TOKYO – Day 2: Noodles, barriers, and prizes

Today we found ramen. Ramen here is nothing like what you might find in packets in grocery stores. It is an entirely different creature. And there are seemingly infinite varieties.

When you stop at a good ramen shop, there is often a line of people waiting to enter. You pass by a menu machine.

This machine has some English.  Many don’t, which makes the process more complicated.

Put coins or bills and make your selections. With each item you get a little ticket. These you turn over to the folks behind the counter. You take your seat as other customers finish and depart.


Yes, I opted for Coke.

Our choice of shop was a good one.


You line up behind the other diners and wait for an open seat.

My choice, today, was to have the noodles on the side rather in the bowl.  You then dip them into your broth.  Theoretically this keeps your noodles from overcooking. The drawback is that they get cold.  For that, you can warm things up with hot water from nearby thermoses.

Spectacular.   This isn’t your college undergrad budget bowl.

Back on the street again, one finds countless instances of the presence of Hello Kitty.  Hard to imagine, but it is so.   Even in traffic and street barriers.  I guess the unwelcoming dimension of the “No” implicit in the barrier is made more polite by the bad news’ herald, Hello Kitty.

I continue to come up with my interpretations of the exciting subway PSAs.


More later.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. spock says:

    Stay away from the Blowfish Father.

    We want you around a long time.


  2. Ahhhh, so you have discovered the sacred Meal praised in multiple Japanese Animes known as ramen. Ohh what a treat!!! My favourite place in Toronto is right next to where I work, part of a small chain called Kinton Ramen. Check them out:

    If you ever come to Toronto Father, it would be a great place to eat. Absolutely delicious! They’ve also expanded to include a Yakitori bar somewhere in the city too.

    What kind of flavour or type do you prefer? Miso? Shoyu? Tokonotsu? Spicy?

  3. Gratias says:

    Hope you do not get lost in translation Father. That noodle slurping shop makes one homesick for a ristorante in the Borgo Pio. Cheers.

  4. Mariana2 says:

    “Kindly do not stick the conductor with you poisoned umbrella.”

  5. gracie says:

    Aren’t the Japanese the most polite people in the world? Sometimes, when I couldn’t find a place I was looking for – they have hardly any street signs – I would stop passerbys to ask directions. All I wanted was for them to point me in the right direction. Instead they would motion to me to follow them and take me to the place I was looking for. The first time it was a couple of high school girls who did this for me – on an on we went – it must have been for a good five minutes – I was mortified that they were doing this. Finally they stopped in front of the Science Museum I had been looking for, pointed to it and bowed to me. I didn’t know what to do – I was so embarrassed – I offered them money – they refused, smiled, and walked off. This kind act was repeated a number of times when I got lost and had to ask for directions over the four years I lived there. In fact, it forced me to face the fact that these people were a lot kinder to me than I would be if the tables were turned – as an American it’s unthinkable to take that kind of time to actually bring someone to their destination – it’s not part of our culture to do so much for a stranger.

    May I relate another memory? My mother was visiting us and one night we went to a restaurant. There were about 8 stairs that we had to walk down to go get to their front door – it was in the basement of a building. My mom wasn’t up to doing the stairs – she had Parkinsons and was using a cane and couldn’t walk very well. What to do? We asked the manager if there was an elevator she could use. There wasn’t but the man said “no problem” and – along with a waiter he had summoned – walked out the door, up to the street, bowed to my mom, and then he and the waiter simply picked her up – they made their hands into a seat for her – and carefully carried her down the stairs into the restaurant. When we left later, there they were again – we didn’t even have to ask them for help – they simply picked her up once more and carried her upstairs. Then they bowed to her again. It was such a kind act on their part – I could have wept because I knew they had taken away her embarrassment by honoring her in that way. I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine that happening here. Maybe years ago people here would have thought nothing of doing that for an elderly lady but those days are gone – now we say “sorry” and send such people away.

  6. Rob in Maine says:

    Imanine waiting in line, shuffling forward as patrons eat and leave . You finally sit at the conter and surrender your ticket stubs. Suddenly the sever looks up and barks, “No Soup for You!”

  7. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Hello Kitty: kawaii.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Ah, I have always wanted to visit Japan. Lucky you, Fr. Z. Hope you stay safe and well. Enjoying the posts on Tokyo.

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