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Journals from Rikkyo, Japan

2009-07-05 The Sound of Noodles

The first time I came to Japan 3 years ago was also my first encounter with the infamous sound of noodle slurps that I had heard so much about. I was told that in Japanese culture, slurping noodle dishes is a sign of a good appetite and unlike the United States it is very normal or in fact polite to do so. Three years ago, while in mid-air, before I had even arrived in Japan, the flight attendants began serving the standard meal, which happened to be zarusoba. Zarusoba is simply cold buckwheat noodles that you dip in a sauce before eating. I thought nothing special of the meal, but was just happy it wasnt some mundane United Airlines snack-sandwich or micro waved TV-like dinner. Then it hit, a wave of noise that seemed to shake the whole plane. It was about 300 Japanese people, or however many are on one of those JAL Airlines planes, all slurping up their noodles for what seemed to be 15 minutes straight. I thought it fascinating and strange at first, but after a few minutes, feeling somewhat like a kid on a field trip who got left behind, I decided to catch up and joined in on the slurp-fest. Now days I enjoy slurping my noodles and honestly feel awkward not doing so; and boy do I love Ramen! Near school and all around Ikebukuro, Ramen shops are abundant, my favorites being (Mutekiya) on the East side and (Erubisu) on the West side near campus and the park with no grass. Every time I sit down to enjoy a bowl, I slurp it down, often remembering that day 3 years ago on the plane and often thinking how Ill have to kick the lovely habit once I return home to the land where eating noisily and sipping up noodles is grounds for getting a swift slap in the back of the head!

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