Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Ramen (Page 2 of 2)

Buddha’s Pooper

Bill’s visit was work related and only provided for a small amount of time for me to give him a Julia Tour. Between the jet lag and his work schedule, it was tough to find too much spare time. We did squeeze in a few traditional Japanese experiences. Starting with ramen.


Tuesday night, I met Dave and Bill in Yokosuka after work. After a brief pit stop at the O’Club for an informal Navy happy hour, we went to the “Red Door” ramen shop in Yokosuka. This is actually the first place Dave and I had dinner when we arrived in July. It was just as delicious! Dave ordered the spicy ramen and Bill and I both ordered the salt ramen – mine with extra nori (seaweed sheets) – remember, seaweed is the pickle bite of the burger. I think Bill would have this chopstick thing down if he was here another couple days!


Bill’s flight left Wednesday evening giving us a few hours to explore Kamakura. The first stop was the Great Buddha. My favorite.


There wasn’t a line to go inside Buddha, so, we ventured in for ¥20 (16 cents). The best part, was Bill referring to this opportunity as “going into the Buddha’s pooper.” Haha! I snapped this quick picture of Bill looking in the same direction as the Japanese ladies were pointing. No, he has no idea what they are saying.


As we returned back to Hase Station, I snapped one more picture of the last remaining Sakura and the wisteria starting to bloom. Considering the wisteria photo foreshadowing for next week!


We returned to Kamakura and walked to the Hachiman-gū Shrine.


We walked up behind the main shrine and found this quiet sanctuary and shrine.


It was a beautiful morning and I was happy to share a couple of my favorite spots in Japan with Bill before he headed back to America.

After I dropped Bill off in Yokosuka to catch his shuttle to Narita, I stopped by the post office to pick up a package. The Chick-Fil-A fairy delivered again! This time from Germantown, TN and with a few other essentials to kick off grilling and smoking season! Thank you, Layla, Nick, Nina, and Noah for going to several Chick-Fil-A stores to gather yummy sauce for us. I truly appreciate your friendship, love, and support to help us taste TN in Japan. Watch out for a few Neko Atsume surprises coming your way!

Spontaneous Julia Tour

One of my favorite things about the Navy is how frequently paths will cross with former shipmates. Even in Japan. Eric, who was the Command Master Chief at SWOSU for about a year while Dave was the CO, was here in Yokosuka attending a conference. Dave and I met up with him last night for dinner in Yokosuka.


The conference ended on Wednesday and Eric’s flight didn’t leave until Friday morning. That gave him all of Thursday to explore and experience a short one-day Julia tour around Kamakura.

I decided anyone who visits must see the Diabatsu, the giant Buddha of Kamakura.


I mean the giant Buddha is just so chill and such a Japanese experience. I like to think of the Diabatsu as the Willis Tower of Japan! Except cheaper and not as tall. Haha

I decided I would take Eric to the Diabatsu via a hike. Dina was able to join us for our adventure. I took them on the hike I did a couple months ago, The Trail With 4 Buddhas. On our way to the trail, we made a quick stop at my favorite temple, Jōchi-ji, for a quick visit to see the God of Happiness, Hotei.


It was a lovely early spring day.


When we reached the Kuzuharaoka Shrine, Dina saw this sign.


We decided we all needed to throw a dish at the rock!


And so we did! Be gone malign influences, impurities, and obstacles!!


My throw might have been a little overzealous. Parts of the dish ricocheted at me.


We continued on our hike and eventually made our way to Diabatsu. How could Buddha possibly be spelled wrong!?!


And we made it!


With photos taken as proof of our visit, it was time for lunch! Eric’s request was ramen. Google Maps helped us find a little ramen shop off the beaten path and absolutely delicious.


After lunch, we made our way back to Kamakura. In Kamakura, Dina headed home. Eric and I walked through Komachi Dori and made our way to the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine.


As always, my first thought is – “so many people!” Second thought, “don’t these people have to work!?”

I was super happy to be able to incorporate a hike into my Julia tour today. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear enough to see Mt. Fuji. Maybe when you visit and we go hiking, it will be clear enough to see her!

Fuji and Sushi

On Sunday, we set out on a road trip to get a close up look at Mt. Fuji. 


It was about a three hour drive with traffic. If you weren’t clear on why driving in Japan is challenging- check out this interchange. What? 


The views of Mt. Fuji along the way were impressive. I had lots of help with pictures today. Both Dave and Sara contributed. Dave snapped this picture from the back seat. 


Sara helped with road signs. Surprisingly, a couple of them started to look familiar. 


Not sure what is being advertised… but, kawaii!! 


The deer crossing made us laugh. The road had 30 foot walls on either side. Deer actually crossing didn’t seem possible. 


My favorite. The car farting as it went up the steep hill. 


Sara also did a great job capturing Mt. Fuji as we approached. 


Our destination was to a cute tourist village at the base of Mt. Fuji on the northwest side. It is just over a two-hour drive.  


In the village, we had a stunning view of Mt. Fuji. 


The buildings were recreations of traditional Japanese structures. 


Here we are at the building for napping and dozing. It was too chilly for either! 


A highlight for all the girls in our group was being fitted for kimonos. 


I originally selected this kimono. The lady informed me it was too short for my “jumbo” size. She selected the yellow for me instead. 


The finished product was worth the effort. 


James was a sport to pose with the parasol. 


The highlight of the day for him was the ramen. 


The hostess at the restaurant was the cutest little puppy with her pearl necklace. Only in Japan! 


The other highlight was the short stop at the Wind Cave on the way home. A nerdy science teacher’s day was complete! Big mountain sighting and cave exploring followed by a walk in the woods. 


The surrounding woods were so lush, despite the cool temperatures and small patches of snow. 


It was a long day filled with so much discovery. We completed the night with a delicious family style Sushi dinner! 


I think we all enjoyed a day packed with a variety of Japanese experiences. Next up, we take on Tokyo! 

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Dave and I rode the train up to Shin-Yokohama to visit the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. The trip took less than an hour and only two trains. The museum opened at 10:30 and we arrived by 11:00. We have learned, when in Japan, always be early! 


The entrance to the museum is at ground level. The museum is marked by a giant bowl of ramen, of course! 

The two floors of the actual museum are in the basement. At the museum, there are a variety of ramen from different regions in Japan. There are a total of nine different ramen restaurants. Does the numbering of this sign bother you? Haha


The museum is decorated to create the feeling of Japan of yesterday. 


We were given an English pamphlet to help us learn about the different types. Notice there is no order to how the numbers are assigned to the ramen. 


We selected the number 9 ramen restaurant. Here is the description. 


And pictures. Dave picked the salt based ramen.


And I selected the soy sauce based ramen. 


Nom nom nom… 


Happiness is a giant bowl of ramen. 


Apparently, there was an option to buy a smaller quantity just for tasting. We were ordering using a machine and a lot was lost in translation. In the end, it was just as well because, the lines were ridiculously long by the time we finished eating. This was the line for where we just finished eating! 

I took this picture from the balcony of the second floor (B1) looking down to the first basement floor (B2). So many people standing in orderly lines! 

It was a fun experience. We went on a Sunday and expected crowds. Honestly, it wasn’t “the best ramen” I’ve had since living here. However, it would be a good opportunity to taste ramen from another region. When you visit and want to go, I will suggest we try the Okinawa ramen (#5). Another positive, we can return later on the same day because re-entry is allowed! 

Tall and Small

Dina and I went to Kamakura to do a little shopping. After walking down Komachi Dori for a little bit, we were ready for lunch and decided to enjoy a bowl of ramen. The first place we found was closed. I did a quick “ramen near me” search on Google Maps.

 Google Maps led us to Hirano. 

Turns out, Hirano is the Japan’s smallest ramen joint. The sign out front was hysterical. 


As we were reading the sign, we thought we should first check to see if there was room for us before determining our order. As luck would have it, when we opened the door, three people came out. Therefore, plenty of room! 


There were actually two more seats available. Seven seats total. (Can you see all 4 customers? Plus me taking the picture.) 

Our chef in the kitchen. 


Ironically, the smallest ramen joint in Japan still serves ginormous bowls of ramen. 


I ordered the #4 special ramen. Miso base with a little spice. It was good. It made the top five of my favorite ramen joints mainly because of the restaurant itself. 


Seriously, could this place be any funnier!?!


Perhaps, when Dina poses for me! 

Kamakura is full of so many bizarre and unique experiences. I truly can’t wait to take you there when you visit! 

Here are my finds from our shopping. Can you tell it is Sakura Season? A couple bowls, plates, chopstick rests and adorable cats. Kawaii!! 

Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese staple dish. It is served in a large bowl with copious amounts of thin curly noodles and a pork or fish broth. The dish includes toppings such as sliced pork (chashu), dried seaweed (nori), a boiled egg (tamago), marinated bamboo shoots (menma), processed fish cakes (kamaboko) and green onions (negi). A fun note about the fish cakes, sometimes they are presented as a white circle with frilly edges and a pink spiral through the center.


Most ramen restaurants offer the choice of either soy sauce broth or salt broth. The bowl is served with a special spoon that rests nicely on the side of the bowl when not in use. Chopsticks are also served with the meal. Locals will typically use the chopsticks to grab the noodles and toppings. After placing the noodles in their mouth, they slurp. Surprisingly, this is completely acceptable. I haven’t been able to adopt this custom. I prefer to fish out the noodles with my chopsticks, place them neatly on my spoon and then take the spoon with noodles to my mouth. No slurping required.

We have tried many ramen restaurants over the past 4.5 months (3 in Yokosuka alone!). In fact, it was our first meal when we arrived in Japan on July 31st.

Salt ramen in Yokosuka. Our first meal in Japan.


Soy ramen in Yokohama


Salt ramen with extra nori in Yokosuka (my favorite)


Soy ramen in Yokosuka


Salt ramen with extra pork & extra egg, too much! (No English at this restaurant in Yokohama making it a little more difficult to get the right item ordered)


Salt ramen after Cat Temple

Many restaurants that serve only ramen are very small and have a long bar where customers sit. Typically, ramen isn’t a “relaxing” meal. Think of it as made to order fast food Japanese style! The cook sets a timer each time he drops noodles into the boiling water. It only takes 3 minutes to boil the noodles! The warm broth and noodles make ramen a perfect meal on a chilly winter day.

The condiments on the bar counter include a spicy powder, spicy sesame sauce, soy sauce and a couple of different paste items. I’m sure the sign behind them tells me what to add to make it extra delicious. Dave adds the spicy stuff, I prefer mine plain. The tissues are napkins.

The glasses are for the self-serve water.


This past weekend was the first time Dave and I experienced the walk up ordering system. Fortunately, the machine had a little bit of English and coordinating number system. Also, the restaurant server spoke a little English and helped by explaining the English and numbers. We deposited our Yen and made our selections.


I ordered a Number 2 (salt broth – second picture from the left on the top row). I pushed the matching number 2 on the second row (green), third button of the machine. Remember, they read from right to left. So, it makes sense the smaller number is to the right, right? Maybe. Dave ordered the Number 4 (salt broth with extra meat – second picture from the left on the bottom row). He pushed the matching number 4 on the second row (green), second button on the machine. And then we both pushed the beer button! Bottom row (blue), first button from the left. After that evolution, perhaps we needed a second beer!

The ramen was very good and made our bellies full and happy. The nori and green onion bites are my favorite!! No worries, when you visit, ramen will be a must eat – at least twice! You need to decide if you like the soy or salt broth the best!!

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