If you drive from Shinshiro Interchange along National Route 257, you’ll see a beautifully designed building that exudes the warmth of wood. This is where Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara and the Okumikawa Museum of Local History opened on May 13, 2021. Within Aichi Prefecture’s pristine natural area of Okumikawa, Shitara-Town’s charms are presented in an open and relaxing space. This column will introduce some of the highlights of Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara and the Okumikawa Museum of Local History, together with Shitara-Town's unique qualities!
Shitara-Town is said to be composed of 90 percent mountains and forests. It is also the source of three rivers: Toyo River, Yahagi River, and Tenryu River. Shitara’s food is the epitome of nature’s blessings, grown in abundant forests and fresh air, with significant temperature differences between day and night. Within Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara, there is also a market managed by a company called Tsuguya that provides a wide variety of local ingredients, fulfilling the company's wish to someday make this roadside station a place for selling local vegetables.
The first thing to take note of is the rice grown in Shitara-Town.
Shitara-Town is famous for its delicious rice! This rice is also highly popular with the locals.
At Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara, rice is sold at the market on the first floor. For those who looking to try it out or give some as a souvenir, getting the easy-to-carry ｍini size is recommend.
Sekiya Brewery’s products such as Daiginjo Kuu or Gin from Shitara-Town’s sake brewery appeals to sake lovers all over Japan. At Seirei Market, you can purchase Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara’s original sake called Shitara.
On the second floor of the Roadside Station is the Houraisen Sake Laboratory where you can experience making sake. Japanese sake brewing is practiced on a small scale by reservation only at this experiential facility where sake training, amazake (sweet fermented rice drink) classes, workshops, and so on are held. You can receive the sake you made after the brewing process is complete.
The space looks like an old science lab, and as soon as you enter you’ll feel a growing sense of excitement.
Challenge yourself to make your very own sake here someday.
*: Reservations can be made from Sekiya Brewery’s Event Reservations Page (Japanese)
Gohei-mochi is known as a famous product of the Okumikawa area. It’s said that the shape originated from the Shinto “gohei,” wooden sticks decorated with paper streamers. At first glance you may be surprised by the size and shape, but soon you won’t be able to get enough of the aromatic combination of sweet, grilled miso paste and rice.
You’ll definitely want to try recreating this flavor at home, too. At the market on the first floor you can buy a recommended gohei-mochi set for eating at home or at a BBQ.
Yamaga Konnyaku is another popular Shitara-Town specialty made from the konjac potato plant and prepared using traditional methods. Thinly cut, their konnyaku is fresh enough to enjoy as is, with a taste reminiscent of sashimi, or raw fish. You’ll likely be surprised at how different the konnyaku tastes compared to what you’ve eaten until now.
Of course, an assortment of fresh vegetables grown by local farmers is also available.
Meat or fish raised in Shitara’s hills or rivers also deserve attention.
Wild game and freshwater kinuhime salmon are famous local specialties that can only be tasted here.
At the restaurant, you can order Mori-no-Megumi Mazesoba (1,100 yen) featuring Shitara deer meat or try deep-fried kinuhime salmon and sashimi at the same time with the Kinuhime Salmon Set Meal (1,200 yen). Those who want to taste wild game or the regional brand of fish are encouraged to experience it here.
Have fun searching for other products that are packed with Shitara’s charms!
Constructed with a traditional roof frame, the exhibition room is made of solid Japanese cypress. As you step inside, the soothing scent of cypress surrounds you.
If you walk past the exhibits in order from the entrance, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the connections between nature and people.
The Taguchi Line, a railroad which used to run in Aichi Prefecture’s Okumikawa area, was discontinued 50 years ago. Local residents and sightseers alike miss the sight of the beloved Taguchi Line to this day and continue to hold events such as tours of the discontinued route.
With plenty of worthwhile sights, including the Okumikawa Museum of Local History and adjoining sake experience facilities, the new Roadside Station “Michi-no-Eki” Shitara offers various ways to have fun. Be sure to stop by when sightseeing in Okumikawa.
〒441-2302 17-7 Nakada, Kiyosaki, Shitara-Town, Kitashitara-gun, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
[Okumikawa Museum of Local History] Adults 300 yen, elementary school students 150 yen, preschoolers free of charge
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last admission to Okumikawa Museum of Local History until 4:30 PM)
*: Seirei Restaurant 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Open every day
*: Okumikawa Museum of Local History and Taguchi Line Railroad Car Exhibit closed Tuesday (the following day if Tuesday is a public holiday), year-end and New Years (December 29 to January 3)
Yagumoen Fishing Weir (Yagumoen Kiyosakiten)
One of the famous items here is the large, sandal-sized gohei-mochi made from pounded rice covered in miso or soy sauce and grilled. In the summer, enjoy BBQ or sweetfish catching in addition to the tempting scents of the freshly grilled sweetfish cuisine. In winter, Yagumoen offers dishes made with wild game caught by a local hunter.
Damine Castle was built circa 1470 on a hill overlooking the village of Damine in north-eastern Aichi Prefecture. Although the castle was abandoned during the Edo Period, the castle ruins remained in relatively untouched condition, allowing for research and for the reconstruction of a number of features, including the Goten palace, the watchtower, gates and fencing to create a fine reconstruction of a Sengoku Period castle.
Thousand Rice Paddies of Yotsuya (Yotsuya Senmaida)
On the outskirts of Shinshiro City and at the foot of 883m high Mt. Kurakake in eastern Aichi Prefecture, are the terraced rice growing fields of Yotsuya Senmaida. Translated, senmaida means "1,000 rice paddies," an approximation of the actual number of terraces. The terraced landscapes are enjoyable all year round, with the views changing with the seasons.