The first person to eat soba noodles in Edo was a monk from Nihombashi
Soba noodles are a dish that has deep ties with Nihombashi. The first person to eat soba noodles in Edo was a Nihombashi resident four hundred years ago.
The first time soba noodles appeared in Edo literature was when it was mentioned in the Jisho Diary (1614), which was written by the monk Jisho of the Sonshoin Temple in Kyoto. The entry of February 3rd shows that he ate buckwheat noodles with Sencho of Edo Nihombashi’s Tokoin Temple and Kuun of Oumi Sakamoto’s Yakujuin when they went to a bathhouse but could not enter because it was too crowded.
Tokoin Temple was in Nihombashi’s Shinnawacho (now Nihombashi Honcho 4-Chome). It was then transferred and is now in Nishiasakusa. Soba noodles are a dish that spread out from temples and shrines out to the general public.
The first soba noodle shop that opened in Edo was also in Nihombashi
It is said that “Shinanoya”, which opened in Nihombashi’s Setomoncho (now Nihombashi Muromachi) during the Kanbun period (1661 to 1673) was the first soba noodle shop in Edo.
The noodles that were served at Shinanoya were called “kendon” noodles. Kendon noodles were originally served as light finishing meals served during tea ceremonies at places such as temples. They are served as single orders on bamboo trays and enjoyed by dipping small portions in broth. The broth is “taremiso”, which is made with strained miso and water containing plenty of flavorings such as juice derived from daikon, citrus peel, perilla, dried plum, and dried seaweed.
The soba broth we know today was developed around the mid- to late Edo period (mid-seventeenth century to the late eighteenth century), when it became easy for common people to get their hands on dried bonito, which serves as the base. It is also around this time when soy sauce, sake, and sweet cooking rice wine became what they are today. By the way, it was the year Kyoho 5 (1720) during the mid-Edo period when the old established Nihombashi dried bonito shop “Ninben” moved to Setomonocho (now Muromachi).
Soba noodles served in hot broth also originated in Nihombashi
Shinanoya in Nihombashi’s Shinzaimokumachi (now Nihombashi Horidomecho) began serving “bukkake soba” (soba noodles covered with toppings) during the Genroku period (1688 – 1704). It was from around the Kansei period (1789 – 1801) a hundred years later when it started to be called “kake soba”.
“Sasaya” in Nihombashi’s Bakurocho was also the first establishment to serve soba noodles with duck and leek, which is a very popular soba noodle dish with toppings.