Asakusa - The Birthplace of Soy Sauce Ramen



2021.12.02 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

Do you like ramen? You can find ramen in places outside of Japan, like the US, so it is no exaggeration to say that ramen is now one of the most famous Japanese foods. Did you know that soy sauce ramen is said to have originated in Asakusa?

The history of ramen in Japan dates back to the 15th century. At the time, some people ate a dish called "keitai-men", which was derived from Chinese noodles, and was made using a recipe that is almost identical to the ramen noodles of today. In the 19th century, when Japan, which had been closed off from the rest of the world, resumed exchanges with foreign countries, Chinese noodle dishes began to spread as foreign cuisines flowed into the country. At first, Chinese food was a luxury food that was unavailable to commoners, but as time went on and with increasing numbers of students from China came to Japan, the number of Chinese restaurants for the masses increased. Rai Rai Ken, which opened in Asakusa in 1910, was the first ramen restaurant to open in Japan, and triggered a ramen boom with its soy sauce ramen. At Rai Rai Ken, you can enjoy soy sauce ramen, wonton noodles, shumai, etc. The restaurant was so prosperous that it sometimes served as many as 3,000 bowls in one day.

Rai Rai Ken closed during World War II, but many restaurants in Asakusa serve delicious soy sauce ramen like Rai Rai Ken remain today. For example, at Yoroiya, you can enjoy soy sauce ramen made with the utmost care by the owner, who was born and raised in Asakusa, and grew up with Asakusa's soy sauce ramen. I encourage you to take the opportunity to try soy sauce ramen next time you go to Asakusa!

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