The 15 Best Things I Ate in Japan

A bowl of shoyu ramen from Nagi Ramen in Tokyo [Photographs: Brian Oh]

Japan is a country with an incredibly rich history and diverse culture, but I have to admit, the majority of my recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun was planned mostly around food. Over the span of 10 days, I visited Tokyo, a pair of rural villages in the Kiso Valley, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. I had the opportunity to sample different kinds of ramen, yakitori, soba, and even a hotdog at an upscale cocktail bar in Ginza. Speaking of ramen...

The final stop on my trip was Fukuoka, which is famous for originating the Hakata style of ramen. The region's tonkotsu (pork bone) broth is rich, milky, and pungent. It's traditionally paired with thin, straight noodles and often served with crushed garlic and sesame seeds. It's become one of the most popular styles in Japan and is home to one international ramen chain you're sure to recognize: Ippudo. There are several locations in Fukuoka, but the original is a tiny space tucked into a small side street in the Daimyo neighborhood.

I'd be lying if I said visiting the original Ippudo wasn't one of my main reasons for taking the six-hour train ride out from Tokyo.


A bowl of Akamaru Tonkotsu Ramen from the original Ippudo in Fukuoka

All told, I had 10 bowls of ramen by the end of the trip (including one that was set on FIRE) and a slew of other great meals. I'd say I was sick of ramen by the end, but the truth is I'd slurp up another bowl of tonkotsu ramen right now if it were offered to me.

Check out the slideshow to see all 15 delicious bites in Japan >>