki buckwheat with millstone slowly spinned by the water mills, the flavor becoms good because it does not create unecessary heats. Since it is a manual work, only a necessary amount of flours to serve for customers is produced. The rice flours and kinako (soybean flours) are produced in the same way.

The soba is made by local elderly women by hand. “When we put our hearts into kneating it while hoping it to be delicious, it somehow becomes delicious,” said the restaurant owner Ms. Akiko Kouke. By kneating it slowly, the soba becomes chewy and springy. Anybody can observe how they are making the soba freely on the second floor of the restaurant.

Traditional water mill soba passed down from the Taisho era

“Even though it is a same dish, the one made by old women is somehow more delicious. I did not want such a taste to dispear.” said Ms. Kouke. She stood up to pass down the tradition of soba made with water milles which was almost forgotten. It took 10 years for her to persuade local poeple who disagreed with her who was trying to open her restaurant. It was 27 years ago since she finally opened her restaurant. Since she wanted local old women to enjoy working, she opened it with them and chose the name of the restaurant “mori no soba ya” together. Since its foundation, they maintains the traditional way of soba making unique to Kuzumaki.

My impression

On the day we visited there, we joined the event for soba watching where local people go for watching soba fields together. Each person enjoys it in a different way, such as writing a poem themed soba or taking photos of soba. At the moment, I found myself understand a bit how important the soba is for people in the region. The “mori no soba ya” has been not only passing down the taste of the soba but also maintaining the identity of people in Kuzumaki.

Mori no sobaya

Address: 〒028-5403 Izumi-gun Kuzumaki cho, Hakushi 1-36 (about 7 minutes by car from Iwate prefectural Kuzumaki High school)
Phone number: 0195-66-3616
URL: https: // iwatetabi.jp/spot/detail.spn.php? Spot_id = 1404
Opening hours: 10: 30 ~ 17: 00
Closed: No holiday
Access: It is approximately 48 minutes by car from JR Mido station, approximately 10 minutes by car from Kuzumaki Town office

Photography & Interview by Ichita Komori & Remo Sugimoto
Edited by Remo Sugimoto