Friday, August 04, 2006

ラーメン博物館 (Ramen Museum) - Shin Yokohama

Shin Yokohama's Ramen Museum is a "ramen theme park" where you can learn the history of ramen, experience life in Tokyo as it was back in 1958 (the year that instant ramen was invented), and try out many local ramen from all over Japan.

Old Tokyo frozen in time
When you enter the museum there is an entrance that resembles an old subway entrance that leads to the basement of the museum. As you walk down the stairs you are transported back in time to Tokyo's shita-machi downtown in the late 1950's. Here the city is frozen in time right as the sun is about to set in the evening, just as the ramen shops and street merchants are at their busiest.

Here, among the retro style store fronts and food stands, you will find the actual ramen shops where they serve the latest trendy dishes from all over Japan. There are usually long lines for most of the stores, requiring anywhere from 10-40 minute waits.

Childhood memories revisited
Within this replica of 1950's Tokyo are old alley ways filled with artifacts from that period. Hidden within the old buildings and props are actual shops that sell snacks and toys from that period.

駄菓子や (Dagashi-ya) are shops that sell cheap candies and toys that were popular back in the 50's and 60's. Some of the candies that were popular at these stores were ふ菓子 (fugashi) which is deep fried o-fu dipped in syrup. 麦チョコ (mugi-choco) little pieces of wheat dipped in chocolate. 酢いか (su-ika) dried vinager squid. The toys we used to buy in these stores included paper balloons, styrophone airplanes to super balls.

Old School Lunch
Back in the US flavored milk pretty much came in 2 varieties: chocolate and strawberry. Back in the 70's when I went to Japan I was shocked when I found that in their schools they had neither. Instead they had coffee flavored, fruit flavored and apple flavored milk. Fruit flavored milk is almost like someone blended juicy fruit gum with milk, while the apple flavored milk was sweet and sour and down right nasty. Guess what? you can try them all at the ramen museum where they have the classic school lunches available that only reflect half of inflation prices.

Oh, and there's ramen too!
Ko-MurasakiSo I did manage to try out two ramen shops during my last trip to the ramen museum. One was Ko-Murasaki, a Kumamoto style ramen shop.

HachiyaThe other shop that I tried was a Asahikawa style ramen called Hachiya.


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