Kanagawa Prefecture’s “Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum”, or simply Rahaku, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014. You there, thinking: “It’s just a place where all the famous stores have gathered, right?” Of course Rahaku is about ramen, but did you know it has much more to offer? There is the irresistably nostalgic retro Showa interior, an old-school candy shop, the world"s only “My Ramen”, and many more things to enjoy.
What kind of place is Rahaku?
I will start off with showing you around the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. The concept of Rahaku’s “being able to taste ramen from all over Japan, without having to board a plane” was conceived in 1994. Currently, 8 domestic shops, such as the famous shop known throughout Hokkaido “Sumire”, Minoru Sano’s (known as the Ramen Demon) “Shinasobaya”, and one from overseas are open for business. Shops are switched periodically. Along with “Ramen” being acknowledged around the globe in recent years, and since it has become a place that many tourists from abroad visit too, its global appeal improved with special menus being provided for Muslims, vegetarians, and others.
Single-day admission to The Ramen Museum is 310 JPN for junior high school students and older, and 100 JPN for primary school students and seniors (60+). 3-month and year passes among others are also available. Please decide on which ticket to purchase depending on your future plans. Pass through the gate and be prepared for a surprise when descending underground! A full-blown retro Showa interior with an unimaginable image from the outside. This interior design reproduces Japan’s townscape from 1958 (33rd year of Showa). When I say 1958, think of the year the world’s first instant ramen “Chicken Ramen” was sold. let’s stroll around in a townscape replicated to the very last detail, hopping from one ramen shop to the other.
In business since Rahaku’s founding. Pioneer Kumamoto Ramen "Komurasaki"
As I told you about Rahaku’s ramen shops before, there are currently 9 shops in business. “Since I came all the way out here to Rahaku, I want to eat lots of ramen!” Keeping in mind the visitors" wishes, each shop has a ramen 3/5 the size of a regular portion, called the “Mini Ramen”. Visitors thinking of hopping from one shop to the other, please try out the Mini Ramen. (There is a rule at each shop that for junior high school students and older, sharing one portion is not allowed.)
Among all of Rahaku’s ramen shops, the only one in business since its founding, is this one:
Kumamoto Ramen “Komurasaki”
It is known for the black grains as shown in the photo. These are chips of garlic. “Komurasaki” is known for that first ramen shop to have chips of garlic in to ramen. It is a tonkotsu ramen, but doesn’t have the characteristic smell, and although you have to make space for the next ramen, You’ll end up sipping the soup many times over… The chips of garlic taste delicious! (Photo shows the Mini Ramen.)
Aiming for the revival of "Kamome Shokudo" in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture
Next up is “Kamome Shokudo”.
Kamome Shokudo is a diner of long standing that opened business in 1942 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. It wasn’t a famous shop, but apparently a thriving diner among the townspeople. Since there wasn’t a successor though, it had to close in 1943. Afterwards, all traces of its existence were wiped away together with the tsunami of the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011. The current Kamome Shokudo’s owner comes from Kesennuma and is the representative of “Chibakiya” in Katsushika, Tokyo. When serving hot meals to evacuees as a volunteer after the earthquake, the owner thought that there was a need for a symbol of the reconstruction and was determined to revive “Kamome Shokudo”. Reconstruction in Kesennuma hadn’t progressed enough to be able to open a shop there though. At the time, he received the proposal from Rahaku’s curator to open it there, and so Rahaku’s Kamome Shokudo came to be. Together with Kamome Shokudo becoming a symbol for the reconstruction, they aimed at creating jobs for Kesennuma’s inhabitants. The owner put his effort to train Kesennuma’s inhabitants enough until there are able to open new ramen restaurant again in Kesennuma.
Kamome Shokudo’s menu board says “Kesennuma Ramen Sea Flavor”.
The curly noodles catch the thick soup in one gulp. With this ramen, you will also end up drinking too much of the soup. (Photo shows the Mini Ramen.)
Return of the classic candy shop "Yuyake Shoten"
There are various other things besides ramen. I would like to introduce an interesting place now.
When you advance deeper into the underground retro Showa town with places like the “Shinasobaya”, You’ll arrive at a place crowded with people. This place is called “Yuyake Shoten”. Nostalgic candies that everyone has bought at least once when they were little, is overflowing in the replication of a candy shop from the Showa era. Not only candy, but lottery tickets, spinning tops, ohajiki, and much more will delight adults and children alike. Outside the shop, the classic “Agepan” (fried bread) is also sold in mini size. Without a doubt, looking forward to having agepan in your school lunch is sure to recall the memories from those days.
Aside from Yuyake Shoten on the first floor underground, there is also a teahouse & snack bar called “Kateko”, and on the second floor underground are a lot of enjoyable places like “Tsurukame Park”, where a picture story show can suddenly start, or street performances. When passing through, be sure to check them out.
1st floor is museum shop
Finally, it would be a shame to leave without a souvenir, right? Rahaku’s entrance and exit serves as a museum shop, where you can learn about ramen’s history, find introduction panels to local ramen, or go to the study corner like any other museum. At the souvenir shop, the ramen from both current and past shops is portioned in one-meal and is sold in a take-out form, too. Ramen bowls are also for sell, and even Zundo (cylindrical pot ) to use for boiling ramen noodles! What would you expect from Rahaku. Everything related to ramen is for sell.
Enjoy the “My Ramen Kitchen”. Flavor, noodles, soup, oil, ingredients are all sold seperately, and you can purchase them as single-unit. Among these, the “My Ramen Set” in which you can put your own photograph on the ingredients, is the most popular. Including taking your picture, it takes no more than 15 minutes to make your own original ramen. How about a memento of visiting?
Beware of unexpected crowded days
I hope you know now that Rahaku is not only about ramen, but that it has many other things to enjoy.
For people who want to visit the museum, please confirm beforehand the two following points. Firstly, it is a 5 minutes" walk from “Shin-Yokohama Station” where the Shikansen stops. At this place, you may encounter unexpected large queues. This occurs on days there is a concert or soccer match at Nissan Stadium, or Yokohama Arena. On weekdays there usually aren’t so many queues, but on those days, every ramen shop has many people lining up. Before going, it is best to check if there aren’t any events going on in the neighborhood. Please consult the website to see what the waiting times are for musuem admission or for each ramen shop. As for opening hours, business hours differ from day to day, it is advised to check these before heading to the museum. It takes approx. 10 minutes by train from Yokohama Station to Shin-Yokohama Station. When going sightseeing in Yokohama, please head on over to Shin-Yokohama as well.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
Create an account to bookmark our articles, like local expert tips, receive great stories in your inbox, and follow writers and topics that you love.Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log in with Google ×