A post town with thatched-roof residences in a row
In Ouchi-juku, there are thatched-roof houses which stand out for their roofs resembling books that have been opened upside-down. They have been made from perennials such as pampas grass and reeds, and it’s plainly evident from the beautifully cut and arranged cross-sections that the artisans’ technique and hard work were put to good use. Ouchi-juku, which is located in Minami-Aizu County in Fukushima Prefecture, has these thatched-roof houses lined up on either side of the road. Long ago, the town was used as the No. 2 post station on the Aizu-Nishi Kaido Road linking Aizu with the former Shimotsuke Province (now Nikko-Imaichi) which was used for the Edo Era policy of sankin kotai and transportation of rice. Feudal lords and travelers of those times came to Ouchi-juku to recover from their fatigue. Almost all of the houses are now souvenir shops, dining establishments and minshuku B&Bs, and at this time, Ouchi-juku has transitioned from farming over to a tourism industry. To preserve the beautiful townscape and the thatched-roof houses, traditionally learned techniques for the maintenance of the houses and efforts passed down over the decades by the entire town have been applied.
Many traditional events over the seasons
Throughout the year, there are a variety of events held to mark the four seasons for the tourists at Ouchi-juku. When the scent of flowers signify the coming of spring, examples of traditional Japanese culture such as koi nobori swimming in the skies and the Kannon Festival are held, with the iris blossoms heralding the arrival of summer. Also events such as summer festivals and the Bon dances boldly feature the face of Japan. The autumn glittering with gingko and the snowscapes of winter imbuing the town are recommended, too. The February Ouchi-juku Snow Festival includes snow-made lanterns which when they are lit up provide a phenomenal view.