A Trip to Tatsuno

Located in the southwestern part of Hyogo, Tatsuno is a sweet little town with a lot of history.

Tatsuno is famous throughout Japan for two specialty food products: soy sauce and somen noodles. These became the highlights of my recent trip there.

My first destination was the Usukuchi Tatsuno Shoyu Museum. “Usukuchi shoyu” means light-colored soy sauce, which is favored throughout the Kansai region.

The museum is the former office of Higashimaru Soy Sauce, a major soy sauce company whose products can be found in any supermarket in Japan. They specialize in the above-mentioned light-colored soy sauce.

The museum has been preserved in its original state dating to the Meiji era, so it’s great for history buffs or anyone interested in buildings with some serious atmosphere.

In the museum, you can take a look at all the instruments traditionally used to make soy sauce. The explanations are all in Japanese, but they also have an English pamphlet with a fairly detailed scientific explanation of the soy sauce production process.

Old-fashioned barrels of finished product:

Vats!

I couldn’t get over how steampunk this was:

After I’d had my fill of history at the soy sauce museum, I decided to try the other local delicacy for lunch.

Tatsuno is famous for somen, a very thin noodle with a light color and flavor. It’s served in hot soup during the winter and chilled on a plate during the summer. The somen of this region is called Ibo-no-Ito somen, which takes its name from the Ibo River that runs through the town.

The restaurant of choice to try the noodles is Sukune Jaya. Here’s a silly shot of yours truly in front of the restaurant:

Sukune Jaya serves somen noodle lunch sets for very reasonable prices. The sets include noodles, a variety of side dishes, and tea.

The walk to the restaurant is also lovely. When I visited, it was cherry blossom season, and the trees formed a veritable cherry blossom tunnel.

Many old-fashioned houses and historical buildings remain in Tatsuno, so it has an “old Japan” atmosphere that is a treat to explore for visitors used to the concrete jungle of Kobe and Osaka.

Conclusion: at just over an hour from Kobe or a mere 20 minutes from Himeji, Tatsuno is an easy weekend excursion and a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a taste of countryside Japan with a historical ambiance. I didn’t get a chance to visit this time, but Tatsuno Castle is also well-worth a look.

Usukuchi Tatsuno Shoyu Museum
Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM. Closed Mondays.
Address: 54-1 Oote Tatsuno-cho, Tatsuno-shi, Hyogo 679-4178
Telephone: 0791-63-4573
Website: http://www7.ocn.ne.jp/~usukuchi/ (Japanese)

Sukune Jaya
Hours: 11 AM – 5 PM.
Address: 22 Shimokajo Tatsuno-cho, Tatsuno-shi, Hyogo 679-4162
Telephone: 0791-63-0331
Website: http://r.tabelog.com/hyogo/A2805/A280503/28003192/ (Japanese)

How To Get There

Tatsuno
From Sannomiya: Take the JR Special Rapid Service to Himeji (39 minutes), and then take the Kishin Line to Hon-Tatsuno (20 minutes).

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