We got kicked out of our rooms at 8:00AM which was fun 🙂 It makes sense though because the cleaners need to get the rooms ready for the next group of passengers at 4:00PM. We got some breakfast and then got off at 9:30AM back onto the gorgeous Yokohama cruise terminal. I will never get over how graceful that structure is.
Even though we had visited four ports, it still felt so weird to be on land. There’s this thing called sea legs where you still feel the ground moving underneath you even when you’re on land. This is because your muscles are so used to adjusting and helping you balance out the bumpiness of the ship. It almost feels like there’s a small earthquake underneath your feet (by the way, I did NOT feel the earthquake when it hit Issaquah! I kind of wish I did!).
There was no big rush to go to our next stop on our trip: Kyoto. Because of this, we decided to hit one more attraction in Yokohama. I initially thought that the instant noodle museum and the ramen museum were the same place, but nope! They’re completely different places.
We dragged out suitcases to the JR Train Station and stored them in lockers. The ramen museum was just a couple minute walk from the Shinyokohama station, so we bounced over there quickly.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this museum, but it was actually quite interesting in concept. There were three floors: the first floor, the first basement, and the second basement. The first floor was just the history of ramen and discussed what ramen exactly is. There was a timeline of how ramen evolved and where the different types of ramen popped up in history, such as miso ramen (which was invented by a cook who wanted to give workers miso soup because they missed their homemade miso soup). There were also a few graphics that explored how there are unlimited ways to make ramen if you adjust the proportions of ingredients that go in it.
When you think of a museum, you normally imagine displays of items or pictures that talk about the history and impact of something. That was not the case with this museum.
This museum is actually called the first food amusement park, and when I saw that term in the front entrance, I was a little confused.
What exactly is a food amusement park?
Well, remember that cafeteria I told you about at the instant ramen museum and how it is exactly like my old vision for a restaurant? This ramen museum hits EXACTLY what I wanted my restaurant to look like. The whole “museum” aspect of this place was that there were two floors (the first and second basement) that were fashioned to look like a Japanese city. They even had mock balconies and clothes lines and billboards and everything! There were approximately ten restaurants split between the first and second floors of this city that took influence from different parts of the world. The descriptions in the brochure mentioned that there was a restaurant that had a Canada-influenced ramen, another that was popular in Germany and France, another that hailed from Shanghai, and others from different regions in Japan.
I tried the one from Shanghai, and what made it special was that it was a miso ramen with a ball of hot sauce on top that slowly melted into the soup. I like ramen with thicker soup and chewy noodles, and WOW this restaurant hit both of those points!
They weren’t lying when they said it was a really thick broth. It was so rich with miso and had a little bit of a concentrated mild bitter taste, if you know what I mean. It was salty (as expected) and I couldn’t drink it by itself. The hot sauce wasn’t extremely spicy, which I wasn’t surprised about because generally Japanese people can’t eat super spicy food. However, I didn’t mix in the hot sauce so that I got it with every bite rather than diluting it in soup I won’t drink. It was so good and had a little bit of a tangy taste to it, and it definitely helped set this ramen apart from any other miso ramen that I’ve tried.
The noodles themselves were beyond any other ramen noodle I’ve tried. It wasn’t your normal wavy yellow noodles or straight white noodles that just absorb the broth and then go soggy. No. These noodles reminded me of Chinese handmade noodles that are really doughy and don’t necessarily absorb the soup, but rather carry it. The texture was uneven which enhanced the chewiness (I’m cringing at the language I’m writing in but I really don’t know how to write food reviews so excuse my French).
11/10 the best ramen I’ve ever had, and might be the best meal I’ve had on the entire trip. Beats the sardine ramen for sure. Can’t argue with me on that.
After the ramen museum, we headed back to the train station, got our bags, and bought our tickets for the train to Kyoto. There’s a really recent invention in Japan called the Shinkansen, which is a superfast bullet train. It got us from Yokohama to Kyoto in just about two hours!
I also want to note that every single train in Japan is on time. I’ve never seen a train system that’s so perfectly timed. They even have arrival times perfectly!
Kyoto was a city that I didn’t really know what to expect from because the Kyoto that I know is full of temples on the outskirts but not really much to do within the city itself. My expectations were relatively low, which I guess is why it completely shocked me and now I’m in love with Kyoto and want to study abroad there. Let me tell you why.
First of all, we arrived at Kyoto Station and if you’ve been paying attention to my blog posts, you’ll know that I love architecture and admiring building structure. Kyoto Station is a typical station that’s gray, but the roof arches over with intricate weaving of gray segments that make it look like a stadium in a way. It’s also very open and allows for air flow from the outside, so it’s not stuffy like most train stations. The holes in the roof from the design allowed sunlight to filter in and illuminate the station, and there was an area where you could see all the way up to the roof, which means you could see the layers of floors. The escalators were lined up one right after the other, so it was amazing to see limitless escalators traveling upward to nothingness because you couldn’t see all the way to the top. There was also an entire ramen floor, a department store, and so many bakeries!
Our hotel was literally across the street from the station, and was so perfect. Our room had a bed for each person, a Japanese bath, and a fun coffee machine in the lobby guest lounge 🙂
There wasn’t really much we could do in Kyoto since we arrived in the evening, so we just went to a nearby mall and walked around. Inside the mall, we found a carousel sushi place which we decided to try because we hadn’t had much sushi yet and also because carousel sushi is fun!
All in all, I super hyped to explore Kyoto, but we only have one full day here. Time to make the most of it!