Inspired by a recent episode of Yuru Camp△’s adorable short spinoff series Heya Camp△, today we’re focusing on Houtou, a famous Japanese regional dish originating from Yamanashi Prefecture. We’ll explore what makes houtou unique, its history, and touch on some specifics from Heya Camp△’s episode. Keep it short and savory, let’s dig in!
Houtou Origin & Ingredients
Houtou is from Yamanashi, a mountainous and heavily forested prefecture in the central Chubu region of Japan that is famous for its natural beauty, especially Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes, as well as for Fuji-Q Highland theme park, producing some of the best grapes, peaches, and plums in Japan, and houtou!
The dish itself has many varieties and optional ingredients but generally consists of miso soup with dashi (fish stock), seasonal vegetables (such as pumpkin, napa cabbage, onions, etc.), and a specific type of fresh, homemade wheat noodles that are prepared similarly to dumplings and usually cut thick using a kitchen knife. The noodles are the main point that differentiates houtou from other similar dishes like udon as it uses a tougher, more glutinous dough that isn’t left to sit or salted.
The development of houtou is directly related to Yamanashi’s geography and history. As a region where it is difficult to grow rice in many places, wheat farming became increasingly popular after it was introduced to help combat food shortages brought on by large amounts of land that was once used for growing rice transitioned to silk farming.
Houtou’s invention is sometimes attributed to the famous Sengoku period feudal lord Takeda Shingen who is said to have eaten it with his soldiers before every battle. This story, however, isn’t totally substantiated as far as we can tell and might have been mostly brought into the spotlight as a tourism gimmick more than anything.
Houtou in Heya Camp△
As we mentioned earlier, houtou can be made with a wide diversity of ingredients which is the main point—besides its deliciousness—that they focus on in the episode. Aki describes this as the “true freedom” that can be uniquely found in houtou when thinking about what she will put in hers, mentioning how her mom humorously says that as she throws random ingredients together. Aoi mentions her own method of making “dry houtou” which reduces the water to cook down the noodles like carbonara and served with olive oil and shichimi (a common Japanese spice blend). This inspires Nadeshiko to create her own freestyle houtou and they each get to cooking!
No houtou harassment here! Thanks to the power of houtou, the three are able to enjoy the many delicious varieties together which helps Nadeshiko cheer up after losing her stamp rally flyer earlier.
Seeing Houtou featured in Heya Camp△ was a treat that has inspired us hungrily think of what our own personal recipes might be like, perhaps some freshly grilled corn with soy sauce would make a nice camp-like feeling? In any case, we hope you enjoyed our miniature adventure into the world of houtou! Let us know what you’d want in yours in the comments section below and stick around Honey’s for future delicious anime food ramblings and more! Itadakimasu! See ya~