Aug 17, 2018
Celebrating its 10th anniversary the Tokyo Ramen Show 2018 (東京ラーメンショー) perhaps can’t compete with similar namesakes like the Tokyo Game Show and the Tokyo Motor Show in terms of glamour, sex, and feverish anticipation, but it can, and does, claim to be the largest ramen show in Japan. And if you should know anything about ramen in Japan, it’s that it is inexplicably loved by the Japanese.
“Inexplicably” because for a dish that to the layman looks like noodles in soup (and too much of it), often served in greasy, sweaty joints that have all sophistication of, well, ramen to the layman, a whole industry of books, competitions, awards, rankings, and festivals has been spawned in Japan. And at the top of all this clamor, The Tokyo Ramen Show.
Organizers of the show, the Tokyo Ramen Show Executive Committee, bring to visiting slurpers an event through which they hope to develop tourism, food education, and the spreading of food culture.
Held in the spacious grounds of the Komazawa Olympic Park (which occupies a large chuck of pleasant parts of Meguro-ku and Setagaya-ku) the Tokyo Ramen Show brings together regional ramen favorites from around Japan, and even some from overseas (which usually have the shortest queues).
The event layout is, typically, brutally simple -- two rows of stalls covering dozens of ramen dishes (36 for Tokyo Ramen Show 2018) with tables, chairs and some of the most disgusting garbage dregs you’ve ever seen. There’s a small stage at the head of it all on which, in past years, the requisite themed-girl groups perform to some alarmingly feverish 30-somethings men.
Performances aside, as much as the festival layout is straightforward, so too is the way in which it pans out. People turn up, look at the menu, and then form orderly queues for the ramen of their choice. Make no mistake, at the Tokyo Ramen Show (and pretty much any food-based festival in Japan) you’ll spend most of your time waiting in line.
The show takes places over two sessions (of a few days each) with each session featuring a different set of vendors. It’s free to enter (although there is little to see) and bowls of ramen are purchased using prepaid coupons which visitors buy from a “coupon tent” somewhere near the festival entrance. Coupons at the Tokyo Ramen Show are 850 yen each (equating to one bowl). (Bank on trying out at least two dishes to get something out of the show -- the bowls are small.)
2018 will be the 10th anniversary edition of the Tokyo Ramen Show for which there seems to be a reflective mood, with a vote cast to determine which of the 333 kinds of ramen featured over the previous nine editions of the event with be served up at this year’s show.
Organizers, the Tokyo Ramen Show Executive Committee, have announced for this year a “guide book” containing information about the dishes to have appeared over the years. What this actually means is a PDF for each of the past years’ ramen show menus (available on the show’s homepage). Paper copies of the menu are handed out at the event.
Whatever you might think of the show itself, the Komazawa Olympic Park setting is a nice one. This is a park with plenty to explore, plenty of space, attractions for the kids, and it has a sporty vibe. The perfect place then to burn off those excess ramen calories.
Tokyo Ramen Show 2018
|When: 1st session||Oct. 25 - Oct. 30, 2018|
|When: 2nd session||Oct. 31 - Nov. 4, 2018|
10:00 - 21:00 (
Oct. 30 & Nov. 4 until 18:00)
Komazawa Olympic Park,
Meguro / Setagaya, Tokyo
|Entrance||Free (one bowl of ramen 850 yen)|
Note* The nearest station is Komazawa-daigaku Station (Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line). It’s about half a kilometer or so to the event site. Just follow the crowds.
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