Latest update [May 2016]: Kyoto Gion Udon Museum has ceased operations as of 2015. If you are interested in visiting other Japanese noodle museums, please check out the links at the end of article.
In August 2012 the U-1 Grand Prix aiming to determine Japan’s best udon noodles was held in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. Udon dishes from all over the country were displayed during that event, but do you know that the organizers are the general incorporated foundation “Udon Museum” located in Kyoto’s Gion? I will now introduce Kyoto Gion Udon Museum where all of the country’s udon noodles gather together!
The building is a remodeled Kyoto townhouse
There is a building which attracts the attention of tourists in Kyoto’s Gion district. That is Kyoto Gion Udon Museum, opened in December 2012. The entrance is small, but inside it is a typical Kyoto townhouse in the “unagi no nedokoro” style (long and narrow house).
Actually, the original idea was to open this museum at a different location. Initially, there was a plan to combine 12 restaurants into one museum, similarly to Kanagawa prefecture’s Yokohama Ramen Museum, but changes occurred in the plan and eventually the restaurants couldn’t gather, so the museum was opened in its current building.
You can see udon noodles from all over the country!
Enter inside and you will see a map of udon noodles from all over Japan! You will be surprised to discover how many types of udon there are. Everyone knows the famous sanuki udon from Kagawa prefecture, but there are many others that you have never seen before! You can spend quite some time reading the panel on the wall displaying al the local udon noodles. Not all the prefectures are included in the exhibition, but you can try and find your local one. My prefecture Nara is represented by “kinchaku kitsune udon”. It is a rare type in which udon noodles are put in a pouch of fried and seasoned tofu. There is a place to buy souvenirs, so you can purchase udon noodles from all over the country.
Let's eat udon from all over the country at Gion!
There is a dining room inside the museum. Because the building is a remodeled Kyoto townhouse, the kitchen has a typical Japanese interior. The menu consists of udon noodles from all over Japan. All the noodles and ingredients come directly from the local regions.
There are over 30 types of udon noodles to choose from in the menu, so the choice can be really hard… You would want to eat various different types! For such people there is the 1000 JPY “noodle comparison” set. You will get 2 small size bowls of different local udon to eat and compare. For 1500 JPY you can get a set with three bowls.
The most popular udon in the museum now is Tochigi prefecture’s “mimi udon”, a traditional dish eaten during New Year in Sano city’s Senbamachi town. The udon is shaped like an ear, which symbolizes the ears of the evil spirits. Thus when you eat it, the evil spirits will not hear about your household and nothing bad will happen to you and your family in the upcoming year. It looks like Chinese dumplings, but it’s in fact udon noodles! Goes well with Japanese fish broth.
The winner of U-1 Grand Prix! Himokawa udon
“Himokawa udon” won the first prize in the U-1 Grand Prix and was the second most sold. It is the local delicacy of Gunma prefecture’s Kiryu region. The one that you can eat at the Udon Museum is 10-centimeter wide! In Gunma the size varies between 1.5 to 10 centimeters according to the restaurant.
You eat it by dipping it into Japanese broth, but its flat cloth-like appearance makes you feel you’re eating something unique. This udon is very delicious with a cold soup!
Latest update [May 2016]
Kyoto Gion Udon Museum has ceased operations as of 2015. If you are interested in visiting other Japanese noodle museums, please click on following links:
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