Today’s one-day trip (日帰り旅行, higaeri ryokou) was to Ogaki, a little city in Gifu prefecture about a 30-minute train ride from Nagoya station. I went to see the little tiny Ogaki castle. Not much to say, except that it was only 100 yen to get in, and it did again pique interest in Japanese history. People have been living here comparatively forever. This castle was originally built in the 1500’s (although rebuilt in 1945 after it was burned down in an air raid), and yet that is practically yesterday compared to other places. The weather was really nice (a little too much sunshine, though ;P), and it seems that spring is already here. So we got about three months until the sauna hits.
Hyperbole is probably my favorite thing in the whole world, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that the smartest thing I ever did was archive “The Ramen Ninja” website, which now seems to be down in real life. So I just went to my local version and happened on his review of ”Ippodo”, a Hakata-style tonkotsu place by Shirakawa-koen. Absolutely incredible. This style ramen is certainly a favorite of mine, and it may seem lazy to say, but I have to say that this is the greatest Fukuoka-style ramen that I’ve ever had. The soup had more ingredients in it than I can imagine, even the colors were innumerable. The place has a very hip atmosphere, with tables (and even counters) made from tree trunks, unusually-shaped chairs, and a really nice mix of music. When I was there, I think they played some 70’s album rock, J-pop, and a never-before heard Frank Sinatra track. Another cool thing is they have a bunch of jars of otsumami which you can either dump into your bowl of ramen or put a bit in plates provided just for the purpose to munch on while you wait (which was not very long). But it’s not just your usual otsumami. Besides the typical shouga (pickled ginger), they also had whole cloves of fresh garlic and a garlic press, and moyashi (bean sprouts) with hot peppers, and something else. Cool-shaped bowls and a totally genki staff completed the experience. I learned a new word this week, 有頂天 (uchouten, ecstasy), and I already had a chance to use it.