Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Ikaruga Ramen, #10 in Japan
九段 斑鳩（いかるが - 東京都千代田区九段北1-9-12
Kudan Ikaruga - 1-9-12 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
From Kudanshita station, walk north from the big intersection for a couple stop lights and turn right. It's on the right side.
This ramen shop was ranked #10 in Japan. Another tip of the hat came on a TV special dedicated to ramen that appeals to women. You see, ramen is kind of a guy thing in Japan. I don't know why this is, I've enlisted plenty of girls to accompany me on ramen hunts, but the truth is that you rarely see a female in a ramen shop. But here at Ikaruga, it was about fifty fifty.
Maybe it was the decor. The walls weren't covered with old business cards, there were actual tables to sit at, lighting was good.
Maybe it was the staff. They wore sharp black uniforms and were mostly young. They spoke with a very feminine tone. Normally, when you leave, you hear a round of arigatou gozaimasu being screamed with as much energy as can be mustered. The masu at the end is short and strong. But here the masu was long and drawn out and kind of sweet sounding. Very distinct.
Or maybe it was the ramen itself. This one was particularly creamy. Thats what stuck out the most. No strong flavors or unsightly strips of fat on the pork. A little heavy, but in a good way.
Here's the women's ramen video. Ikaruga is the fourth one.
So what can you do in this part of town? Chiyoda-ku is where the Imperial Palace is. Want to go inside? Too bad, it's off limits. The massive palace grounds is closed to the public for all except two occasions a year, the Emperor's birthday and New Years day. I happened to go this year on New Years day.
You file in line with a lot of old people and a lot of foreigners. Wait for about 20 minutes. Then the Emperor himself comes outside and gives a speech. Much of the royal family is there with him. Everyone waves their flags. Then you leave. This process is repeated all day long.
Sure sounds boring... is it boring? Well, kinda. You get a free paper flag, so thats a bonus. Most Japanese don't seem to really care about the Emperor. Unlike England's royal family, the Japanese royal family is relatively out of the news. Their symbol as one representing Japan is a thing of the past. Every so often you hear a discussion on the news about whether or not a girl could take the throne. But every time, the politicians just say, "Let's talk about this at a later date, when we don't have better things to do."
But it's still interesting. There are those who still want to restore the Emperor to power, and reclaim Japan's glorious past. They promote this by driving around in black vans blazing propaganda out of loudspeakers, or riding motorcycles with the mufflers cut off and revving the engines at max throttle. I don't think the emperor will be back in power anytime soon.
There are quite a few museums in this area. I wrote about them in a recent post, but the three that are closest are the National Museum of Modern Art, Craft Gallery, and Science Museum. All are great museums worth a visit. Other than that, the area is kinda quite.
On a random note... my new bicycle just got impounded. Hooray! Turns out the impound lot was two blocks from my guesthouse. Hooray! I had to pay 3000 yen to get it back. Hooray!