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Iwate food

Wanko Soba Noodles

Wanko Soba Wanko Soba Noodles

Buckwheat noodles (soba) are served up as a lively eating contest. This local favorite began almost four centuries ago as an efficient way to provide guests with “all-you-can-eat” noodles, and continues today as one of Iwate’s most famous food experiences. Count your bite-sized bowls as you down them, but beware! Slide the lid on your bowl quickly when you’re done, or one of the servers will slide in a new portion for you to eat.

Wanko Soba Noodles is served with various condiments, such as: tuna sashimi; nameko, mushrooms with a slightly gelatinous coating, simmered in soy sauce; daikon radish pickled in miso with crushed walnuts; harako, or salmon roe. Sometimes people forget about the contest and take their time to enjoy the delicious soba and the condiments. Some restaurants offer a set menu of condiments and several bowls of soba, for those who opt not to eat them contest-style. In Iwate, there are many soba restaurants, each with different soba, condiments, and dipping sauce. A reservation is often required for Wanko Soba Noodles, so check before going to a soba restaurant.

Origins
Wanko Soba Noodles is said to begin when Nambu Toshinao (1599-1632), lord of the Nambu domain that encompassed most of Iwate, visited Hanamaki around 380 years ago. Soba was a local specialty, but afraid that Toshinao might consider it too rustic his retainers served an elegantly arranged bite-sized bowl of noodles first. Toshinao was delighted, and ordered seconds. Then thirds. And so on. This style of serving small portions until guests were satisfied became the accepted etiquette for hosts in the region, and evolved into the Wanko Soba Noodles we know today. The spirited calls of the servers and the element of competition were later additions, but have become irreplaceable parts of this unique experience.

Konjikido Central Dais

Naming
But what about the name? Well, “wanko” is the word for “bowl” in the local dialect, and refers to the tiny bowls in which the noodles are served. Depending on the restaurant, about eight to fifteen bowls of Wanko Soba Noodles is the noodle equivalent of one regular bowl of soba.


Annual Competitions and Records
Wanko Soba Noodles is now mainly served in the cities of Hanamaki, Morioka, and Ichinoseki. Additionally, Hanamaki and Morioka host annual timed Wanko Soba Noodles competitions, the former in February and the latter in November. The 2009 Hanamaki champion downed 218 bowls in just five minutes, while Morioka saw an amazing “three-peat” by 2007-2008’s defending champion, who put away 383 bowls in just ten minutes—a five minute handicap over her competitors.

Wankosoba Noodle Restaurant

Hatsukoma Honten (Morioka city)
10-21 Hachiman, Morioka
Tel: 019-651-7184
Hours: 11:00-14:00
(Reservation required after 14:00)
(Sundays & National Holidays:
11:00-15:00)
Holidays: Open daily
(Sundays: until 15:00)
Price range: from 2,520 yen/person

Chokurian (Morioka city)
1-12-13 Nakanohasi Dori, Morioka
Tel: 019-624-0441
Hours: 11:00-21:00
(No orders taken after 20:00)
Holidays: Wednesdays
(Opens in case of National Holidays)
Price range: from 2,940 yen/person

Azumaya Honten (Morioka city)
1-8-3 Nakanohashi Dori, Morioka
Tel: 019-622-2252
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Holidays: Closed irregularly
Price range: from 2,625 yen/person

Azumaya Otesaki Ten (Morioka city)
17-40 Uchimaru Morioka
Tel: 019-623-7540
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Holidays: Tuesdays
Price range: from 2,624 yen/person

Azumaya Ekimae Ten (Morioka city)
8-11 Morioka Ekimae Dori, Morioka
Tel: 019-622-2233
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Holidays: Closed irregularly
Price range: from 2,625 yen/person

Azumaya Bekkan (Morioka city)
1-8-4 Nakanohashi Dori, Morioka
Tel: 019-622-2288
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Holidays: Mondays
Price range: from 2,625 yen/person

Yabuya Fesan Ten (Morioka city)
1-44 Morioka Ekimae Dori, Morioka
Tel: 019-654-7689
Hours: 10:00-22:00
(No orders taken after 21:30)
Holidays: Closed irregularly
Price range: from 1,575 yen/person
(Limited to 20 bowls of Soba)

Iwachu Tekki Kan (Morioka city)
2-23-9 Minami Senboku, Morioka
Hours: 11:00-15:00
Holidays: Opens everyday
Price range: from 2,415 yen/person

Hatsukoma Morioka Inter Ten
(Takizawa village)
75-5 Kami Takehana, Ogama, Takizawa
Tel: 019-687-5001
Hours: Reservation required
Holidays: Closed irregularly
Price range: from 2,205 yen/person

Yabuya Sohonten
7-13 Fupparicho, Hanamaki
Tel: 0198-24-1011
Hours: 11:00-21:00
(No orders taken after 20:00)
Holidays: 1st & 3rd Mondays
(Opens in case of National Holidays)
Price range: from 3,150 yen/person

Kajiya
2-19 Azumacho, Hanamaki
Tel: 0198-22-3322
Hours: 11:00-14:20 / 17:00-21:00
(No orders taken after 20:00)
Holidays: Wednesdays
(Opens in case of National Holidays)
Price range: from 3,200 yen/person

Kinkon Tei
11-88 Nishi Miyanome, Hanamaki
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Holidays: New Year’s Day
Price range: from 2,524 yen/person

Yamaneko Ken Ekimae Ten
1-3-3 Koshio, Hanamaki
Tel: 0198-31-2001
Hours: 10:00-18:00
Holidays: New Year’s Eve and
New Year’s Day
Price range: from 2,500 yen/person

Chokurian Ekimae Ten
2-36 Kami Otsuki Koji, Ichinoseki
Tel: 0191-23-2379
Hours: 11:00-19:00
Holidays: Wednesdays
Price range: from 2,625 yen/person

Chokurian Bypass Ten
32-1 Nakano, Yamanome, Ichinoseki
Tel: 0191-25-2166
Hours: 11:00-19:00
Holidays: Thursdays
(Opens in case of National Holidays)
Price range: from 2,625 yen/person

Bashokan
3-1 Suzusawa, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi
Tel: 0191-46-5155
Hours: 11:00-19:00
Holidays: Opens everyday
(Closed once every week between
December and March)
Price range: from 1,850 yen/person

Ekimae Bashokan
82 Izumiya, Hiraizumi
Tel: 0191-46-5555
Hours: 11:00-17:00
Holidays: Opens everyday
(Closed irregularly between
December and March)
(Reservation Required)
Price range: from 1,780 yen/person

Senkyoan Sohonten
67-1 Suzusawa, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi
Tel: 0191-46-5068
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Holidays: Mondays
(Opens in case of National Holidays)
Price range: from 2,100 yen/person

Senkyoan Shiten
34-2 Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi,
Hiraizumi
Tel: 0191-46-4962
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Holidays: Opens everyday
(Closed irregularly between
December and February)
(Reservation required)
Price range: from 1,680 yen/person

The Cultural Heritaege of Hiraizumi―Toward World Heritage Inscription

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