The press sells cider from their own orchard, but I’ll have to take a second trek back –in the afternoon, thank god– when the store is open. Rather than hanging around and coveting other people’s cider, we took a drive in the country to take advantage of the foggy morning and snap some more photos:
More than just a path to this amazing temple, Omote-Sando Road in Narita City, Japan is an attraction in itself. With buildings dating back to the Edo period and shops frequented by locals and tourists alike, we had a blast shopping, gawking and eating our way down the street.
You’ll find plenty of specialty food shops, as well as local crafts. We really could have done almost all of our souvenir shopping here (well, here and the Cup Noodle Museum) and saved the trouble earlier in our trip.
Ok, so not everything is approriate as a souvenir (and good luck getting these through customs), but fun browsing nonetheless.
Not sure what these are. But I really like their packaging design.
There’s even a grocery, if you’re like me and have just as much fun at the grocery store as the tourist spots when you visit a new country.
Some shops clearly cater to tourists, though the overall area has a much less touristy vibe than the streets surrounding temples in Kyoto.
I just like this little guy. He’s a tanuki statue, based on folklore surrounding the Japanese raccoon dog. These statues are common in Japan, symbolizing luck and prosperity.
Narita City is famous for its local specialty, unagi, which is barbequed eel. There’s no shortage of restaurants offering the dish, and we lingered over all the window displays before finally choosing one.
If you’ve never had unagi before, eel might not sound very appetizing. It’s actually really fantastic and one of the more accessible dishes to even picky palates. The fish itself is mild in flavor, with a touch of sweetness from the sauce, and done right, it nearly melts in your mouth!
I opted for the unagi lunch set with cold dipping noodles, divine in hot weather (and much pined for now that I’m back in the US).
Before this trip, I didn’t know that I like sake! Whatever swill I’d been fed previously turned me off of it until I sampled good Japanese sake. Luckily there’s plenty available to bring home at the sake shop, and you can even pick up a gift set with the Narita City airplane logo.
If you’re thinking of visiting, Narita City has resources for planning your stay here.
(this post sponsored by Narita City. as always, all opinions are my own)
First stop was the (at least locally) famous Iseya Yakitori. All recollection of my camera was temporarily lost in the presence of barbecued meat and beer, but I eventually remembered to Instagram our food!
Yokohama’s Cup Noodle Museum
The Cup Noodle Museum was our first stop on the day trip to Yokohama that included the Raumen Museum (see that post here). Both were fantastic in their own right, but if I had to pick just one, the Cup Noodle Museum offers far more to do. Read on to see the museum, dining, and make your own ramen experience!
From the beginning, the Cup Noodle museum has a gorgeous, clean, modern aesthetic. My favorite display was the room of all their flavors and brands, arranged in chronological order.
Befitting a museum created to promote a brand, they lay it on pretty thick, fawning over founder Momofuku Ando. Fortunately, it’s exaggerated and stylistic enough that it simply becomes good, goofy fun.
Ramen art or Flying Spaghetti Monster origin myth?
Below, a recreation of the little shed in which Ando invented instant ramen.
After you’ve made your way through the museum (or before, if you’re hungry), the Noodle Bazaar awaits! Choose from 8 stands representing noodle dishes around the world.
You’ll order through the familiar ticket machines, then hand your ticket to the staff at the window. Don’t worry, there are English titles on the buttons, so you shouldn’t have any trouble ordering.
Make Your Own Chicken Ramen Factory
The museum offers a hands-on “Chicken Ramen Factory” experience for 500 yen a person. We had Japanese friends call ahead to make a reservation, but you can sign up on the day of at the ticket office as well, just keep in mind they’re likely to be busier on weekends and holidays.
There’s a bandanna (which you get to take home), and an apron waiting for you at the orientation tables.
You’re separated into small groups and assigned a staff member who will guide you through the process, from mixing and kneading your dough, all the way to cutting the noodles. Ours spoke limited English, but he was very sweet and patient with me when I was snapping photos instead of assisting my partner! There’s an English instruction sheet, and you’ll do fine with a little miming.
The cute elderly couple in our group…possibly the only other adults that weren’t accompanying children. Don’t feel self conscious about going, though! No one minds, and I’m sure there’s often groups with a larger concentration of adults.
The staff never stop moving! Above, rushing to clean up while we’re decorating our packaging and waiting for our noodles to be fried.
The staff handles the more dangerous process of deep frying the noodles to dry them in a glassed in kitchen. All baskets are numbered, so the noodles you take home are the exact noodles you hand kneaded, and you can watch your ramen going through the process.
They aren’t only holding out the noodles for my photo; everyone is welcome to crowd around the glass and the staff member who was assisting at your table happily shows you your ramen as it’s processed.
After all our hard work, the finished product!
Before you leave, you’ll want to stop by the gift shop, which has all kinds of fun Cup Noodle souvenirs.
They sell Cup Noodle gift sets, candles, pretty much everything that can be branded, and these fantastic Cup Noodle shaped cakes, a fun twist on a traditional Japanese sweet with azuki bean filling. Lots of these came back with me for gifts!
Ramen, really, is basically junk food. But I wanted something you could eat every day and not feel sick. And hopefully, you’ll come back.
Ivan Ramen succeeds on this front (and quite a few others). We made our way back to the train station feeling weighed down only by our yearning for an Ivan Ramen in our little corner of the world.