The roots of Sakata ramen date back to the end of the Taisho era, sometime in the 1920s. It is a simple story; a Chinese guy's ramen was popular, and spawned a slew of related shops. Fun fact, the original Sakata shop was called 三日月軒, and most shops in town show their respect by including the 月 character in their name. More (not much more though) history can be seen in Japanese over at official Sakata site.
I was thinking of forgoing a second bowl, but the massive line outside Mangetsu was begging to be waited in.
Despite about 15 people ahead of me, the line moved fast. Random sight of the day, I watched as a man and his young son stole the ramen map out of the basket of my rented bicycle! I had an extra copy in my bag, and it was free, but still, that was a first!
If you were expecting anything but fishy soup, you'd be wrong.
More of the same.
I really, really liked the vibe at these shops. Locals and tourists all relaxing together. The shops are obviously family run, and the walls are adorned with children's photos and drawings. Community feels strong here.
But I just can't get over the taste. Funky-fishy flavors that, if turned up a couple more notches, would be right at home on an Andrew Zimmern TV show.
Sorry, I have to be honest here on Ramen Adventures.
With some time to spare, I followed the tour buses to see the rest of the town.
From the old warehouses . . .
. . . to $400 a kilo cherries. Yamagata, you're crazy!
Official Site Here
Yamagata-ken, Sakata-shi, Higashinakanokuchimachi 2-1
Closest station: Sataka
Closed 4-5 days a month. Check their homepage.