- Main lore areas
The whole prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Soba, taro, radish, carrots, konjac, tofu, raw shiitake mushrooms
- History/origin/related events
Soba (buckwheat) has been widely cultivated in Ibaraki Prefecture since the Edo period (1603 - 1868) due to the large temperature difference between morning and evening and the large amount of sloping land with good drainage. Even today, the region has one of the largest harvests after Hokkaido, Nagano and Tochigi prefectures, and is also known as a soba production area in the Kanto region. In 1978, Ibaraki Prefecture began breeding soba varieties to create "Hitachi Aki Soba," which is a high-quality brand name in terms of both taste and aroma. Its aroma has gained such a reputation that it is used at some of the best soba restaurants in the Tokyo area, and has many fans outside of the prefecture as well. In Ibaraki Prefecture, where root vegetables are plentiful, "Kenchin Jiru" is often made, and it has become customary to eat "Kenchin Jiru" with soba noodles. It is said that “Tsuke Kenchin” (dipping soba noodles into Kenchin Jiru) was already being eaten in the late Edo period. The custom of eating soba noodles by “Tsuke Kenchin” at the New Year of the old calendar (on February 3, today's Setsubun) is said to have spread from the Mito domain. Even today, it is still eaten throughout Ibaraki Prefecture, especially in the northern part, and is a local cuisine with deep roots in the region.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
In mid-November, when most of the harvest is done, people used to make "tsuke-kenchin" or "kenchin-soba" as part of the feast for the festival.
Nowadays, kenchin-soba can be eaten all year round, but it is especially popular in the fall and winter months, when new buckwheat noodles are produced, due to the cold weather.
It is still widely eaten in restaurants and homes throughout the prefecture. Each household has its own unique style of using seasonal ingredients for its "Kenchin Jiru".
- How to eat
The soup is made by stir-frying taro, radish, burdock root, konnyaku, green onion, carrot, etc., and seasoned with miso, soy sauce, and mirin, and served with zaru soba (buckwheat noodles). Thick buckwheat noodles are used as the main ingredient. When soba noodles are added to the "Kenchin Jiru", it is called "Kenchin Soba". Although kenchin-soba is also eaten in other prefectures, tsuke-kenchin is a way of eating soba unique to this region.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
The information is disseminated through various media, including the prefectural government's website, along with the introduction of "Hitachi-Aki Soba," a brand variety of Ibaraki Prefecture's buckwheat noodles. Fairs and campaigns related to "Hitachi-Aki Soba" are held during the season of new "Hitachi-Aki Soba," and "Tsuke-kenchin" is also promoted extensively at this time.