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The Summer Tradition of a Nation That Loves Noodles Taste the Origin of Japanese Noodles

A Smooth and Cool Sensation:
Noodles from a Nation with Clean Water

If you ask a Japanese person what reminds them of summer in Japan, they are most likely going to say somen. Somen are very thin white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. It is silky smooth and easy to eat. Cooled down with running water, it is refreshing to eat during hot days, especially in the summer.

Somen is the oldest Japanese noodle to date. In the nation that loves noodles, the Japanese have been eating somen for over 1,200 years. This is long before the introduction of soba, udon, or ramen. In Japan, somen originated from Omiwa Shrine in Miwa. The shrine is one of the oldest in Japan. Back in the day, the son of the chief priest created somen in order to help the city’s citizens overcome hunger. Even now ‘Miwa Somen’ is known for its high quality and long history.

Somen is made from dried noodles that are boiled in water and then, cooled down. Made with soft water from an island nation known for its high quality water, it can be said that somen is the Japanese equivalent to reimen (Chinese cold noodles).

Somen is very thin. It is about 1 millimeter in width. This is achieved by twisting and pulling wheat flour repeatedly. By the end, the noodles are 2 meters in length. This technique originated from a time period when the kitchen knife did not exist.

The Sight of Clean, Cold, White Noodles Floating on the Cold Water Is Beautiful

When you pick up the noodles with your chopsticks, the thin, long, smooth, white threads will look cool and refreshing. The soup will wrap around the thin noodles once you dip them into bowl.

‘Miwa Yamato’ has been around for over 300 years. On this ancient restaurant’s menu, the dish ‘Manyo’ is very popular. It is comprised of somen plus the addition of Kaki-no-ha zushi (pressed sushi wrapped in persimmon leaf) and Kuzu Mochi (mochi cakes made from kuzuko). Kaki-no-ha zushi and Kuzu Mochi are both famous in Miwa as well. The Manyo dish will give you the opportunity to try all three of Miwa’s staple foods. During the winter, we recommend you try their ‘Nyumen’ (warm somen).

Next to Miwa Yamato, the ‘Menyu-kan’ offers an interesting experience. At the Menyu-kan, you can learn the historical and cultural aspects of somen. From September to May, you can even try to make your own somen. Think of the Menyu-kan as a somen museum.

After you make your own somen, you can either eat it, or take it home. It is an unusual experience that has been getting great reviews. In the summer, you can enjoy delicious cold somen. In the winter, you can try making your own! Go to Miwa and check it out!

The noodles of the ‘Manyo’ dish are super thin at 0.6 millimeters in width. The dish includes Kaki-no-ha zushi (mackerel and salmon) and Kuzu Mochi as well. Cost: 1,200 yen.

INFORMATION

Miwa Yamamoto / Restaurant ・Menyu-kan (Somen museum)
Time
9:00 - 17:00 (Restaurant 11:00- 15:30)
Address
880 Hashinaka, Sakurai-shi, Nara
Admission
Making somen experience ¥1,080(Sep〜May)
Contact
0744-44-2001(Menyu-kan)、0744-43-6661(Restaurant)

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