On April 15, iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students visited Shosenkyo Sawarabi to experience making the Yamanashi specialty, Hoto.
As part of the iEXPerience Program organized by iCLA’s Study Abroad Team, students visited Shosenkyo to experience making Hoto noodles.
The iEXPerience program offers iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students a memorable learning experience during their stay in Yamanashi through hands-on workshops in Yamanashi’s unique arts and visits to notable locations in the prefecture. Last year, students visited a 130-year-old winery, wrote haiku at Shosenkyo, and experienced Japanese tea ceremony at Erinji Temple.
A must-eat when visiting the prefecture, hoto is a Yamanashi dish which is beloved by locals and tourists alike. It is said that Takeda Shingen, Yamanashi’s iconic Sengoku period warlord, loved to eat hoto before heading into the battlefield. Hoto is typically served with a rich miso-based soup, piping hot with hearty vegetables flavorful from cooking in the soup. In the summer, there is a refreshing equivalent called Ozara, with chilled hoto noodles and broth to dip in.
Students entered Sawarabi‘s workshop space to begin their Hoto master class, where they would make the noodles for their lunch. Students started by mixing flour and water to make a dough. Next, the dough was kneaded until smooth, like bread dough. It was then flattened evenly with a rolling pin, folded, and finally cut into strips that measured 1.5 centimeters in thickness.
Carrying their freshly made noodles, students gathered around tables with a large bubbling iron pot of soup and vegetables. Students added their handmade noodles to the pot to cook. Students were also able to enjoy grilled river fish, shrimp, and vegetables with their handmade hoto.
[My favorite part of this field trip was] making the Hoto Noodles from scratch and being able to have free time to walk around with my friends. I learned the difference between Hoto Noodles and Udon Noodles and the correct way to make Hoto Noodles.iCLA Exchange Student
After the master class and lunch, students had free time to explore Shosenkyo, which is nationally designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and well known as the most beautiful gorge in Japan.
During the trip, students learned about the history behind the development of Shosenkyo into the accessible path that we know today by a figure named Osada En-Emon during the Edo Period, as well as the growth of one of Yamanashi’s most prominent industries – the crystal industry – which originated from Shosenkyo. Students were encouraged to visit spots like the Sengataki Waterfall, En-Emon Memorial, Ishimon Stone Gate, or view the Kakuenbo Rock, all of which are notable sights in Shosenkyo.
In this event, students were able to experience making Yamanashi’s local dish Hoto and thoroughly explore Shosenkyo Gorge, which is famous for its importance to the crystal industry in Yamanashi and one of the prefecture’s most popular nature tourism destinations.