Japan 2020

I’ve been to Japan in 2006, but due to circumstances I didn’t have a nice time there (you can’t get a refund over a relationship’s break up). So, it has been my dream to go back there again and do it the proper way this time.

Japan

The plan for now stands: a few days in Tokyo, travel to Osaka with the shinkansen (bullet train) and then spend the last leg of the trip in Tokyo again. From Osaka we will do day trips to Hiroshima and Kyoto.

Hiroshima is a must for me and my boyfriend as we want to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I am a great admirer of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the man who survived both atomic bombs, and the work he has done to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

There is going to be a lot of firsts for me this trip. First time on the shinkansen, first time to Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto. The last trip I spent two weeks in Tokyo, then I missed a lot of stuff because the place is huge. That’s why we’ve made a list of what we’d really want to see this time . Hopefully we won’t overload ourselves by trying to fit everything in those two weeks.

The countdown has started and I can’t wait for it to be the day that we depart for our Japanese adventure.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! – Ep.1 The Greatest World!

After being on anime hiatus for a couple of years, I am slowly getting back in to the flow of watching it again. I got myself a Crunchyroll subscription and started binge watching series again. And sometimes you find something new like Keep Your hands Off Eizouken which was released on the 5th of January. So that’s fresh off the boat.

In 2016 the manga was released by Sumito Ōwara and finally came to life as an anime in 2020. A live-action adaption will be released in the third quarter of 2020 in Japan. The story follows three high school girls as they pursue their dream to create their own anime.

One of the main girls of the series is Midori Asakusa who has been hooked on anime since a very young age and is intrigued with how it’s made. Upon entering high school her love for anime has turned into an obsession in creating concept art and turning her school into a stage for her anime. She is hesitant to join the school’s anime club as she is bad with dealing with crowds, but her friend Sayaka Kanamori convinces her to go to the screening.

At the screening they encounter a girl who is being chased by Men In Black. She takes Asakusa’s hat as a disguise, but her pursuers see through it and give chase. Kanamori recognises the girl as the famous model Tsubame Mizusaki and the two girls see it as their duty to save the damsel in distress.
Mizusaki is eventually cornered by one of the Men In Black, men who have been hired by her parents to keep her from joining the anime club. Asakusa uses the stage trap door to detain the MIB and the three girls make their escape.

Mizusaki and Asakusa find out that they share the same passion of creating an anime, with Mizusaki designing the characters and Asakusa giving them a background. Kanamori is interested as she smells the money they can make of it. Together they will create their adventure.

I was scrolling through the new releases on Crunchyroll when this anime caught my eye. The opening theme has a catchy weird tune that I like and the style of drawing is refreshing. I completely get Asakusa & Mizusaki’s way of fan-girling over anime and both characters are very passionate about their dreams. Always good to follow your dreams. And then you have Kanamori in contrast, she is totally not interested in the visual concept of anime, only in the monetary value of it. She’s almost like a producer that sees the monatary value of a good serialisation.
An interesting premise was build for the first episode and I have to admit I am hooked for more. Sadly that means I have to wait another week for a new release 😉

My obsession with ramen

One of my lifetime dreams was going to Japan and it finally became a reality in 2006 when I spent two weeks in a ryokan (family hotel or inn) in Tokyo. And there I tasted the best Japanese fast food ever, ramen.
I call it fast food, because it is not very expensive and served fast. While some toppings can be fried, in my opinion is healthier than a meal at McDonald’s or Burger King. With that said, I am not a dietician and I know noodles have a high calorie value but anyway.

There are two main ingredients for ramen: noodles and broth. A good broth complemented with the right toppings makes a heavenly dish. So I was devastated upon returning home that I couldn’t get my need for feed anymore. So sad.
I did have my Indonesian equivalent in Soto Ayam (Indonesian chicken soup) which is also delish, but I kept longing for a good bowl of Ramen.

In 2013 I moved to Belfast for work and close to my office in the city center there was Wagamama, a place I could indulge myself with ramen again. Wagamama ramen was my favorite at that place but I still missed the broth I tasted in Japan. So my search for great European ramen places started.

When I moved back to the Netherlands in 2016 the ramen popularity had hit my country. Of course Amsterdam was a forerunner when it comes to foreign food but I don’t often go there.
Sadly my home town’s idea to foreign food is morphed Chinese to suit the Dutch taste. I loathe it.

Slowly and surely small ramen shops are popping up here and there, even not that far away from me in Eindhoven. Broth made with care and recipes handed down in the family. I even drove my boyfriend nuts with the stories of the yummiest of dishes I had in my life.

In my quest on finding great ramen close by I’ve had the joy to find some true gems in the Netherlands.

Hinoki Noodle Soup, Rotterdam. They change their menu to the seasons and I had the Black Special Tonkotsu. The smell and taste of garlic overloaded the senses and it was a really kicker broth. I kept tasting it later on the day whenever I burped. My advise when eating ramen, get a light drink like green tea or iced tea without sugar so the flavour of the broth stays with you longer.

Black Special Tonkotsu
Black Special Tonkotsu

When me and my boyfriend visited the Cool Japan expo in Amsterdam it was only fitting to eat ramen for lunch. When in Amsterdam I am always worried when trying to find little gems like Fou Fow Ramen that it will be packed. Lucky for us this shop was not smack in the city centre so it was moderately busy.
We had the classic Tonkotsu which has a rich pork flavour and some Karage (fried chicken) with wasabi-mayo and I think my boyfriend also fell in love with ramen at that point. I did take him to Wagamama before but he enjoyed this broth a lot

Tonkotsu
Tonkotsu

My last trip to delicious heaven was last week in Eindhoven. I had passed Xu Noodle Bar a couple of times but hadn’t walked in yet. I’ve been studying to get my degree as Financial Assistant and had my final exams that day. After passing with a whopping 9.0 I treated myself to some victory ramen. Again I went for the classic Tonkotsu and the broth was soft and sweet. The pork was really tender and melted like butter in your mouth. In the Netherlands we have the saying: “It was like an angel pissing on your tongue”. Them Dutch and their weird sayings. I was one happy bunny after this fantastic lunch. And I need hthat “Send Noods” hoodie.

Classic Pork Soup
Classic Pork Soup

Great news for my vegan friends. All the above shops I’ve visited have vegan options for ramen so everyone can enjoy.