Food Kyushu | Fukuoka

Ibusuki garden spot, somen noodles at Tosenkyo Masunoya

Rice balls, miso soup and chopsticks in somen noodles shop of Ibusuki.

It was a beautifully sunny yet hot day when we set out for Ibusuki. For those who have never experienced a Japanese summer, it can be quite challenging to travel at that time. To put it simply, imagine being boiled all the time and sitting in the sauna cabinet without a break. Your body gets easily tired and loses a lot of energy.

It is extraordinarily humid at times. Traveling at that time might be exhausting if your body can’t stand the heat. On the other hand, it gives you great opportunities to try summer food specialties and visit stunning places on the southwest sea shore like Ibusuki.

As we were not afraid of the heat, we enjoyed a drive along the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture and tried to see as many local places as possible. Along the way to Ibusuki, we decided to dine in a place where we could try something refreshing and cold. As I had never ate somen noodles before, my companion suggested we try it out as you can enjoy it in a cold soup.

Coming from a country with traditions of eating hot and rich soups, I could not envisage how you could eat a cold soup with noodles. However, I decided to give it a go as I was hungry and desperate to eat something refreshing and rather chilly.

View of nature and water outside a window of somen noodles shop in Ibuski

We ended up in Tosenkyo Masunoya, a local restaurant in Ibusuki. Hidden among decorative and colorful gardens, it overlooked a natural pond full of red, white, and yellow carp and a little footbridge that you cross to get to the restaurant. The whole place felt very tranquil and relaxing. The restaurant wasn’t busy as it was still early for having lunch. We were seated by the window – a perfect place to enjoy the stunning views outside, including a river where many trout live and are caught later for the meals.

Indoor of somen noodles shop in Ibusuki.

Counter of somen noodles shop in Ibusuki.

What I found was a big surprise. We ordered the teishoku meal that included somen (thin white noodles), grilled trout, trout sashimi, and other side dishes. Instead of eating noodles from a bowl or a plate, we had to catch them using chopsticks. They were spinning and racing around a whirlpool in the unique container provided for each table.

Rice balls, miso soup and chopsticks in somen noodles shop of Ibusuki.

Rice balls, miso soup and chopsticks in somen noodles shop of Ibusuki.

It is an enjoyable way of eating called nagashi somen, a Japanese style that originally involved serving noodles in a bamboo pipe full of flowing water. After catching noodles from the cold water, diners dip them in a cup of flavorful soup and eat. Nagashi somen is a summer tradition, often seen at festivals or in restaurants in rural areas of Japan.

Trying nagashi somen will be entertaining for you and your friends, even if you have poor chopstick skills. Cold somen noodles are delicious and an excellent lunch dish for a hot summer day. I am going to catch somen noodles again this summer.

Useful links and information

You can get to Ibusuki by catching a limited express train from Kagoshima Chuo Station (50 minutes, around 2,140 yen). You can also use a local train from the same station (70-80 minutes, 1,000 yen). Both are covered by the JR Pass.

NameTosenkyo Masunoya
Address〒891-0604 Kagoshima-ken, Ibusuki-shi, Kaimonsenta 80
Access[map]〒891-0604 Kagoshima-ken, Ibusuki-shi, Kaimonsenta 80[/map]
Opening Hours(Summer)11:00~22:00(LO21:00) (Winter)11:00~15:00(LO14:30)
Price Range~1,300 yen
Payment optionsCash