Yokohama Ryuugaku Kikou

Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Jiro Strikes Back

I'm Back

A bit of a break from the whole serious-business welcome to YNU guide: let me talk a bit about Jiro again. As in, Ramen Jiro.

So a friend from California came to visit last month — in the two weeks before he did, while he was planning out itineraries, I think even before he asked me about specific plans to meet up, there it was: hang out with Mattie in Yokohama, “…destroy a garlic ramen place.” I giggled. I was cool with that, actually; I’d not returned back to Jiro ever since that fateful first time — I was pretty ready to give it another go. He was ready to pay his respects to the garlic king, and a chat over Skype confirmed his hype.

Meeting up with him and a couple of other people — mutual friends — at Kannai station at about 1 PM, we proceeded to walk right down the street to the line already 15 people strong. I describe to them once more how the ramen is, and tell them, based on the one prior experience that I had, to get a small. They didn’t believe me — after all, all of us had been busy enough in the morning to skip a decent breakfast. I looked up and showed them pictures. They were flabbergasted. My dear friend continued to waffle for a while wondering if he should just go for it, destroy a huge amount of food, like any stereotypical American could and would.

“No,” I discouraged empathically. “You are going to die.”

“Dude, don’t worry about it, I can hella finish that off,” came the response. One by one, we entered the store and ordered Jiro’s ramen.

OK, Go

In the end, we all went for the standard small bowls. As I’d planned earlier, I dropped the garlic level down to chotto dake. The ramen became a bit more bearable, but the garlic was still strong; I managed to get all the way down to the broth, at which point I couldn’t continue. Gulping down the customary bottle of twice-steeped oolong tea afterward returned most of the inside of my mouth to normal, but the garlic stuck around in the back of my tongue. I’d prepped mints, too — those didn’t help, either. As the shirts the chefs wore said, in perfect English: Jiro without garlic is like a life without love.

One by one, the others rose from the store. None of them finished it — one admitted he’d left a bit of cha-shu behind, but if he’d gone any further he would’ve thrown up. Another — one of the people who’d thought about getting a large — asked me how people could ever hope to finish a large. I shrugged. (I remember asking the friend who’d first recommended Jiro to me the same thing; his response was “no normal person can.”)

And then my friend appeared, the last to come out of the store. He loved it. He’d finished the bowl, broth and everything. Apparently something had snapped inside him, gave him a second wind. But he needed a bit of a rest. He admitted defeat, at least to the legendary large:

We walked through Isezaki-cho for a bit. All we could think about and talk about for the next fifteen minutes was the ramen and how much it destroyed us.

None of us ate dinner that night. Ramen Jiro was filling enough for an entire day. ◆

A Couple of Notes for the Incoming Students, Part 2 (Updated! – 2013/8/29)

Part two of my guide to Yokohama ryuugaku life. Here’s a copy-and-paste of the table of contents quickjump:

Part 1 (The Dorms, The Neighborhood, Commuter Passes)
Part 2 (Getting to School, Getting Comfy in Your New Place, Resident Registration, Cell Phones, Money)
Part 3 (Getting to Know Yokohama A Bit Better)

Disclaimers: this is not an official guide; things are current at the time I wrote this post and will change; you can probably use this as a guide for non-YNU study abroad but a good chunk of things won’t apply to you; this is based on my experience and things may be different when you get here. Read more →

A Couple of Notes for the Incoming Students, Part 1 (Updated! – 2013/8/29)

Have a seat, and listen up!

It’s about that time of the year where I remember I have a blog, I go in, and see more hits than usual, due apparently in part to search terms for the JOY program and odd things about the area in English. Maybe I should’ve written this earlier, but now that spring break is here (and I’m done with the usual handful of end-semester assignments I procrastinated on), I can actually sit down and write this up. Ahem.

To those of you who have decided to make Yokohama National University your university away from university for a semester or two, hi! My name’s Mattie, and I look forward to getting to know you, JOY-sei alumni 2012-2013. Lemme give you a preview of life as us ryuugakusei live it here in Japan to the best of my ability, shall I?

Oh, before that, though, couple of disclaimers: this was current at the time I wrote it (2-18-2013) revised it (2013/8/29); things probably will have changed. This isn’t an official guide or anything like that. This is also YNU-specific, so if you’re thinking of studying abroad and YNU isn’t on your list, things will naturally differ…I think that’s about it. Okay, onto the good stuff. Read more →