Ramen Jiro: Uncovering the Hidden Delight for Foreign Tourists


     Small Ramen (Mita)



Your love for a good bowl of ramen is heard loud and clear.

Whether you’re visiting Japan or living there, ramen undoubtedly ranks in your top three must-eat foods.

While there are many ramen styles catering to diverse tastes, a significant genre remains unheard of by foreign visitors.

In my extensive ramen shop explorations, I’ve never encountered a foreign tourist. The reasons for this are numerous and fascinating.

Outside Mita Headquarters


If you’re intrigued by the allure of the unknown and ready to embark on a culinary quest, a visit to Ramen Jiro is a must for the daring.

Delve into this blog and uncover why Ramen Jiro remains one of Japan’s best-kept secrets.

Understand why it’s a recommended stop for those who relish a challenge. As you read on, you’ll discover the allure of this hidden gem and learn how to immerse yourself in a truly unique and memorable ramen experience.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Ramen Jiro? – Unraveling the Mystery of the Mega Bowl
  2. Why are there no tourists? – The Secret Behind its Exclusive Local Appeal
  3. How to Prepare for Your Visit – Essential Tips for the Ramen Adventurer
  4. The Unwritten Protocol – Navigating the Ramen Jiro Culture
  5. Jiro-Inspired Shops – Exploring the Legacy Beyond the Original
  6. For More Information – Your Guide to the Ramen Jiro Universe


1. What is Ramen Jiro?

 The Quintessence of Ramen Jiro

– Imagine a bowl of Ramen Jiro:

not just a dish, but a grand testament to culinary boldness.

This isn’t your average ramen.

It’s a colossal serving that boldly defies convention.

Each bowl is brimming with thick, chewy noodles, copious amounts of succulent pork slices, a generous heap of yasai (vegetables) that melds seamlessly with the rich flavors, and a hefty dose of garlic.

The crowning glory is a rich layer of pork back fat, adding a depth of flavor that is both intense and comforting.

This is a bowl that challenges and delights in equal measure, a true embodiment of the phrase “feast for the eyes and the palate.”


The History and Evolution of Ramen Jiro

– The history of Ramen Jiro is as rich and layered as the dish itself.

It traces back to the culinary ingenuity of Takumi Yamada, a figure now legendary in the ramen world.

Yamada’s vision was to create a ramen experience that was not just a meal but a culinary event.

In the 1960s, he began this journey, eventually establishing the first Ramen Jiro restaurant. His creation was revolutionary, challenging the traditional notions of ramen with its oversized portions and bold, unapologetic flavors.

Over the years, this style has not only persisted but has become a cultural icon in its own right.

Each bowl of Ramen Jiro is a tribute to Yamada’s legacy, a legacy that continues to evolve and inspire a dedicated following.


(rare picture) Inside the counter


2. Why are there no tourists?

  1. Ramen Jiro is not widely advertised, even within Japan.
  2.  The bowl’s size can be daunting, and its appearance, quite unique.
  3. The shops often have a ‘lived-in’ look, and the queues are usually long.
  4. The staff can come across as unfriendly, contributing to an intimidating atmosphere.
  5. These establishments strictly serve ramen, with no side options like dumplings or rice.
Intense discipline for waiting


3. How to Prepare for Your Visit

  1. It’s advisable to arrive with an empty stomach, though portion sizes can be adjusted.
  2. Observe and mimic the queueing method of the locals.
  3. Be sure to carry cash (no large bills), as tickets must be purchased by a vending machine upon entry.
  4. Pay attention to how others ahead of you navigate entry, ticket purchase, seating, and ordering.
  5. Study the menu in advance; English descriptions are a rarity.

4. The Unwritten Protocol

  1. Stand in line correctly, avoiding loud conversations.
  2. The process of buying a ticket varies by shop; observe those ahead to learn.
  3. Seating is typically individual, so when a seat opens up, the next person in line goes in whether you are in a group or not.
  4. Present your ticket at the counter as you sit, and specify any portion or noodle texture adjustments then.
  5. Keep conversation to a minimum, especially after being served.
  6. Be prepared to quickly state your topping preferences when prompted. (When your bowl is almost ready)
  7. Photography is limited to your bowl of ramen. No picture of staff or the interior permitted.
  8. Aim to finish your entire serving.
  9. After eating, use the rag on the counter to tidy your space, and place used utensils neatly on the counter.
  10. After eating, use the rag on the counter to tidy your space, and place used utensils neatly on the counter.
  11. Discard any paper waste in the provided bins as you exit.
  12. Depart promptly after your meal, offering a polite “gochisosama” if you enjoyed the food.

5. Jiro-Inspired Shops

 There are 44 shops operating under the Jiro name across Japan, each distinct and run by an apprentice trained by Yamada.

Hundreds of other establishments, either trained at a Jiro shop or inspired by Jiro style, offer their unique take on this concept, and many of them more popular than the Jiros.

Basara (Oookayama)
Butaboshi (Motosumiyoshi)
Menderu (Denenchofu)
Tatsuya (Setagaya)


Here’s an English guide to Ramen Jiro Shops and Inspired Ramens


For More Information –

As the creator of the English-language Ramen Jiro Instagram account, I have mixed emotions.

Ramen Jiro outlets are consistently bustling, with queues forming throughout the day.

These shops don’t need extra publicity, as increased customer traffic is not necessarily a benefit for regular patrons like us ‘Jirorians.’

However, considering the curiosity of foreign visitors in Japan, Ramen Jiro presents a novel experience worth adding to their travel itineraries.

It’s not just an excellent opportunity for a standout Instagram post, but also an incredibly cost-effective way to satisfy your appetite.

☆Additional Information:

While I doubt these shops will actively adapt to be more foreigner-friendly – (the ones with English signs might even be less popular) – I understand the challenges first-time visitors might face.

While I figure out a long term solution, if you have questions or need guidance, feel free to direct message me on Instagram. My expertise primarily covers Tokyo (mainly the southern part) and the Yokohama/Kawasaki area.

② As of November 2023, the exchange rate is quite favorable for tourists: $1 equals 150 yen, the lowest in decades. Jiro ramen, known for its generous portions (2-3x average) and high calorie content, is surprisingly affordable in Japan, priced between 700 to 1000 yen (roughly 5 to 7 USD, and no tipping required!). This pricing isn’t sustainable long-term, so I recommend seizing this unique and memorable dining opportunity soon.


Ramen Jiro is not merely a meal; it’s an entire experience, a hidden gem that’s waiting to be discovered by foreign visitors looking for an authentic Japanese culinary adventure.