Try an Ancient Noodle Dish at Yamanashi Kurobera Hoto Festival



Do you like Japanese noodles? Japan is a country where you can enjoy eating various kinds of noodles such as Ramen, Udon, Soba, or Somen. You can eat hot noodles in the winter, and cold one in the summer.

Also, there are a lot of local noodles in each region. Famous noodles in Nagasaki are Champon and Saraudon. Kishimen and Misonikomi-udon are popular in Nagoya.

In this article, I would like to introduce you a soul food (noodles) in Yamanashi, called “Hoto” and Hoto Festival that takes place in Kurobera town, Kofu city, Yamanashi prefecture.

Image courtesy of Yamanashi Tourism Organization

What are Hoto Noodles?

Hoto is a noodle soup and a popular regional dish originated from Yamanashi prefecture. It is made by stewing flat udon noodles and vegetables in miso soup. Though Hoto is commonly recognized as a type of udon noodles, locals do not consider it to be an udon dish because the dough is prepared like for dumplings rather than for noodles.

Hoto hot noodles dish is served in places like hotels and restaurants around Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji five lakes region. The residents believe that Hoto was originally created by the regional warlord – Takeda Shingen during the feudal era.

He and his samurais would eat this healthy dish before going to the battle. Some people believed that he used his own sword to cut the noodles, giving it the name Hoto (宝刀) with kanji meaning treasured sword.

Wheat farming and the flour culture were brought into Yamanashi prefecture due to a shortage in local rice crops. Sericulture had turned lands traditionally reserved for rice harvesting into silk farms, and flour products like Hoto were invented as a means to counter the food shortage which arose from this change in agriculture.

This transition had begun in Yamanashi’s Gunnai region, where rice farming was impossible to start due to the cold temperature and large amounts of volcanic debris embedded into the soil.

Who is Takeda Shingen?

When you talk about regional warlords during the feudal era, you may conceive three samurais such as Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu. But Takeda Shingen was also a very smart warlord in Yamanashi area. Shingen even won the battle with Ieyasu, although he passed away because of his age on the way up to Kyoto.

It is said that old Chinese army scholar’s ideas were written on the Shingen’s battle flags. The ideal was “Fu Rin Ka Zan” (風林火山). It means that the following aspects are important in a battle:

Move speedily like “Wind”,
Take a battle position quietly like “Forest”,
Attack bravely like “Fire”,
But the army general never moves like “Mountain”.

Of course, Mountain means Shingen himself. Shingen commanded all the army without moving even a step. Shingen is said to be one of the most excellent generals, and his army was one of the strongest during the feudal era.

Image courtesy of Yamanashi Tourism Organization

Kurobera Hoto Festival

When leaves turn red and yellow in autumn, Kurobera Hoto Festival takes place at “Mountopia Kurobera”, in Kurobera, Kofu city every year.

At this festival, you can eat Hoto as much as you like for ¥600 per portion. Hoto’s ingredients such as vegetables and mushrooms are picked locally in this area. Miso soup is also handmade. Fresh vegetables including a local specialty – Hana mame (scarlet runner beans), are sold at the festival.

The performance of Japanese traditional dancing – Noh, is also carried out on the stage. Please enjoy the festival with your family and friends and try hot Hoto.

Mountopia Kurobera

The place where Hoto festival takes place is Mountopia Kurobera, which has 10 wooden cottages including a restaurant and barbecue places. You can use the cottages for staying and as a place to relax during one-day-trip.

These facilities are located in a perfect place to easily access Kurofuji mountain, and it is a good base for hiking and climbing the mountain. From the top of Kurofuji you can see such mountains as Kinposan, Yatsugatake, and others. The road to the mountain is well maintained, and you can enjoy nature fully in the quiet atmosphere.

Image courtesy of Yamanashi Tourism Organization

Details and Access

Date & Time:
October 28th, 2018, 10:00 AM~. The festival usually takes place on Sunday at the end of October every year. Please refer to the official website for updated information on the upcoming event.
Admission Fee: ¥600/person, including 1 Hoto dishes
Place: Mountopia Kurobera
623-1, Kurobera-cho, Kofu-shi, Yamanashi-ken
Official Website (Japanese only):
Inquiry: TEL: 055-287-2201 (Mountopia Kurobera)

Access: Around 1 hour by car (25km) from Kofu city downtown

Image courtesy of Yamanashi Tourism Organization

Closing Remarks

We hope you will join this festival and try Hoto noodles. I am sure that Hoto stewed in a big pot will taste best. Besides, eating and viewing the autumn foliage will make the dish taste even better. Kurobera in autumn breathtaking indeed, but you can enjoy it at any seasons. The mountains will show each season’s color to you. Coming with your family and friends is highly recommended.

If you would like to visit this charming event with a local guide who will tell you more about the area and show you the hidden gems, please click on the banner below!

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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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l am living in Nagoya, the third largest city located between Tokyo and Osaka. I am looking forword to introducing you about wonderful festivals in Japan.

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