History Japan Travel

Ouchijuku Post Town

On our second day in Aizuwakamatsu we decided to head south to the former postal town of Ouchijuku (大内宿) which lies along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route, which connected Aizu with Nikko during the Edo Period.

To get there you take a scenic train, complete with tatami mat seating, from Aizuwakamatsu to Yunokami Onsen (湯野上温泉駅) and then switch to a bus the rest of the way. That was the plan at least.

Tatami Train

When we arrive at Yunokami Onsen I realised I had stupidly forgotten to withdraw enough cash and there wasn’t an ATM nearby. As is so often the case in Japan, a kind stranger came to the rescue – Akira Hoshi, who works for a local tourist organisation, generously gave us a lift in his car to the nearest ATM and then took us all the way to Ouchijuku! ありがとうございましたあきらさん?

Ouchijuku Post Town

Set amidst rolling mountains, the old town of Ouchijuku consists of a dusty main street lined by beautifully restored thatched buildings, which house a variety of small shops, restaurants and traditional inns. Some of these buildings are said to be over 300 years old.


Restrictions set by the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period (1640) required travellers to make their long journeys on foot and as a result, post towns like Ouchijuku developed along the routes to provide travellers with food, accommodations and rest.

Thatched Roofs
Refreshing Lemon Soda

Parallel streams running along each side of the road are used to naturally keep drinks cool.

Ouchijuku Restaurant
Bright Banners
Ouchijuku Spirits
Old Timer
Flying Fish

Bright carp-shaped koinobori (鯉幟) wind socks flutter in the breeze.

Thatched Shop
Purple Cascade
Overlooking Ouchijuku

At the top of the street, a steep staircase leads up to a small shrine from where a panoramic view of Ouchijuku and the surrounding mountains can be enjoyed. Except for the occasional electricity pylon the environment is pristine.

Open Hearth

The Aizu region is famous for its buckwheat noodles and many of the restaurants in Ouchijuku offer the town’s unique handmade Negi-soba alongside other specialities like locally caught char fish roasted on sticks.

Char Fish
Making Soba

These guys made it look easy but making soba actually requires a lot of skill and patience.

Soba Master
Freshly Made Soba
Negi (Green Onion) Soba

Negi-soba is served with a leek used for eating instead of the usual chopsticks! Delicious.

Sleeping Shopkeeper

The afternoon heat was a little much for some people.

Dusting Down

A shopkeeper watering the ground to keep the dust down. Period crocs optional.


If you have time to spare on your way back be sure to check out the open-air foot spa next to Yunokami Onsen Station. It’s free and the perfect place to wait for your train!


Originally from the UK, David is designer and wanderer currently based in Kamakura. Prior to this, he lived in China and longs to explore more of this vast and varied land. He started Randomwire in 2003 to chronicle his travels and occasional musings. Feel free to drop him a line.

4 Comments Add New Comment

  1. emeqee says:

    Thank you very much. The photos look so great. This is the newest entry on my bucket list.

    2 thinks however blew my mind the most. The first is the train. Can I export it to Germany? And second is the fish. A very nice way of “packaging” them.

    Take care and keep it up.

  2. Aia-Ida says:

    Did the trip to ouchijuku take all day? Is it possible to enjoy the town under 5 hours (with transport from Yunokamionsen)?

    Thank you 🙂

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