With temperatures in Tokyo soaring into the 35 degree range, we all set out north for the weekend.
Fukushima to be exact. The above photo was taken at the Ebisu Circuit up in the Bandai area. World famous as a premier drift racing track, it also caters to motorcycle racers.
And there is a zoo on site. Yeah, cost of admission to ride the track includes a fun day at the zoo.
Completely random, completely awesome. Only in Japan.
When we woke up at the campsite on Sunday morning, rain. Not super heavy, but enough to curtail a day of touring in the mountains that we had planned. I had managed to even sway the other riders to hit the mountain roads until 11am, then head down to Shirakawa, a town on the border of Fukushima and Ibaraki for a lunchtime bowl.
The rain had everyone jumping onto the expressway for an early ride home. Only two of us remained. Two die-hard ramen fans. But it was only 6am. What ramen shops are open at 6am?
Bannai, Makoto Shokudo, Ippei, Abe Shokudo, Kiichi, and Asian Shokudo. That's where!
Even though it was about 30 minutes out of our way, Kitakata is one of the only places in Japan with an asa-ra culture. Breakfast ramen. Legit.
This is Makoto Shokudo. With a 60 year history spanning four generations, you know you're going to get a hearty bowl.
Standard Kitakata style. Wavy noodles in that simple shoyu soup, heavy on the niboshi. Tender chashu.
The shop is huge, with individual Japanese-style rooms available for families, as well as a counter and tables next to the kitchen.
Did I mention this is the owner's house? Don't go upstairs!
This spot was packed at 7:30am.
The owners (3rd and 4th generation) spoke some English, so be sure to have a chat if you head up here.
Fukushima-ken, Kitakata-shi, Otazukimichishita 7116
Closest station: Kitakata