7/25/19 – A Little More Sodium

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

Daily Japanese word: Pufferfish = Fugu (フグ)

Today was our last day in Toyko 😦 It was nice to start the morning out again with the same Japanese breakfast from the day before, but I was surprised to find that I wasn’t as hungry as I was previously. Last time I went to Japan, I came back and didn’t eat very much because I grew accustomed to the lightness of Japanese food and the smaller portions. I enjoyed a cup of hojicha, a roasted green tea, for the majority of the morning.

Another discovery I had was Japanese apple juice!! The apple juice that I had was so light and refreshing with no artificial colors in it. It tasted exactly like a fresh cut apple and almost as if you took a bite out and just enjoyed the juice from the slice. I wish I could bring back this apple juice to the States, because it was the best apple juice I’ve ever had!

Hojicha, my rising addiction

Rather than spend the morning touring Tokyo and then heading to Yokohama, my family decided to head out to Yokohama right after breakfast because there’s so much to do there. Yokohama is a 30 minute train ride away from Tokyo, and is considered an extension of it since it is comparable in the size and urbanity of the city. We just took a local train with our suitcases, which wasn’t as much of a hassle as I thought it would be.

Daily drain pic

We met my grandparents at the Yokohama train station and after dropping off our bags at the hotel, we all went to the Cup Noodle Museum! This was a museum I saw on a list of popular attractions in Yokohama, and it seemed interesting considering that I will be eating a lot of these over the next four years at college. Might as well know the history and appreciation behind it too.

The Cup Noodle museum was actually much more interesting and well put together than I thought, and I learned a lot behind the invention and progression of the product.

Instant ramen was invented by Momofuku Ando as a business venture after a long line of failed business attempts on his part. He noticed that there was a lot of food shortages, especially after the war, so he wanted to create an easily accessible meal that could be easily distributed to everybody.

Building on the idea of ramen, Momofuku had to figure out to dehydrate noodles and rehydrate them just with hot water. He got the inspiration one day from his wife when she was making tempura. When you dehydrate the fried noodles, the “pores” of the dough shrink and thus make it more compact but when you add the hot water, the holes enlarge again and make the noodles soft and flexible again.

The idea of cup noodles came a few years later when Momofuku was visiting America and trying to explain the concept of instant noodles to Americans. Their way of understanding it was breaking up the instant noodle and putting it in a cup of hot water and eating it with a fork. That led to the concept of cup noodles.

The next issue was how to pack the noodles in mass production because if a machine drops the dehydrated noodles in the cup, all the noodle blocks would be broken and sideways and there wouldn’t be consistency in the way the noodles are packaged. Momofuku came up with the reverse packing idea, where the noodle bricks are lined up on the conveyer belt and the cups are dropped onto the noodles and then flipped.

The entire exhibit was trying to be a little philosophical and discussed work ethic. A few pointers I gathered from it are:

  1. If you have an idea, act on it

  2. Gather inspiration from anywhere

  3. Nurture ideas. Don’t confine yourself to just one tree of an idea; grow a whole forest of them

The best part of this entire museum was the Cup Noodle Factory where you get to design your own cup noodle and customize your ingredients. It was only 300¥ for the entire experience (about $2.90) and it was fun for all ages, not just little kids.

Another interesting aspect of this museum was their food court. The food court was designed to look like a street with food vendors from around the world. It was meant to celebrate the diversity of noodles and had dishes such as mi goreng, laksa, tom yum, and spaghetti. In a way, it reminded me of this old restaurant idea I had when I was in fifth grade called Yesterday’s Main Street where I wanted to create a restaurant where people could go around and choose the type of cuisine they want. I wanted to have mini restaurants with different cultural themes from around the world within my big restaurant so that people could try everything in one place.

After the ramen museum, we visited the Yokohama Chinatown which is the best Chinatown in the world because of how clean it is. There are ten beautiful gates located around the area and we managed to find 8/10 of the gates around the area. I was shocked at how many meat bun and boba shops there were around the area. I swear that every store on the street sold boba!! There were also several side streets, one of which was Hong Kong themed with dim sum and chashu stores.

I’m a sucker for signs, and this street fulfilled my sign dreams. There were so many lights and signs of different sizes and levels up and down the buildings. I just wanted to take them and bring them home. I really wish that we went more towards nighttime because I bet that looking at the signs glowing the dark would enhance the Chinatown experience so much more.

We retired to the hotel early after eating some Japanese curry for dinner to save our energy for our Mt. Fuji trip tomorrow, but we got a spectacular view on the 52nd floor. This is the best way I could imagine spending my summer vacation!

Beautiful views with a hyperextended arm!

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