Established in 1600’s as a post town it was important during the Edo period because the Daimyo had to travel regularly between the city of Edo and their domains, as a requirement of the Shogunate.
Ouchijuku was a post town on the road north, it also was the route by which rice was shipped to the capital.
Restrictions set by the Shogunate required travelers to make their long journeys on foot and as a result, post towns developed along the routes to provide travelers with food, accommodation and rest.
The Shimotsuke Kaido route, which connected Aizu Domain (currently the western part of Fukushima Prefecture and part of Niigata Prefecture) and the Edo area at that time.
Whilst the village was important during the Edo period, a new national route was opened in the Meiji Period (1868-1912)to the east that did not go through Ouchijuku and the village was almost forgotten, the houses were not ‘modernized” and the original structure and design remained intact. The village was rediscovered and has since been modernized, but in a manner that preserves its nature.
There are only 40 buildings in the village, each with the thatched roof that was characteristic of the Edo period. The main inn at the time for high ranked government officials, is now open as a museum about life in the Edo period. No cars are allowed and most of the houses sell food, local crafts,local produce and souvenirs.
The village has been restored to look as it did in the Edo Period with telephone and electricity wires buried. The main street is unpaved, with water channels either side of road. Since 1981 it has been a protected site, ensuring that it remains a snapshot of history for future generations.
There is a shrine and a temple in Ouchijuku, the temple is at the top of the street and gives a great view over the entire village. The temple is in a cedar grove nearby.