Alena Eckelmann

Shojiya-The Art of Making Soba

Chef Shoji is a master of his craft

Alena Eckelmann   - 2 min read

Watching Shoji, the chef at Shojiya, made me realize that making soba is an art that involves passion for this Japanese buckwheat noodle, mastership of the ingredients and tools, plus a good portion of muscle power.

This young soba chef trained at a well-known Tokyo soba restaurant and their overseas branch in New York before returning to the family business in Yamagata City. Of course Shoji speaks English well and he is able to explain all you want to know about soba.

His father, the 4th generation soba master, runs the Yamagata Main Store restaurant while the son, the 5th generation soba master, runs the Gotenzeki Shojiya branch restaurant. Gotenzeki refers to an old irrigation canal, part of which can still be seen, in the Nanukamachi area of Yamagata City. A short stretch of street along the Gotenzeki is home to some trendy shops and the Shojiya restaurant.

Nanukamachi literally means "number 7 ward". All the nearby wards were also numbered in the old days it seems. There is Mikkamachi (3rd ward), Itsukamachi (5th ward), Yokamachi (8th ward) and Tokamachi (10th ward). Nanukamachi, known for its many restaurants, bars and bars, is located near a Yamagata City famous landmark, namely the Bunshokan. This English Renaissance building was the previous prefecture government office but now houses the prefecture history museum.

The Shoji soba family business is over 150-years old and their restaurant is said to be the oldest in the whole of Yamagata Prefecture! Yamagata is being labelled the "Kingdom of Soba" and there are many great soba restaurants, but being the oldest and still the best is a great achievement.

Freshly made right in front of your eyes and according to the family recipe, soba at Shojiya is the ultimate hand-made soba experience in Yamagata City, and dare I say, well beyond. The soba made right in front of me tasted just as good as the making looked interesting.

Shojiya offers a Soba Kaiseki course at 3 price levels: lunch small course (Yen 3,500), basic course (Yen 4,600) and luxury course (Yen 6,000). A reservation is needed for Soba Kaiseki until at least one day before.

Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Founder of Kii Monogatari, my story and the story of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Originally from East Germany, I came to Tokyo, via Berlin and London, in 2005. In summer 2011 I moved by choice to remote Kumano in the south of the Kii Peninsula where I live, work and play now, and explore every da...