Monday, February 9, 2009

Noodle Museum Insights

What I learned at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama: Perhaps there is not enough to say about noodles to fill an entire museum.

For your viewing pleasure: Lily is reacting to the scintillatingly history of Cup O' Noodles behind her--the styrofoam packages lovingly encased in glass because of their obvious cultural preciosity. If you peer to the left of her and squint just so, you can view the life and times of instant Ramen packets, carefully stuck to the wall. In another 2X3 room, visitors are treated to a multitude of drawers, that when slid open, reveal real plastic replicas of Noodle Meals From Bygone Eras.

We finished this museum in under 5 minutes.

It took me a couple of months to post this "experience" because someone was an eensy bit cranky that his outing didn't wow the pants off of everyone. (A little emotional distance was called for. ) At the heart of this matter, Mr. LBS (low blood sugar) was starving and nobody else was hungry. A bit o' wounded pride mixed with an unreasonable mood swing made for a fabulous family outing.

However, in all fairness, he didn't make too much fun of me last summer after I insisted that everyone truck an hour out of Kyoto, on a metro and then a trolley bus (and then a small hike), to view the cormorant fishing along the Oi River. Cormorants, if you don't already know (because you somehow missed reading the children's classic Ping), are diving birds that have been fitted with rings around their slender necks. They can catch fish for their owners but not eat them.

Frommer's Japan declared that "there's no more romantic way to spend a summer's evening than drifting down the river in a wooden boat decorated with paper lanterns, watching the fishermen and their cormorants at work. It's simply magical."

I beg to differ.

But only because reality supplied a dose of, well...harsh reality: There were wooden boats--about 50 of them jammed together, packed to the gills with gullible tourists who had all shelled out 25 bucks each to watch "fishermen" on a canoe herd a gaggle of birds down one side of the strung-together boats and up the other. The dreamy smell of diesel filled the air--supplied by the outboard "snack boat" selling romantic offerings like beer and ice cream.

The fishermen made three passes by the lantern-lit boats--they looked like some ridiculous Greek god spurning on a tethered flock of choking, squawking, pencil-necked fowl, a giant torch leading the whole surreal procession. The torch light served the dual purpose of attracting the little fishies cormorants crave while also illuminating the bug-eyed splendor of the majestic cormorant "at work".

"It was simply...horrifying."--Nancy's Guide to Kyoto.

Then we had to hike back to the trolly, take the metro for another hour and schlep back to the hotel. I was glared at several times. Traveling/adventuring can be quite humbling. Sometimes you accidently blunder into off-the-beaten-path experiences that mesmerize you not only for a moment, but an entire lifetime.

And sometimes you follow a reputable guide right into a Cormorant Calamity/Noodle Hell on Earth.

That's life in a nutshell, if you ask me.


Anonymous said...

Somtimes its just ahrd to admit that you have picked an excurson that, well, falls short.
I have been know to strctch the museum going to it's bounds and maybe, just maybe, the noodle mseum was over the top.
I still want to go to get noodles there some evening...

Nancy B said...

Well, we have had more hits than misses, I think! Noodles and cormorants aside, we have had some really special experiences. Bad or good, it's all memorable...and with some hindsight, quite funny.