By Tony Mariani
Kagawa Prefecture, situated on the north of Shikoku Island is known for its excellent udon noodles. The lovely town of Kotohira is famous for its shrine to the God of the Sea, Kotohiragu. At the base of the mountain that takes you up to the shrine are many shops. Among them is Nakano Udon School. The school offers a class on how to make udon. It's recommended that you sign up for the class in advance so they aren't overbooked.
The class is on the 3rd floor of the building. You can either climb the narrow stairs or take the small elevator. After you arrive in the class, the instructor starts the class by giving an overview of what will be going on. While they are talking, another instructor goes to each table and makes sure everyone has their block of dough to start with along with a rolling pin and a knife for cutting the udon when it is done.
Udon starts out as a block of dough that needs to be worked into the finished product. The dough is placed inside a plastic bag and the students are instructed to dance on the bag to knead the dough. Then several students are invited to the front of the class to dance when making udon. It's a lot of fun and they play pop music as the dancing is going on (YMCA). It is fun but you work up a sweat dancing. The music plays for about ten minutes until the udon is nice and flat and ready for preparation.
After the dance, the participants return to their work benches and roll the dough, then cut it neatly into noodles for cooking. When this is done, instructors come around to each table and carefully place each student's udon on its own bamboo tray. The bamboo trays are then taken to the cooking area. The students sit at tables and prepare the udon they just made into meals. It's a fun way to relax after learning how to make udon.
The udon is boiled at the table for a few minutes until it's just ready, then you eat it accompanied with an egg and dipping sauce to enhance the flavor. The dipping sauce is a mixture of dashi, mirin, and shoyu. The class gets to eat what they just made. After the class, you can walk around the shop below for souvenirs or take the climb up to Kotohiragu Shrine.
Class duration: 40-90 minutes
Name in Japanese
中野うどん学校 琴平校 — nakano udon gakkō, kotohira kō — Nakano Udon School, Kotohira
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An American married to a lovely woman from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. I first visited Japan in 1995 on business and have loved Japan and the Japanese since then. When in Japan, live like the Japanese and embrace their culture with respect and admiration.