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Takasaki’s King of Pasta serves up a royal feast of local flavors

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

While many people believe that Marco Polo brought pasta from China to Italy in the 13th century, the records of a 12th-century Arab geographer claim that the dish was already known in Sicily back in 1154. Presumably it had been taken there by traders via the Silk Road during the Arab invasions in the 9th century. It has since gained popularity worldwide.

Italy is regarded as the world’s pasta capital these days, but Japan has its own King of Pasta, which is waiting to be crowned this Sunday in the city of Takasaki in southwest Gunma Prefecture.

Takasaki has a climate particularly suitable for wheat farming, and since wheat flour is the prime ingredient of pasta, the region has also become known by another name — Japan’s “City of Pasta.” This Sunday, Motenashi Hiroba, a public square in the grounds of Takasaki’s former city hall, is hosting 15 eateries who will offer their specialties to pasta fans.

It’s the fifth annual King of Pasta event and tickets are ¥1,000. Visitors will be able to try three dishes, before voting for their favorite one, and the dish gaining the most votes will be announced later in the day.

Every specialty served at the King of Pasta event is prepared using at least one ingredient grown or produced locally in Gunma, and the visitors’ overall favorite dish will be declared the Takasaki King of Pasta at a ceremony at 4:30 p.m.

Events for children include pony rides and an amusement park in front of the Gunma Music Center, adjacent to the venue.

King of Pasta takes place on Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Motenashi Hiroba in Takasaki, Gunma. The venue is a 10 min. walk from the West Exit of JR Takasaki Station. Admission is ¥1,000. For more information, visit www.kingofpasta.jp and @king_of_pasta or call 027-323-2868.