Experience Japanese Food Culture: How to Enjoy Ramen



Japanese food culture is highly regarded throughout the world, with ramen being one of the most popular. This article provides an in-depth look at how to enjoy ramen. Ramen is a must-try for visitors to Japan, who will be surprised by its diversity and depth.

Ramen is a uniquely Japanese version of a noodle dish introduced from China, with different styles and flavours in different regions. Tokyo’s shoyu ramen, Sapporo’s miso ramen and Hakata’s tonkotsu ramen each have their own unique characteristics. All of these ramen dishes are made with fresh ingredients and carefully prepared, and are exceptionally tasty.

The appeal of ramen lies in the wide variety of variations it offers. An infinite number of combinations of soup bases, toppings and noodle types are possible. Travellers have the pleasure of finding the ramen to their liking. Many ramen shops also offer unique recipes and inventive dishes, each bowl of which is the fruit of the passion and skill of the artisan.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of what travellers should know about ramen, including the different types of ramen, how to enjoy it and recommended ramen restaurants. Through ramen, you can gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s food culture and enjoy it to the fullest.


The history of ramen is deeply rooted in Japanese food culture. Its origins can be traced back to “Chinese soba”, which came from China, but evolved in a uniquely Japanese way. From the late Meiji to Taisho periods, ramen spread throughout Japan. In particular, Yokohama’s Chinatown is considered to be its birthplace.

After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, a street stall culture developed and ramen became popular as an easy street food. It was during this period that soy-sauce-based soups became mainstream, laying the foundations for today’s Tokyo ramen. After World War II, ramen became even more diverse, with many regions developing their own unique styles.

In 1958, Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods invented instant ramen, making ramen a food that could be easily enjoyed at home. This accelerated the spread of ramen and established it as a national food.

Today, ramen is enjoyed all over Japan, and many regions have their own distinctive ramen. For example, Sapporo’s miso ramen, Hakata’s tonkotsu ramen and Fukushima’s Kitakata ramen are all unique products that utilise regional ingredients and cooking methods.

Because of its diversity and depth, ramen has become one of the most representative dishes of Japanese food culture. Travellers can also experience the history and culture of Japan through ramen. Experience the richness of Japan’s food culture along with the development of ramen.


There are many types of ramen, each with its own unique flavour and appeal. The variations of ramen that can be enjoyed throughout Japan offer a diverse range of styles that make the most of regional characteristics and ingredients.

Soya sauce ramen

Shoyu ramen is one of the most common types of ramen in Japan. The clear brown soup is made from a soy sauce-based sauce, and the broth is made from chicken bones, pork bones and seafood. Tokyo ramen restaurants represent this style of ramen, with a well-balanced flavour. The soup is refreshing, yet deep and rich.

Miso ramen

Miso ramen originated in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The thick miso-based soup is combined with soup stock made from pork bones and chicken bones, and is popular as a warming drink even in cold climates. Especially in winter, toppings such as butter, corn and bean sprouts are added to give it a rich flavour and texture.

Salt ramen

Shio ramen is characterised by its clear, transparent soup. The simple salt-based soup is made from chicken bones, pork bones and seafood to bring out the flavour of the ingredients. Hakodate in Hokkaido is known as the birthplace of salt ramen and is characterised by its light flavour. The simple yet profound flavour is the charm of this ramen.

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen is a thick ramen originating in Hakata, Kyushu. The cloudy soup, made by simmering pork bones for a long time, is creamy and rich. Hakata ramen is characterised by its thin noodles, and there is a culture of enjoying baedama (extra noodles). The thick broth and simple toppings are a perfect match.

Other unique ramen

There are many other unique types of ramen throughout Japan. For example, Kitakata ramen from Fukushima Prefecture features thick noodles and a soy sauce-based soup with a long-established flavour. Wakayama ramen is another local favourite, featuring a mixed soup of soy sauce and pork bone.

By trying these diverse types of ramen, you can experience the richness and depth of Japanese food culture. During your trip, be sure to taste regional ramen and enjoy the differences and attractions of each region.

Manners and how to eat

When enjoying ramen, knowing the etiquette and proper way to eat ramen, which is unique to Japan, will help you appreciate the experience even more deeply. Here are some basic manners and ways to eat ramen.

Correct way to eat.

  1. How to use chopsticks and a bamboo ladle
    When eating ramen, use chopsticks and a bamboo ladle skillfully. First, lift the noodles with the chopsticks and shake gently to cool them slightly. Next, it is common to slurp the noodles as you eat them. Slurping allows the flavours of the noodles and soup to be enjoyed together. The lengua is also used for drinking the soup and eating the ingredients.

2.Slurping and eating.
In Japan, it is considered good manners to make noise while slurping noodles. This is a way to better perceive the aroma of the noodles and is one way of expressing their taste. You may feel uncomfortable eating noisily, but it is a common manner of eating in Japan.

  1. How to eat the ingredients.
    Ingredients are generally eaten with noodles. Use chopsticks or a bamboo stick to balance the ingredients such as chashu pork, spring onions and bamboo shoots to enjoy the flavour of the ramen as a whole. In particular, the flavour of the ingredients soaked in the broth is enhanced, making it tastier all the way through.

Mealtime etiquette and manners.

1.Eat quietly.
In ramen restaurants, it is important to eat quietly and with consideration for the customers around you. When conversing, try to speak in a low voice. It is also good manners to refrain from using mobile phones and concentrate on your meal.

2.Thank the waiter.
When you have finished your meal, it is common practice to thank the waiter with a “Gochisoso sama desu” (Thank you for the food). This phrase builds a good relationship with the waiter and shows your appreciation.

3.Do not leave any leftovers.
Each bowl of ramen is carefully prepared. It is good manners not to leave any leftovers and to finish the ramen to the last. Even if it is difficult to finish the soup, try not to leave as much as possible.

By observing these manners and ways of eating, you can enjoy Japanese ramen culture in a more respectful way. Experience the depth of Japanese food culture through ramen and have a wonderful dining experience.

Recommended restaurants

There are numerous ramen shops throughout Japan, each offering its own unique charm and flavour. Here we introduce some recommended ramen shops that we highly recommend to visitors to Japan.

Recommended restaurants in Tokyo.

Ichiran is a popular restaurant where you can enjoy ramen at your own pace in private room-style counter seats. The pork bone-based soup and the system where you can choose toppings and soup thickness made to order are particularly attractive. It is also well received by many foreign tourists.

Tsukemen Michi*.
Tsukemen Michi is famous for serving tsukemen noodles in a thick seafood and pork bone broth. Tsukemen is a style of noodle soup where the boiled noodles are cooled in cold water and dipped in a separate broth, especially recommended during the hot season.

Recommended restaurants in Sapporo.

Sumire in Sapporo is a famous miso ramen restaurant. It is characterised by its thick miso soup and firm, medium-thick noodles, making it a particularly warming dish during the cold season. It continues to be loved by locals.

Shirakaba Sansou.
Shirakaba Sansou is a popular restaurant serving mainly miso ramen with a wide variety of toppings. The corn butter ramen in particular is characterised by its creamy, rich flavour.

Recommended restaurants in Hakata.

Ikkousha is a famous Hakata tonkotsu ramen restaurant. It is characterised by its thick, cloudy soup and ultra-thin noodles, and you can enjoy a doubedama (extra noodle). The creamy, rich soup is very popular.

Hakata Ippudo.
Ippudo is a famous restaurant that popularised Hakata tonkotsu ramen throughout Japan. Ippudo is also popular with international travellers for its sophisticated shop design and creamy tonkotsu soup.

Recommended restaurants in Osaka.

Ramen Jinsei JET*.
Ramen Jinsei JET is a popular ramen restaurant in Osaka. It is particularly well known for its thick chicken white soup, which has an unforgettable taste once you try it. The combination of the creamy soup and medium-thick noodles is exquisite and favoured by many ramen lovers.

Kamukura is a ramen restaurant originating from Osaka, characterised by its unique soup. The soup, which is rich in vegetables, is light yet deeply flavoured, and is popular with health-conscious diners. It is especially popular as ‘delicious ramen’ and is characterised by its refreshing taste.

Other recommended restaurants.

Kitakata Ramen Bannai.
Kitakata Ramen Bannai, which originated in Kitakata City, Fukushima Prefecture, is characterised by its soy sauce-based soup and thick, limp noodles. It has a simple but deep flavour.

Tenkaippin, which originated in Kyoto, is characterised by its extremely thick and creamy chicken white soup. The thick soup has a reputation for being addictive once you try it.

Each of these ramen shops has its own unique charm and is well-loved throughout Japan. During your trip, be sure to visit these restaurants and enjoy the variety of ramen flavours. You will experience the richness of Japan’s ramen culture.

Regional specialities

In every region of Japan, there are ramen dishes that make use of specialities unique to that region. These ramen reflect the local food culture and local ingredients, allowing you to enjoy the unique flavours of the region.

Specialities of Tokyo.

Tokyo soy sauce ramen.
Tokyo’s shoyu ramen is characterised by its clear, brown soup. It is made from chicken bones, pork bones and seafood broth, with a soy sauce-based sauce. It has a light but deep flavour and is popular with many people. You can enjoy the traditional Edo-mae taste at ramen restaurants in Tokyo.

Sapporo specialities.

Miso ramen in Sapporo.
Sapporo in Hokkaido is known as the birthplace of miso ramen. The thick miso-based soup is often topped with butter, corn, bean sprouts and other toppings, making it a warming dish, especially during the cold season. The aroma of miso and the thick broth provide the perfect flavour for Sapporo’s cold climate.

Hakata specialities.

Hakata’s pork bone ramen.
Hakata in Kyushu is the home of tonkotsu ramen. The cloudy white soup, made by simmering pork bones for a long time, is characterised by its creamy, rich flavour. It goes well with extra-fine noodles, and there is a culture of enjoying baedama (extra noodles). Hakata ramen attracts visitors with its deep, rich and smooth broth.

Specialities of Kitakata.

Kitakata ramen.
Kitakata ramen in Kitakata City, Fukushima Prefecture, is characterised by thick, limp noodles and a light soy sauce-based soup. Many ramen shops are open in the morning and are popular with locals as morning ramen. It is a simple yet deeply flavoured bowl of noodles.

Specialties of Wakayama

Wakayama ramen.
Wakayama ramen is characterised by its soup, which is a mix of soy sauce and pork bone. It is loved by locals for its rich, yet strong soy sauce flavour. Wakayama ramen is favoured by many ramen fans for its unique flavour.

Ramen that makes use of specialities from different regions of Japan reflects the local culinary culture and is a treat for travellers. When visiting different regions, be sure to try the local speciality ramen and experience the diverse food culture of Japan.


What you can gain through your experience at a restaurant

The experience at a ramen restaurant is something special and goes beyond a simple meal. A bowl of ramen made with fresh ingredients and prepared with care by skilled artisans will give you a taste of the depth of Japanese food culture. The atmosphere in the restaurant and the interaction with the artisans are also a unique experience at a ramen restaurant. Especially at popular restaurants, queuing in line is an experience to be enjoyed, and the longer you wait, the more delicious your ramen will be.

A step towards a deeper understanding of Japanese food culture

Through ramen, you can take a step towards a deeper understanding of Japanese food culture. Ramen, which makes use of the specialities of each region, reflects the local climate, history and ingredients. By trying different types of ramen, such as soy sauce ramen, miso ramen and pork ramen, you can get a taste of Japan’s diverse food culture. Learning how to eat ramen and its etiquette will also help you to appreciate it even more.

During your visit to Japan, you are encouraged to visit a ramen restaurant and experience the taste and culture of ramen. The memories you will make through ramen will surely enrich your trip.