In Yamanashi to see Japan’s most famous mountain? Treat yourself to a savory noodle soup while you’re there!
A visit to Mount Fuji is a must for many travelers visiting Japan, but even if you’re just in Yamanashi Prefecture for a quick trip to see the mountain, there’s one more local treat you shouldn’t miss: Hoto. Hoto noodles (ほうとう, sometimes written houtou) taste a lot like particularly broad, thin udon noodles, although because of the way they’re prepared some locals debate whether they’re truly noodles or actually dumplings instead. The wide noodles come in a miso-based broth, and the whole dish makes for a satisfyingly warm, savory meal on a windy day exploring Yamanashi to get the best possible views of Mount Fuji!
There are a number of theories when it comes to the origin of both the name “hoto” and also the dish itself! What historians can agree upon is that, while rice has been the traditional staple crop for much of Japan, wheat cultivation took off in parts of Yamanashi thanks to the quality of the soil, hundreds of years ago.
Who first developed these uniquely shaped dumplings/noodles isn’t entirely clear, but the most common lore centers around local warlord Takeda Shingen, who is said to have eaten hoto together with his soldiers before every battle! If the dish is sustaining enough to get Japan’s 16th-century warriors through a day of fighting, it’ll certainly give you the energy you need for a long day of sightseeing!
While local families tend to make the dish in one big pot for a communal meal, restaurants tend to serve hoto in individual cast iron pots.
Lift the lid off your cauldron of bubbling-hot miso broth, and you’ll find a tangle of wide noodles accompanied by a variety of ingredients. The most common additions to the soup are slices of pumpkin and seasonal vegetables, like onions and potatoes in the summer, or you’ll often see carrots and taro during the colder months of the year. Meat is generally an optional topping, but many restaurants offer pork, chicken, or even seafood!
Many of the most popular hoto restaurants are found in Fuji-Kawaguchiko, a little resort town at the foot of Mount Fuji. The town is always busy with travelers, there to relax in the cool weather coming off of Lake Kawaguchiko and take in the views of the mountain, and a number of hoto eateries have sprung up in response to the demand. Travelers in a hurry might want to check out Hoto Fudo right across the street from Kawaguchiko Station. If you’re exploring the area a little more, we’d also recommend Hoto Kosaku, where the Japankuru team enjoyed hoto a few years back!
The restaurant has a huge waterwheel out front, so you won’t miss it!
Hoto Kosaku (甲州ほうとう 小作 河口湖店)
1638-1 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi
Official Website (jp)
Name: Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県)
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