28 days, 21 cities, 55 bowls of ramen. Wow! Even I’m shocked. A part of me can’t believe I survived. I guess a diet of REAL ramen won’t kill you after all. Anyway, I’ve already said how amazing this trip was, so let me leave you with some thoughts about the cities I visited. The most relaxed city was Kushiro mostly because nothing was going on. The weirdest city was Tenri because everyone was wearing the same thing. The most tourist friendly city was Hakodate. The most foreigners I saw in one city (aside from Tokyo) was Hiroshima. The least tourist friendly city was Tenri. The best ramen-themed town was Kitakata. The city that everyone should visit at least once for their ramen would be Hakata. The most inspiring city was a tie between Onomichi and Wakayama (although it would have been nice to see Kagoshima without all the ash). The city I can see myself living in the most (aside from Tokyo) would be Asahikawa (Hiroshima a close second). And last but not least, the best ramen in Japan comes from…everywhere!
- Day 1 – Planes, Buses, and Bassanova!
- Day 2 – Raumen Museum, Sakura, and Ie-Kei Ramen
- Day 3 – Saturday Stroll, Instant Ippudo, and Takadanobaba’s Paichee Men
- Day 4 – Making new ramen friends and reconnecting with old ones…
- Day 5 – Lost in Ikebukuro, Cherry Blossom Rain, and a Gyoza Stadium
- Day 6 – Welcome to Kushiro!
- Day 7 – The cold clamor of Asahikawa…Lovely!
- Day 8 – Asahikawa by day, Sapporo by night
- Day 9 – Sapporo Ramen, Sapporo Beer, Sapporo Keizo?
- Day 10 – Hakodate…The City of Lights!
- Day 11 – Last call for crab. Bring on the beef!
- Day 12 – Kitakata, Shirakawa, and the snoring salary man
- Day 13 – Sano…another small town, another long walk
- Day 14 – Hangin’ out with Uncle Tan Tan…
- Day 15 – Surfing Shibuya and Okinawa Seimen
- Day 16 – The volcanic gloom of Kagoshima
- Day 17 – Miyazaki Ramen and the Ogre’s Washboard
- Day 18 – Driving through Kumamoto then Kurume
- Day 19 – Hakata Ramen…need I say more?
- Day 20 – Experiencing Peace in Hiroshima
- Day 21 – Swaying in the Cool Onomichi Breeze…
- Day 22 – Wakayama’s Castle in the sky…
- Day 23 – The Alchemist must live in Kyoto…
(Kyoto, Tenri, Wakayama)
- Day 24 – The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
- Day 25 – Back to Tokyo I go…
(Atami, Shizuoka, Tokyo)
- Day 26 – Ramen Round Table…in Japan!
- Day 27 – Eating ramen at the Tsukiji Fish Market…
- Day 28 – Going home…
Whether it be ramen-related or not, feel free to contact me if you would like more information on these cities. I’ve saved all my maps and the routes I took to get to them and I’d be more than happy to share them with you. One word of advice: Wear a good pair of shoes! And if you really do decide to go, good luck and have fun! Soak and slurp it all in!!
To be continued…(someday)…
I’m back in LA without incident. Overall, I’d say it was a very successful trip. I’m extremely thankful for everyone who helped me out…you know who you are. I definitely couldn’t have done it without you! And thanks to everyone I met along the way for making this a special experience I’ll never forget. Lastly, I’d like to thank all my readers for actually showing you care about some geeky nerd traveling around slurping ramen noodles. You helped me push through those hard days when I just felt like giving up. Being able to share my stories daily really helped to cope with the issues of traveling alone in a foreign country where I can barely speak the language. (No really, my Japanese skills are pretty weak.) As this dream is officially coming to an end, it has opened the door for a new one to follow. Stay tuned and you will soon see what I mean…Thanks again!
With this being my last full day, you might have thought that I would go on some crazy last minute ramen eating tour of Tokyo. Well…I thought about it and decided not to. I’ll be back someday so no need to rush things. Plus, I think I’ve had a pretty successful trip. So instead, it was just one bowl and the last chance for great sushi. Then it was off to celebrate my niece turning two…
I’m now at a loss for words. I don’t want to leave but know that I must. Next stop…Narita airport. See you in LA!
After spending way too much money on instant ramen at the Raumen Museum earlier in the day, it was time to meet up with two prominent Tokyo ramen bloggers for dinner: Nate from Waseda Ramen and Brian from Ramen Adventures. It was a good night of slurping ramen, having a few drinks, sharing our own ramen stories, and dancing like Kusanagi in the park. Wait, maybe I did that last part by myself…haha.
I have one more full day left in Tokyo, but I’ve already realized my trip has come to an end. I’m not sure how I’m gonna go back to work on Friday. It’s gonna be tough…
I can’t believe I just traveled to 21 of the 28 or so ramen cities in Japan. I only wish I had another month to do it all over again. Now, it’s time to unwind in Tokyo for the next few days. One thing is for sure, I’m gonna sleep in as long as I can tomorrow. I spent the day meeting old family friends in Shizuoka that I haven’t seen for years and it was great to see them again. One of them asked me how many bowls of ramen I’ve eaten already and I couldn’t give them an exact answer. I really haven’t been keeping count. Have you? It’s gotta be over 30 right? I don’t know. I’ll do the count later. Anyway, Fujisan was cloudy all day so I couldn’t really get a good shot. But if you want to see some amazing pics, check out Gaijin Bash’s post last weekend. Lates. I’m out!
After browsing rameniac’s site the other day, I decided to rearrange my plans in order to visit the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. Unfortunately, that would mean I wouldn’t get to spend much time in Nagoya, if any at all. With the rain pouring outside, I set out to make it to both regardless of how drenched I got. And in the end, I was sitting in deep relaxation at the onsen in Atami looking back at it all…
As this journey nears its end, I found the perfect place to reflect upon the past three weeks. It’s been amazing! Virtually unbelievable! So with only four full days left, I set out to make up for lost time. Today was crazy. I started out at Kyoto with the intent to see as much as I could in 2 hours. With so many places to choose from, I only had time to visit Kinkakuji. I had been here several years ago, but I really wanted to show all of you its breathtaking visual. I think the pictures say it all. I even met a deaf mute man that gave me a taxi ride I’ll never forget. Then it was off to Tenri where everything moved slow and didn’t open until night. I must have walked for at least an hour in search of the elusive Tenri Ramen. Seriously, the nearest ramen-ya to the station open for lunch was roughly 2 miles away. After a quick slurp and quick retreat from Tenri, I made the 2-hour train trek back to Wakayama. I wasn’t gonna leave until I ate at Ide Shoten and man was it worth it! Finally, it was back to Osaka for the night where I decided to enjoy a 280 yen Yoshinoya Gyu-don. Don’t ask me why. It just felt like the perfect ending.
Clockwise from top left: Tenka Ippin, Saika Ramen, Yoshinoya, and Ide Shoten. This is what I ate for the day. It’s probably not a diet recommended by mom or your doctor, but damn was it good! Haha. And please…eat at your own risk. 🙂
So without further ado, I give you the daily slide show. Next up Nagoya and the hot springs of Atami…oooh yeah.
I woke up this morning feeling like crap. My body ached, my head hurt, and my nose would not stop running. I missed my morning train out of Hiroshima and contemplated staying one more day. Nope! I wasn’t gonna let a little cold ruin this trip for me…or you! So I finally left Hiroshima around noon with Shin-Osaka in my sight. And after a quick check-in at my hotel, it was off to Wakayama.
Thursday is probably one of the worst days to visit Wakayama. For some reason almost everything closes on a Thursday. As luck would have it, today was a Thursday. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to try the famed Ide Shoten for days now and of course it too was closed. Perhaps I should have stayed in Hiroshima.
But I did manage to find one place that was open–Marutaka Chuuka Soba. It wasn’t as popular or famous as Ide Shoten but it represented the Wakayama style very well, a tonkotsu-shoyu ramen with a deep, distinct flavor. You don’t know how good this ramen made me feel.
So after a satisfying meal, I decided to walk the streets of Wakayama when I turned the corner and saw this amazing castle floating in the sky. It was an unexpected sight in the middle of an urban street. The park around it was so peaceful. Walking around it proved to be a fitting end to a rather tumultous day. Have I ever thanked you for reading my blog? Thank you…
Onomichi is technically still considered part of Hiroshima, but it is home to an entirely different breed of ramen. As you’ll see in the pictures, the soup is clear aside from the island bits of fat floating on the surface. The people are genuinely friendly and will do whatever they can to help you enjoy your stay. It’s a romantic artsy town located along the Seto Inland Sea. Another day here and I might have been inspired to write a book…
I’m back in Hiroshima for the night. I thought I’d get this post out a little early so I can be free to roam the town and eat okonomiyaki. Tomorrow I’m off to Osaka, which will be my hub for the next two days. I’m hoping to branch out from there and visit Wakayama, Tenri, and Kyoto. There’s not really an “Osaka Ramen” but I may just consume a bowl for the sake of it. Only 7 days left…let’s not even think about it.
If you haven’t been to Hiroshima, I recommend that you try. It’s a very historical city that will grab you by the heart and show you what makes it beat. I have history here as well. My father was born in Hiroshima and was 3 years old when the bomb was dropped. Luckily, his family lived on the other side of a hill that shielded them from the blast and radiation. Everybody, at least once in their lives, needs to visit Hiroshima and its Peace Museum. I first came when I was nineteen and it changed my life forever.
As you may have seen in the slideshow, I visited three ramen-ya’s today and one crazy izakaya. The first was Ichimasa, which is run by the old owners of Ebisu Market in Fountain Valley back when it was just a market. [Many thanks to the Doi family for taking me out tonight!] The other two are staples of Hiroshima Ramen. I’ll give full reviews when I get back home, but Suzume was some of the best tasting shoyu-tonkotsu I’ve had yet…