Ramen Hurrah! A Final Trip to Fukuoka

The weekend of June 20 & 21st, I caught a plane to Southwest Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture with two of my favorite people in Japan, Hal and Alex. It was Alex who, upon hearing that I had not even had proper ramen since arriving in Tokyo and would be leaving soon, made it his duty to ensure my final weeks here were spent truly appreciating the country’s culinary magnificence. He and Hal introduced me to some ramen so good it has changed some lifelong-held feelings about food, so it was only fitting that my last big trip here in Japan be a “ramen for every meal for an entire weekend” tour of Hakata, originator of the astoundingly delicious tonkotsu ramen.

 

 

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We saw the results of a kid’s art competition to make signs about safety and manners on the trains. We stood in the train station looking at these for half an hour like we were in a museum.

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We bought fireworks and sake and got drunk and shot fireworks until the cops kicked us out for shooting some that went into the air (against the rules). “Sayonara,” the cop said to us as we left, which isn’t really a “farewell” but rather an absolutely final “good bye forever.” Good riddance. hah! Next we ran into some Nepali dudes in a conbini who really wanted us to “come jam” with them. They had one guitar on which to jam. Somehow, as drunk folks do, we all ended up sitting on steps playing that guitar and singing together for about an hour while a tiny crowd of Japanese college students still awake at 1am gathered and listened with applause. Good times.

The next morning, Alex had lost his phone. We retraced our steps like the movie The Hangover, and after hours of searching and literally being one step away from giving up, we tried one more Koban (“police box” — a tiny police station you can find just about anywhere) and true to Japanese fashion, someone had turned it in. You just about never lose anything or have anything stolen in Japan.

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Saw another of the literally hundreds of gorgeous temples in this country…

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And when we weren’t eating ramen it was yatai (street vendor food).

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Best ramen in Japan? It’s a tie for first between Ichiran and Ippudo, and the snobs out there will quickly say “This guy is such a tourist, those are the most popular places everybody says.” But the fact is those incredible restaurants made it out of Hakata for a reason – they’re incredibly good.

PS: I almost forgot to mention the tea ceremony we had at the culture center. 🙂

Thanks Alex & Hal for an incredible trip!!

 

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