In the Lunar calendar, October is generally called “Moon with no God”, based on the legend all Gods leave their governing lands to attend a yearly conference at this time! This Gods conference is held here in Izumo, where people call their October “Moon of residing Gods.” The Lunar month of October is a busy month here, with many Shinto ceremonies and events held to welcome the Gods from other regions. It is also the peak season for tourism in Izumo, as all visitors come in the hope of being blessed by all these deities!
One of the attractions for tourists is Izumo soba, noodles made from fresh buckwheat flour, with a nice warm soup!
The most famous style for Izumo soba is Warigo soba, which is served in a lacquered ware made of three round boxes placed one on top of another. This was originally made for merchants from Osaka (Omi) who had a habit of eating Soba outdoors. A stacked lunch box was very convenient for them. Normally, you have a separate bowl of sauce, which you dip soba in with chopsticks. For the Warigo style, you pour sauce over the entire soba noodles, making it perfect for an outdoor picnic style. The reason why soba noodles are divided into three boxes is that you can pour the left over sauce from the top box into the middle box. In this way, sauce develops a different flavor. In earlier times, Soba boxes were square or rectangular shaped. However, in 1904, the police department (which was also in charge of health and safety at the time) abolished them, citing that it was hard to clean well around the sharp edges, and subsequently recommended the usage of the round boxes. At the same time, the police also ordered the use of lacquered boxes, instead of Hinoki (Japanese cypress) lunch boxes, for the same safety reason.
Harusato Matsudaira, a provincial samurai lord from the late 18th century, did not necessarily have a reputation as a good politician, but he was a master tea practitioner and much loved by his townspeople. He was a great supporter of the arts, theater and culture. In those days, Soba was only for commoners, and not a dish for the upper class. However, Lord Matsudaira loved Izumo soba, and he sometimes had to sneak out of his castle at night to go have a bowl.