While the rest of the world may be more familiar with sushi, perhaps Japan's most beloved food is ramen.
The bowl of noodles, sliced meat and vegetables, served with a steaming broth is both a lunchtime staple and a surefire way to soak up excess alcohol after a long night of barhopping.
Noodles have been elevated to a gourmet fine art in Japan. The country boasts a wide variety of ramen styles based on how the dish is prepared or the region of Japan where the style of ramen originated — Sapporo in the north and Fukuoka in the southwest have developed their own distinctive regional versions.
There is a wide variety of blogs and publications in Japan devoted to ramen.
The magazine also frequently posts photos and mini-reviews of ramen restaurants on its Twitter account.
東京・日野市の「麺・DINING 毘沙門天」で、鶏そば 塩 並盛り680円。 pic.twitter.com/h9KdNocfKm
— ラーメンWalker (@ramenwalker) February 28, 2016
We tried chicken ramen in a salt broth for US$6 at “Bishomenten Noodle & Dining House.” (Hino City, Tokyo)
埼玉・朝霞「中華蕎麦 瑞山」にて、しおそば730円 pic.twitter.com/eRJE2SvvKV
— ラーメンWalker (@ramenwalker) February 27, 2016
Ramen in salt broth for US$6.50 at Buckweat Noodle House “Seosan” (Asaka, Saitama)
埼玉「寿製麺 中華そば よしかわ」の、今年1月にオープンした川越店にて。中華そば750円 pic.twitter.com/lUbAnb8mJi
— ラーメンWalker (@ramenwalker) February 26, 2016
Ramen for US$6.50 at Yoshikawa Ramen's new location in Kawagoe (Saitama)
The sophistication of ramen eateries can range from the humble standing-only stalls in busy train stations, to sit-down restaurants boasting full service and the atmosphere of a Chinese fine-dining establishment.
Many cities in Japan also have a vibrant street food culture, and ramen is a part of it.
Some ramen chefs ply their trade each night from the back of small modified trucks, like this one on the truck route in Tsuruga:
— かわうそ@東京みのりんピック！ (@kawauso100310) March 6, 2015
At “Iked-ya Gonchan” truck ramen in Tsuruga, Fukui (*´﹃｀*) [#JR Tours Shizuoka]
Japan is also home to the Yokohama Ramen Museum. Besides providing an overview of the history of ramen in Japan, the Yokohama Ramen Museum recreates the Japan of 1958. This is an important year, for 1958 was when the Nissin company sold the world's first instant ramen.
The year 1958 also generates nostalgic memories of a simpler time in Japan that had rebuilt after the Second World War and was starting to enjoy material prosperity.
Unlike Ramen Walker, the Tokyo Ramen Museum doesn't have much of a Twitter presence, but has uploaded thirty or so images to its Instagram account.
A photo posted by 新横浜ラーメン博物館(ramen museum) (@ramenmuseum) on
A street scene in Japan as it would have looked around 1958. Very retro and nostalgic!
If all this talk of ramen has whet your appetite and you want to explore the world of chukamen (中華麺) — or Chinese noodles — in English, All About Japan has collected a list of Japan's top ramen bloggers.