The Shinyokohama Ramen Museum
It was 1958, and we were hungry. Luckily, we were near Narutabashi Station, where there are at least a dozen ramen shops to choose from. We sat down to big bowls of steaming noodles, and talked about the news of the day… Khrushchev seems a reasonable new leader for the Soviets, doesn’t he? Then my cellphone rang and I remembered: this isn’t 1958. And there is no train station called Narutabashi. The year was 2014 and we were inside Shinyokohama’s Ramen Museum.
The Ramen Museum’s claim to the word “museum” is tenuous at best. On the top floor there’s some information about the history of ramen, but most visitors skip right by this. No, the reason for this museum’s considerable popularity is its restaurants. On the lower two floors, twelve excellent ramen shops are spread across a setting meant to evoke the year 1958, when the dish was invented.
In essence, the Ramen Museum is nothing more than a food court, but it’s a great food court. We had a blast walking around the fake neighborhood, looking at the old movie posters and photographs, buying sweets at the candy shop, and watching classic wrestling on a TV found in one of the house windows. The attention to detail was impressive. There was even a guy in uniform calling out fake train schedules.
After taking a couple laps, we decided to eat at a shop called Nidai-me Genkotsu-ya, where we enjoyed big helpings of ramen in a rich, golden broth. As we were slurping down our noodles, we noticed that most of the other patrons were ordering small bowls; they were probably planning on sampling variations at the different shops, and we kicked ourselves for not doing the same.
The museum costs ¥300 to enter, and then you have to pay for your ramen, normally around ¥800 for a bowl. The Ramen Museum is a strange place and not incredibly easy to reach from Tokyo (halfway to the city of Yokohama), but we had a lot of fun here… and a great lunch.