Nihon Soba vs. Soba: What’s the Difference?
When you hear Soba (そば), what crosses your mind may be buckwheat noodles served in a hot bowl of soy sauce-flavored broth.
It is natural to think like that, but the word Soba can mean various things, and we usually use the name Nihon Soba (日本そば) to make it clear to refer to the buckwheat noodle soup.
Nihon Soba vs. Soba
The basic meaning of Soba in Japanese is Noodles, and Soba can refer to various noodle dishes, such as Okinawa Soba, Chuka Soba, or Shina Soba when written with Hiragana letters as そば.
So we use the name Nihon Soba or write そば with Kanji characters as 蕎麦 to only point to buckwheat noodles. By the way, the literal meaning of Nihon Soba is Japan Noodles.
Okinawan Soki Soba (ソーキそば)
- 蕎麦 (Soba) only refers to Nihon Soba (日本そば: Japan Noodles) or traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles.
- そば (Soba) can also mean Okinawa Soba, Chuka Soba, or Shina Soba.
By the way, the literal meaning of Chuka Soba (中華そば) and Shina Soba (支那そば) is both Chinese Noodles, and they are synonyms for Ramen.
(Reference Page: Goo Japanese Dictionary 蕎麦 (そば) )