In 1697, Mito Mitsukuni was the first person to eat Ramen in Japan.
Ramen is a noodle dish that is inspired from a Chinese noodle dish. Ramen spread to Japan when the port opened for training in end of Meiji era (1868-1912). A China town was made in Kobe and Yokohama (the main ports). The ramen were called chuka-soba, (which means Chinese soba).
(Photo from pinterest)
First Ramen shop opened in Tokyo. The restaurant owner invited 12 Chinese chefs from the Yokohama China town to work in his new restaurant.
Ramen is slightly different to other noodles. Ramen noodles are mixed with Kansui (alkalinized water). Kansui makes wheat noodles softer. Only last year, it was discovered in an old Japanese book that noodles made with kansui and wheat called Keitai-men was served in 1488, which could possibly be the first ramen style noodle ever served in Japan.
During the early stages of ramen arriving in Japan, it wasn’t so popular with the locals. The Japanese found the soup slightly too oily. During its evolution in Japan, ramen changed greatly from its Chinese counterpart to appeal to the taste of the Japanese. Toppings were changed to chashu pork, bamboo shoots, nori and eggs. Also the soup flavours slightly differed to include soy sauce flavour, which wasn’t as oily as the Chinese soups.
After the war, ramen was eaten a lot as it was cheap to make but it also has a good nutritional value. Ramen was a popular street food as mobile carts would travel around the streets serving the food up to the 1950s.
The first instant noodle in the world: Nisshin Chicken Ramen was made in 1953, and it spread to all over.
Many restaurants started to make variety of soups such as seafood and miso. This resulted in almost all prefectures of Japan having their own unique style of ramen.
Today, ramen is served as a fast food and is never on the menu at high class restaurants. The image of ramen is a food that men eat quickly, so women get angry if they are taken on a date to a ramen restaurant.
Ramen is loved by Japanese people and today there are 32000 ramen restaurants in Japan, also many ramen museums are built.