Ueda City’s Edo-era District: Yanagi-Machi

October 9th, 2009 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Shopping, Sightseeing

Due to Typhoon Melor, our local train stopped running yesterday morning, and Kamiyamada Elementary School closed for the day. Thanks to the surrounding mountains, however, the storm didn’t hit this Kamiyamada area very hard. Nearby apple orchards fortunately escaped without much damage.
Taking advantage of the kids’ day off, I took them to Ueda City. I had been to Ueda’s Showa-era shopping district Unno-Machi before. Today we explored Ueda’s Edo-era district, Yanagi-Machi.

Yanagi-Machi streetscene

Yanagi-Machi streetscene

Despite being older by several hundred years, Yanagi-Machi seemed to have more vitality than its Showa-era counterpart. I think it’s due to the charming feudal period stone slab streets and classic wooden buildings. Thanks to the efforts of the townspeople, the neighborhood retains much of its historical character.
And Yanagi-Machi’s crown gem is definitely the Levain breadshop. Not only is their bread fantastic, but the building is amazing.

Levain's yummy bread

Levain's yummy bread

They pride themselves in using “natural yeast” (is there such a thing as unnatural yeast?).  I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not, but the rich texture and full flavor of the bread certainly pleased this westerner’s palatte. But the building, oh the building! It reminded me of the ninja fun house in Togakushi with all of its mesmerizing nooks and crannies, let alone the interesting objects and nicknacks throughout the place.

Ninja breads shop?

Ninja breads shop?

Many tourists go see Ueda Castle. From there, it’s an easy walk to Yanagi-Machi — I highly suggest it.

Note: Yanagi-Machi is an approx. 20 minute walk up a gradual hill from  Ueda Station.

Click here for Yanagi-Machi’s website.

Click here for the website of Levain.

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