• Shona McCarthy

Ramen, But Not As I Knew It...

While I stayed in Arashiyama I found myself craving one of my favourite dishes, Tonkotsu ramen. So, when I stumbled upon a little ramen shop named Irorin along the street, I went in and ate.

What I found ever since I first ate ramen in Japan is that it is a largely different experience to what eating ramen is like here in Australia. In Australia, ramen tends to be marketed as a traditional Japanese dish. Ramen restaurants tend to be decorated to look something like a matsuri, often highly sophisticated. When people say, "I like Japanese food." Ramen is often one of the dishes they are thinking of. Most ramen places tend to look very new, too, since Australia's ramen boom is relatively recent.

However, in Japan, ramen is actually thought of as being a Chinese dish. It's seen as a highly casual dish, almost like tuck shop food here in Australia.

So what I found in this shop was that everything was somewhat old. Charmingly retro, aside from the wall art, which was vibrant and rustic. I don't know if the restaurant will still be this way, since when I visited, it seemed that the outside was being renovated and I suppose the inside would logically follow.

(The renovations happening to Irorin in Arashiyama, 2019.)

The restaurant had an old radio playing what I think was songs by the Carpenters and Olivia-Newton John. It wasn't run by a team of youths who had been hired by a chain. it was run by a mom and pop couple who had been running it for decades. I can easily believe the place hadn't been changed in 30 years. It didn't need to.  

(The ramen at Irorin is so delicious. If I ever go back to Arashiyama, I will undoubtedly return to Irorin, hopefully with friends. 2019.)

The lady who took my order complimented me on my outfit many times. I was so flattered. But then, she actually went upstairs and brought down various antique items as gifts for me. She also lead me upstairs and allowed me to try on an Uchikake kimono she had up there. It was naturally beautiful.

While it wouldn't be fair to think they would allow all customers into the upper floor of their shop, they seemed to be very kind. I think they deserve more business than they have.

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(A selfie I took with some of the wall art. 2019.)

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