Located east of Nikko City, Imaichi contains a cedar-lined road (namiki kaido) that has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest. Different segments are known as the Nikko, Reiheishi, and Aizu-nishi roads and together stretch a total distance of 37 kilometers. Lining the road are some 13,000 cedar trees, which date back hundreds of years to the days of The Shogunate. Matsudaira Masatsuna, a retainer of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, had over 200,000 cedars plated over a 20-year period in honor of Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Many of the trees still standing today bear witness to their long and eventful history. One tree, named “Houdan Uchikomi no Sugi” has scars made by a cannonball fired during the Boshin War (1868–1869). Another, named “Nikko Namiki Taro,” is considered the largest and most beautiful of all. A wild cherry tree grows out of a crack in the bark of “Sakura Sugi” (Cherry Pine) and blooms magnificently in springtime. Why not take a stroll down this record-setting tree-lined road and visit some of these famous trees for yourself?
The Imaichi area is known nationally for its buckwheat and is the second-largest producer in all of Tochigi Prefecture. The buckwheat that thrives in the bountiful nature, cool climate, and pristine water from the Nikko mountain range is renowned for its rich fragrance and sweet taste. Imaichi has long been associated with buckwheat noodles (soba). Hundreds of years ago, the town developed as a stopover point for people pilgrimaging to Nikko along the Nikko tree-lined road. Soba became popular as a quick, easy meal for weary travelers and was eventually firmly entrenched in the area’s culinary culture. Today, Imachi has over 30 shops offering their own handmade soba noodles. Many visitors enjoy comparing the different tastes of each shop’s unique recipe. In March of every year, the town is host to the National Handmade Soba Eating Championship. (In 2008, the event will be held on Sunday, March 23.) The Nikko New Soba Festival is held every November to commemorate the buckwheat harvest. Imaichi offers many other events with plenty to see, do, and enjoy.