Tsuta Soba (a type of noodle, made of buckwheat instead of wheat or rice) is a ramen shop with a Michelin star. It was on my priority to-do list since fairly early on in the trip planning. In fact, it’s unusual that Michelin would grant a star to a “typical” ramen shop, and by all accounts, that’s exactly what this is, including pretty average prices. I was intrigued.
I researched everything I needed to know about getting a ramen at Tsuta. I knew that they had decided on a ticket system to control lunchtime crowds. They opened the ticket window at 08:00, and you paid a deposit for a ticket for seating at a specified time over the same day’s lunch opening hours. There are only 9 seats in the shop, and you could only pick up a maximum of 4 tickets per person. People arrived around 07:00 to wait for a voucher.
I had consulted and re-consulted with all my friends, and had finally decided that Wednesday would be my best day. Dick would be available, so I had at least one partner in crime willing to wake up early with me for the queue. Matt would unfortunately be in the Google office over lunch, and everyone else was unsure they wanted to commit. So Dick and I woke up early and headed over.
In the interest of cute things around Japan, these little children-playing statues lined the bridge from the station to the street.
There was almost no one in sight as we rounded the final approach to the shop. I was concerned. It turns out my fears were justified:
Vexed, I opened up the most recent article that I had read about Tsuta. Oops. I had missed the line that said they were open every day except Wednesday.
We returned to the ryokan. Dick went back to his room for more sleep. Matt was also still asleep when I got in. I couldn’t sleep, so I took the laundry to the nearby laundromat, where I chatted with an elderly gentleman. He was 78, and had been studying English since April. I was very impressed. I think he enjoyed the opportunity to try it out. He was also studying the art of Go (the game). He was a little disappointed that I don’t play.