These udon noodles speak of extraordinary particularity!
This is an udon noodle tasting set: One side is made from last year’s wheat and the other from this year’s.
You can try the set at Ichimonji Udon, a shop we will be introducing today.
Ichimonji Udon is a seemingly ordinary udon noodle shop located in Bizenfukuoka, a city of commerce that prospered during the Japanese medieval period. However, a strong love for this region is actually rooted within it – it’s a special udon shop that cannot be found anywhere else.
Grown locally in Setouchi city, Japanese wheat is used to make the udon noodles served at Ichimonji Udon. Giving them a slightly brown, unique flavor, the homemade millstone ground flour contains all the nutrients of the wheat including the germ. They’re noodles that can only be eaten here.
The vegetables used for the tempura are of course locally grown, as well.
Not only do they use fresh, safe ingredients, they also put effort in building relationships within the region. Whenever their customers and producers are happy, they are happy, too.
The person running this udon restaurant filled with love for the region is Mr. Hidechiyo Ohkura, who is also a farmer engaged in organic, pesticide-free, safe and secure farming.
On the day we visited, he had just received some hybrid ducklings (cross between a mallard and a domestic duck) to be used in hybrid duck farming, so he was happily showing them to us.
Mr. Ohkura not only runs an udon noodle restaurant, he’s also involved in various activities to revitalize the region.
One of those activities is the “Fukuoka no Ichi” market.
Apparently in Bizenfukuoka, which once prospered as the greatest commercial city of the Japanese middle ages, there was a market called Fukuoka no Ichi. As it was quite popular, an illustration of it even appears in the Ippen shonin eden (Illustrated Life of Saint Ippen), a Japanese national treasure.
Together with local volunteers, Mr. Ohkura revived Fukuoka no Ichi, which began hundreds of years ago. It’s held regularly, on the 4th Sunday of every month.
The current version of the market offers ingredients and products from carefully chosen local producers, and is always bustling with locals and tourists. It has now become an ‘existence essential’ for revitalizing the region.
In addition, in 2014 activities began with the goal of providing local ingredients for school lunches, which was based on a wish for children, who will bear the future of the region on their shoulders, to eat food rooted in the region’s climate and culture.
Based on this, Mr. Ohkura and local volunteers such as Wacca Farm, the “singing farmers” previously introduced even here on Setouchi Finder, persuaded the local authorities, brought the region together, and made it happen.
These are udon noodles packed with hometown love from an udon shop that loves the region just too much. Don’t you feel like having a slurp?
Those of you who do, take a walk in the Bizenfukuoka, loved greatly by Ichimonji Udon, and have a bowlful filled with the blessings of the region.
Location: 1588-1 Bizenfukuoka, Osafune-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture
Open: 10.00-19.00 (Closed every Wednesday + the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of every month
Katsutoshi Asai Producer and member of the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association. Born in Yokohama in 1974, Katsutoshi is married and has a young son. Although he started his career with an advertising agency, he went to join the Tower Records team. Katsutoshi was involved with brand management, sales campaigns, collaboration work, and live events. Through his career, he experienced being the Sales Promotion Manager, and the Manager of the Live Entertainment Department. However, in 2012, Katsuyoshi retired from Tower Records and moved to Seto city, Okayama prefecture - a place where he had no prior friends, connections or relatives. Soon after moving, he joined the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association, and in July 2013 founded Kokohore Japan and began a number of projects to re-task old traditional buildings, invent new specialty products, and work on regional branding. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/ Asami Asai Editor & Writer I mainly write about social news, music, and lifestyles. I was born and raised in Tokyo, but in 2012 I decided on a whim to move to Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture. I contribute to magazines such as Liniere, Inakagurashi no Hon, and ku:nel. I publish books for my 'interesting' friends, too, and direct and write for programs at FM Okayama. Everyday I write about people and things for both readers and listeners. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/
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