Anyone who has traveled in Japan will know that udon is one of the country's most important foods. There are many different ways to serve these noodles and many opinions about what is best.
In Yoyogi Park on August 24th and 25th was a chance for udon restaurants from around Japan to settle the score. It was "The Competition to Decide Japan's #1 Udon".
Visited by more than 140,000 people, people were free to browse around the dozens of shops setup in the park and vote on how their udon was:
1) Extremely satisfying
3) Not really satisfying
Watch as we take a look at some of the udon shops set-up for the competition including a tomato based soup udon, "mimi udon" or "ear-shaped udon" and udon with vegetables.
We tried 3 different types of udon. A basic "bukake" (everything) udon which we thought earned a "satisfying" vote, "mimi udon" which, although unique, was "not really satisfying", and finally, "Donmen Hakata Noodle shop" - udon with vegetables - from Fukuoka Prefecture which earned a vote of "extremely satisfying".
So what udon was ranked #1 by visitors? Hanayama-udon from Gunma Prefecture. And for the record, Donmen, the udon with vegetables, was ranked #9.
One important note: I was reminded by some people originally from Kagawa prefecture, home of the legendary "sanuki udon", that no competitors came from Kagawa and so any results from this competition could "not be trusted"…
It's one of those special traditions in Japan - the summer matsuri (festival). There are so many kinds of matsuri and many ways to celebrate.
This matsuri, in Ebisu is called the Ebisu eki-mae bon odori - The Ebisu station midsummer dance festival. The focus is dancing, eating and drinking.
Watch as people gather to dance along with some traditional festival dancing, children eat and play, grown-ups drink. Watch a little kid enjoys his favorite snack - tiny tako (octopus) on a skewer - and huge ika (squid) get grilled-up.
And as the night winds down, people dance along to the festival's theme song: Mr. Ebisu!