Ouchijuku (大内宿) once served as a post town in the
Edo Period for travelers going from Nikko to Aizu, and
vice versa. It was part of the Aizu Nishi Kaido, which was
vital for those living in the Tohoku Region. Like other old
post towns, this one was once a place for rest and
provisions for travelers, particularly because they
traveled by foot due to sanctions by the Shogunate
during the Edo Period. Thus it had taken much longer to
reach a desired location and post towns like Ouchijuku
were built. Officials and other high ranking citizens also
used this town when traveling. The Honjin was a primary
inn used by these high ranking officials, however, like the
rest of the town; Honjin is kept as a museum for the
public in order to demonstrate what post town during the
Edo period once seemed.
Everyday items of the Edo Period can be found in the museum like a wooden rice mill, which is rare to find intact. However, modern details like electrical or phone wires are hidden to keep the appearance of a town during the Edo period. Now, Ouchijuku is a town that has restaurants, souvenir shops, and museums for its visitors. There are also several minshuku, or Japanese- style accommodations available for those who wish to stay longer in this historical and peaceful village. The post town was originally built in 1643 for the officials that lived in the Tohoku Region. Over 30 thatched roofed traditional buildings were built along the unpaved roads of the town. Ouchijuku was very prosperous until the construction of a new national route during the Meiji Period.
The patrons of both the Shimotsuke Kaido and Ouchijuku dramatically dropped because the new road was more convenient. Ouchijuku was left behind with time, but it proved to be a good thing because the thatched buildings and unpaved roads were preserved. In 1981, Ouchijuku was designated as a Group of Traditional Buildings. Since then it has become a popular sightseeing spot in Fukushima where it heralds in about 1.2 million patrons a year. Its main attraction is the fact that many post towns were not kept in their original forms and Ouchijuku serves as a great example of one in great condition.
Inside the minshuku are irori (traditional Japanese sunken hearth) where they make char fish on a stick. It is a good snack to have that has been eaten since the Edo Period. Again many of the homes and buildings in Ouchijuku have been around for more than 400 years even though they are equipped for modern times. There is also an observatory at the end of the walkway of Ouchijuku where you can see the town from above. This observatory is a great place to go to especially in the wintertime when the town is blanketed with snow and illuminated at night.