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The Global-standard of Ramen

2013.07.11

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Ramen, a part of Japanese food culture, has been spreading throughout the world at a tremendous pace. This, in turn, has drawn foreign tourists from different countries to visit Japan in search of ramen. Economic growth in ASEAN countries along with the yen's depreciation in particular, have led to a steady growth of tourism from Southeast Asia. Additionally, individual travel from Europe and the United States has been growing by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, requests for Islamic-law and vegetarian menus are also on a sharp rise.
Presently, there are over 1,000 ramen shops overseas, and although preparation of menus for Islamic law-bound and vegetarian diet at shops in each country is both commonplace and common-sense, such support from shops in Japan has been little to none thus far. If ramen is going to globalize in the true sense of the concept, it is essential that such vegetarian versions be made available.
Though Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum had responded to vegetarian requests, a system to always provide vegetarian dishes has been put into place beginning on Monday July 1, 2013. We continue to strengthen our support for the improved travel experience for foreign tourists. The lack of Wi-Fi accessibility has been said to be the number-one ranking difficulty for tourists to Japan, so we've set up a Wi-Fi (free public-access wireless LAN) accessible environment.


【Tourism to Japan from Islamic Regions is Skyrocketing 】

As stated before, the economic growth of ASEAN has brought about a rapid increase in tourism from the likes of Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian nationalities. With nearly 1.6 billion people, Muslims make up about a fourth of the world's population, and about 220 million, or 14% of that figure is from Malaysian, and Indonesian nationals. An aspect of Islam is the taboo against consuming certain food ingredients like pork and alcohol, and the desire for halal food products made from food sources in environments that are permissible and in accordance with Islamic law.

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Nevertheless, according to one Indonesian association for travel agencies, analysis showed that 70% of Muslims in Indonesia are liberal, and 30% are strict, and that liberal Muslims can be found especially in large metropolitan areas such as Jakarta. In a program run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was claimed by Japanese travel agencies arranging travel for Southeast Asian students that Indonesians were content as long as pork wasn't evident outright in the food that was served.
*Starting on Monday July 1, 2013 is Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum's Muslim-Friendly menu, with dishes that exclude alcohol, pork and other taboo ingredients not approved under halal.


【Vegetarian Menus for the Many Western Tourists to Japan】

On the other hand, ramen has been a big hit in Western countries over the past five years, and the museum has seen a drastic increase in travelers from these countries. Different to the vegetarians in Japan, many vegetarians from the West do not adhere to a vegetable-only principle, but may also consume dairy and egg products. Preparation of vegetarian dishes is culturally a matter of course, and according to an announcement from the United States National Restaurant Association, 80% of restaurants in the United States had vegetarian dishes on their menu in 1999.

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* ● = consumed / × = not consumed

The Raumen Museum differentiates vegetarian dishes based on these four classifications, showing which ingredients are included so that customers can make choices. These classifications come from the American Dietetic Association. Different ideas from different nationalities, and therefore different classifications exist.


【Global standard dishes from each of our shops】

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Shop name: Men-no-bo Toride Price: 900 yen
On the menu: ovo-vegetarian dishes
Flavor: miso Ingredients: vegetables, eggs (in the noodles)
Toride maximizes the very best taste from fermented seed pastes in their miso ramen with Chiimaajan (a Chinese sesame paste similar to tahini), Tenmenjan, and Tobanjan (two Chinese bean pastes, one sweet and the other spicy, called tianmianjiang doubanjiang in Chinese respectively). The abura'age (fried tofu topping) is branded with the Toride (砦) mark.

Shop name: Shina Soba-ya Price: 950 yen
On the menu: Muslim-friendly, pork-free dishes
Flavor: salt
Ingredients: vegetables, eggs (in the noodles), chicken or seafood (sauce)
The soup is an extraction of potato, corn, and other vegetable flavors. The main ingredients include seasonal Kyo-yasai, vegetable varieties from Kyoto. Chicken and seafood are used to a small extent in the sauce.

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Shop name: Ryu Shanghai Price: 850 yen
On the menu: vegan style vegetarian dishes:
Flavor: Miso Ingredients: Only vegetables
Shiitake mushrooms, kelp and a touch of sesame oil compliment this raw simplistic miso-based ramen. Top it off with a scoop of spicy miso paste.

Shop name: IKEMEN HOLLYWOOD Price: 900 yen
On the menu: lacto-ovo style vegetarian dishes
Flavor: tsuke-men (dip ramen) miso cream
Ingredients: vegetables, dairy products, egg whites
This lacto-ovo vegetarian dish has a white miso base with added butter and dairy cream for a Western-style finishing touch.

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Shop name: Komurasaki Price: 850 yen
On the menu: vegan style vegetarian dishes
Flavor: Hiyashi ch?ka (Chinese chilled) noodles
Ingredients: vegetables

This bowl of chilled noodles includes plenty of vegetables, with no animal-based ingredients whatsoever: cucumber, tomato, wakame seaweed, kikurage (jelly-ear mushrooms), cabbage, and bean sprouts.


【Special installations and services for tourists to Japan】
Besides developing Muslim and vegetarian-friendly dishes, the Raumen Museum also offers a variety of services to better receive and welcome our overseas visitors.

1) Wi-Fi access point installation
In a questionnaire survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency in 2012, tourists were asked what hardships they experienced during their stay in Japan, and 36.7% of respondents answered that the lack of free, public Wi-Fi access points was a problem, making it the number one response. In second at 24% was the difficulty they felt to communicate during their stay. With increased inquiries by our guests about Wi-Fi access, we've decided to provide access in June of 2013. Wi-Fi is one thing that's so common-place abroad, but that Japan still lags behind in.



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2) We've updated our foreign-language brochure
To our current line up of brochures that offers museum guidance to speakers of English, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, and Thai, we have included icon-type symbols to clarify where pork-free and vegetarian dishes are offered, as well as helpful Wi-Fi information.

3) Introduction of instruments to address the worship needs of our Islamic visitors.
Muslims worship five times a day. To do so they require a place to worship, a mat for worshiping upon, and a qibla, or compass that indicates the direction to worship to. We have made these things available to our Muslim customers to make use of.