Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

soba the Japanese word for buckwheat, and for noodles made from buckwheat, which are traditionally preferred in the eastern half of Japan, especially in Tokyo.

Buckwheat has been eaten in Japan from early antiquity, but it was in the 17th century that soba became common, though it must have been known earlier. The increased popularity of soba at this time was encouraged by a rise in the production of buckwheat, in the wake of the period of peace and prosperity that followed the setting up of centralized government in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1603 after decades of civil strife.