The refined taste of 350 years of tradition

Hand-made Inaniwa Udon Noodles from Kanbun Gonendo

*Package shape varies according to price.
*Packaging design may vary depending on the season.

Inaniwa udon is one of the three best-known variants of the udon noodle in Japan. The town of Inaniwacho, where the clear sparkling underground waters of Kurikomayama in Akita prefecture bubble to the surface, is known for its quality wheat, and also has a long history of trade in salt brought by ship. Thus Inaniwa has since time immemorial had direct access to the three key components of the udon noodle: wheat, water and salt.
Hand-made Inaniwa Udon Noodles from Kanbun Gonendo is made entirely by hand using the traditional techniques of the Inaniwa region. This is an exceptional product worthy of the Kanbun Gonendo name, which interestingly is derived from the year 1665 when Inaniwa udon first appeared, as documented in ancient local texts. This unique product with a proud history stretching back 350 years has won plaudits around the world, including the highest award in the Monde Selection for the last 16 years in a row. It makes a wonderful gift.

The editorial team here at SHUN GATE was lucky enough to receive a box of Hand-made Inaniwa Udon Noodles from Kanbun Gonendo to try. In this article, we give you our impressions of this wonderful product, including taste, appearance and other important considerations.

Light and delicate with a refined taste

The noodles that emerge from the pack are flat and delicately thin, with the yellow tinge that is a distinctive characteristic of Inaniwa Udon. Cooking involves boiling for three minutes, then immediately plunging the noodles into cold water. Because of the shape, the cooking time is equivalent to about half that of standard dried udon noodles. The cooked noodles are beautifully sleek, glossy and translucent, boasting a wondrously soft texture and a firm bite at the same time. Inaniwa Udon noodles have a delicate and silky smooth feel that is not found in other types of udon noodles. Each exquisite individual strand seems to shimmer with brilliance. Our sample pack was finished in a flash!

Hand-made udon shaped by the human touch

Kanbun Gonendo prides itself on making food by hand with great care and attention. Mr. Abe, sales director for Kanbun Gonendo, says that it wouldn’t be Inaniwa Udon unless it were lovingly fashioned by dedicated craftspeople.
“These days you could easily produce something similar on a production line,” he argues. “But at the end of the day, the fine art of kneading the dough?which is what defines the best udon?just can’t be done properly on a machine. You need that human touch, the ability to adjust your working to the state of the dough and not overdo it. This applies equally to the tenai process, where each individual strand of udon is painstakingly rolled out and modeled to perfection.”
The tenai process of making udon by hand involves kneading the dough, rolling it out into strings, then crossing the strands over a pair of rollers, a bit like making rope.This results in a wonderfully soft yet firm texture that is unique to tenai udon.

A gift that the locals would save for special occasions

“In the old days, Inaniwa Udon used to be made during the winter season when the farmers had less to do, and the technique was passed down from generation to generation. But it’s certainly a time-consuming way to make udon, and eventually it began to fall out of favor. We thought it would be a shame if this slice of tradition were to be lost for ever, so we set up the first udon-making business in the district. We hired some experienced udon makers and started training our own, and in this way we were able to keep the tradition alive. As you can imagine we’re very proud of our business, and that’s why we chose the name Kanbun Gonendo to commemorate the year 1665 when Inaniwa Udon was created.”
Kanbun Gonendo currently employs around 70 full-timestaff who are busy making Inaniwa Udon all year round. “Our product tastes great because you know that every single strand has been painstakingly crafted with care,” beams Abe.
According to Abe, Inaniwa Udon used to be reserved as a very special gift to be presented to an honored person or brought out at weddings and ceremonial occasions. “In the same way that Inaniwa Udon clearly meant a great deal to the local people of old, we hope that people all over Japan will choose this unique product to present as a special gift.”
Handmade Inaniwa Udon Noodles from Kanbun Gonendo is a product that combines the pure waters and finest quality wheat of Akita prefecture with the traditional craftsmanship of local artisans. The care and attention that goes into making the noodles is reflected in the beautiful glossy appearance and refined taste.
Handmade Inaniwa Udon Noodles from Kanbun Gonendo preserve an important tradition and are the perfect gift at any time.

寛文五年堂 秋田店

Kanbun Gonendo Akita Shop

Akita prefecture is blessed with a wonderful environment and is known for producing excellent rice and sake along with a range of other foods.
At the Kanbun Gonendo shop in Akita you can do taste tests of fresh and dried versions of Handmade Inaniwa Udon Noodles, and sample a variety of unique local dishes such as Kiritanpo stew and Hatahata fish.

Location Ground floor, Area Nakaichi, 1-4-3 Naka-dori, Akita-shi, Akita
Approximately six minutes’ walk from JR Akita station
TEL 0120-1728-86(Free dial)
Hours 11:00 – 22:30(last order: 22:00)
Closed None
Photographer : KOJI TSUCHIYA

Kanbun Gonendo

Address 34 Mishima, Inaniwa-cho, Yuzawa-shi, Akita

*The information in this article is current as of the date of the interview. Please contact the restaurant for the latest information.

Akita Prefecture  Tourism Information
Japan Travel

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