Since it was difficult to grow rice in the Iya region, due to the cold climate and the steep landscape, typical of a mountainous region, its food culture evolved around things that grew well under such conditions, like Soba.
The snacks featuring regional characteristics or originating from the time of prosperous tobacco manufacturing business are also popular.
①Soba rice porridge
This porridge features “Soba rice,” which are hulled buckwheat seeds, vegetables, and chicken.
The buckwheat porridge is said to have started when the Heike refugees used buckwheat seeds instead of rice in their recipes because rice could not be grown in the Iya region.
This is a light and healthy dish featuring a distinctive texture of Soba rice.
The Iya region, where there is a large difference in the daytime and nighttime temperatures, is a great place to grow buckwheat.
Iya Soba, which does not contain too much binder, is thick and short and has a characteristic texture.
During the Meiji period, when the tobacco manufacturing business was flourishing, the rich merchants sought Yokan as a luxury item and there are still many Yokan stores in Awa-Ikeda. Of those, Atagiya, founded in 1892, continues to specialize in Yokan to this day. “Chonta Chonhei,” with its unique shape, stands out next to the standard, rectangular Yokan in their prestigious store.
This Yokan is packaged in a small balloon and when pierced with a toothpick, the rubber breaks to expose the Yokan inside, which is then ready to eat right off of the toothpick. This is a great souvenir that is light and not too sweet and has a unique, unforgettable name.
This is a Japanese snack that was eaten during the harvest festival called “Oinoko,” traditionally celebrated on “Inohi” in October of the former lunar calendar.
During this festival, children went around houses, holding straw rings, to pray for health and safety. In return, they were given this ring-shaped snack or oranges.
It was almost like Trick-or-Treating on Halloween. While this festival is no longer celebrated, the snack that is made by following the simple, traditional method of kneading the flour and brown sugar into a dough, then rolling, cutting, and baking it, has a nostalgic taste.
Awa Uirou is a local favorite since the olden times. When the local children used to go for a picnic for seasonal events, many of them would have it in their lunchbox.
“Curly Uirou” was created by Fukuya, which was founded in 1930, to represent a “vortex,” Awa’s nickname. It is unique in its appearance and flavors.