Ramen is the most popular Japanese dish for foreign visitors to Japan. Originally, ramen came to Japan from China,but it has come to be recognized as typical Japanese food in recent years.
In 2017, a recipe for ramen noodles which dated back to 1488, was discovered in Japan, so the Japanese have been eating ramen as far back as the 15th century or earlier. Many ramen shops were opened after 1900 and nowadays there is a great variety of ramen shops throughout Japan. Every area has its own local ramen.
Typically, noodles are made from flour and brine and vary in thickness. There are many different broths, such as chicken, pork, beef, bonito (dried fish), kombu (dried seaweed) and more. The flavor of the broth changes depending on the ingredients added. Prices are usually very reasonable and it is not surprising that most Japanese people eat ramen at least once a week. Eating ramen after a night’s drinking is especially popular, but perhaps not the healthiest.
The other day, I went to a unique ramen shop, at least by Japanese standards, because the ramen contained no animal products at all. In other words, no meat, no chicken and no dairy products were used in terms of the broth and the extra ingredients. It was the first time I had eaten vegan ramen. I enjoyed pork-flavored ramen.....without the pork! It was delicious, not oily at all, and with a pleasing aroma. And, of course, it was very healthy. Among the other dishes was vegan fried chicken, made from soy beans. Coffee and tea were also served with a choice of brown sugar syrup and soy milk.
There aren’t many vegan restaurants in Japan, so this place is very special. By the way, the menu is also available in English, Chinese, and Korean. Many foreign visitors enjoy dining at that restaurant. I hope to see more vegan restaurants in Japan.
Below is the name of vegan ramen shop and the link. Enjoy!
The Japanese Bath
The Japanese think of a bath as a place where we can relax and communicate with each other. It can be a shared social experience, not just a place to wash. It is not unusual for young children to take a bath with their parents or grandparents at home. As they soak in the bath, they can talk about their day, among other things. The children can also study by learning to count or by studying Japanese hiragana (a form of the Japanese alphabet).
“Onsen” means “hot spring” in Japanese and Japan has a lot of onsens because there are many volcanos. Onsens have enriched our lives for many years. Additionally, many customs have developed in connection to the onsen. For example, we like to admire the surrounding scenery and take the time to appreciate the different plants and flowers that our four distinct seasons provide us with. It’s a humbling and relaxing experience, especially when we need a break from our busy lives.
If you ever have the chance to visit an onsen,I would like to share some basic rules about using an onsenin Japan. What is most important is that we should wash our bodies before soaking in the communal hot spring bath. This is important because we want to keep the water in the bathtub perfectly clean. Therefore, we must not rub or exfoliate our bodies in the bathtub either. On the other hand, it is quite normal to place our small towels on our heads while in the bathtub; however, we usually do not submerge the towels in the bath water. In the bath tub, we talk quietly to each other to keep it peaceful and relaxing for the other guests. Once you are ready to leave the bath, we dry our bodies before entering the changing room to keep the floors dry to avoid any slips and falls.
In case you’re wondering, onsens use only natural hot spring water, where sentos use city water....both are public baths. By the way, it is perfectly normal to talk with strangers, while naked, in a sentoand an onsen. We are comfortable talking openly this way because our souls are bare and we are also always thinking about have comfortable relationship with strangers.
I hope you get to experience bathing in an onsenwhile visiting Japan....one of our favorite and most relaxing activities.
The Japanese love raw eggs on rice!
In Japan, there is an old custom of eating raw eggs. Having said that, Japanese has an original food hygiene management system and it’s been said that it is the best in the world. We have a strict policy about the laying hens’ diet; their diet is very clean and healthy. Eggs are also packed germ-free via washing, drying and sterilization. In addition, each egg has a label that tells us the expiration date of when we can consume the eggs raw. Furthermore, the expiration date for Japanese eggs are shorter than most countries since we often like to eat them raw. So we do not have to worry about the bacteria or getting sick from eating them. We eat raw eggs with Sukiyaki (Japanese Beef Hot Pot), and Udon (thick wheat noodles), etc., as well as with rice. There is a special soy sauce we use for eating raw eggs with rice. If you ever have the opportunity, you should try it!!! You’ll be surprised with how delicious it is!
At this museum, you can learn about the history of Tokyo during the Edo era, from 1603 to 1868. The museum provides foreign translations in at least six different languages. You are sure to find the dioramas, hands-on displays and the full-size models very fascinating. The museum is extremely large and it can take up to three hours to see all the exhibits. It is located near the Ryogoku-Kokugikan where Tokyo’s major Sumo tournaments are held. This is a great area to immerse yourself in a genuine Tokyo atmosphere.
Hinamatsuri is Girls’ Day.
March 3rd is Hinamatsuri in Japan. This is known as Girls’ Day or Japanese Doll Festival in English. Sometimes it is also called “Momo no Sekku,” which means Peach Festival since March is the peach blossom season.
Girl's day is meant to celebrate the health and happiness of our daughters. Families display special dolls called Hinaningyo and there are about 7 tiers. The main dolls (top tier) are the Emperor: Odagiri-Sama and the Empress: Ohina-Sama. The tiers below are the court ladies, musicians, ministers and servants. They wear court attire of the Heian period, which was from 794-1192.
It’s an old Japanese superstition that if the daughter gets sick or has an accident around Girls’ Day, the dolls are floated down a river to get rid of the bad luck.
On this special day, we also eat traditional dishes such as chirashi sushi, which literally means “scattered sushi.” It's rice mixed with a variety of spring vegetables and toppings sprinkled on top (e.g boiled shrimp, lotus root, salmon eggs, snow peas, shredded crepe egg, dried seaweed, etc.) Immediately after Hinamatsuri is over, the families put away the dolls until next year because if they don’t, it is believed the girls will get married late!
You're able to enjoy Hinamatsuri events in almost every city in Japan from the middle of February to the beginning of March.
Shibuya crossing (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo)
Shibuya crossing is the biggest crossing in the world. 3,000 people regularly cross it when the lights turn green, and approximately 500,000 people cross every day. It became famous internationally because of the movie “Lost In Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola).” It is near the Hachiko exit of JR’s Shibuya station. I recommend that you take in the view from a nearby café. There are a number of cafes that I would recommend: Starbucks, Shibuya Tsutaya (this overlooks the crossing!), L’Occitane Café (you may have to wait in line), Hoshino coffee in the 109 MEN’S department store, or estacion café on the fifth floor of the Excel Tokyu Hotel. Even if it is a rainy day, don’t let it get you down. Because you can be sure to enjoy a lot of colorful umbrellas!
L’OCCITANE Cafe Shibuya
Address: 2F and 3F Shibuya Eki Mae Biru, 2-3-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Map)
Hoshino coffee in the 109 MEN’S department store
Address: Shibuya 109 Men’s 2F, 1-23-10, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (map)