Move over Disneyland…I’m going to Ramen World.

image courtesy of Image Shack

You know Disneyland and Marine World. Even the toy-themed LegoLand and country music’s Dollywood. But how about Ice Cream City, Gyoza Stadium, and Ramen Square?

Japan loves its food-themed parks. Sure, we have our Busch Gardens and Knotts Berry Park, but how much beer or jam do you really find there? Even Hershey Park is just a chocolate-covered excuse for water slides and roller coasters.

Japan’s food-themed parks focus on a single dish, style, or region. They have all the usual accoutrements of traditional parks with surroundings that highlight the theme, costume-clad entertainers, and vendors hawking kitschy mementos. There are artifacts, games, demonstrations, performances, and celebrity appearances. The exhibits and activities reflect the history and manufacture of the food, and souvenir menus and photographs document the thrill of the meal.

The most popular of the parks allow visitors to experience the atmosphere of an earlier era, a foreign culture, or a fantasy land. These parks suit the Japanese lifestyle by offering a break from the routine in a culture that makes little time for extended vacations. They rank third among the top domestic recreational destinations, trailing only Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan.

The oldest of these attractions is the New Yokohama Ramen Museum. The indoor ‘park’ showcases a huge array of noted, regional ramen makers set in a re-created 1950’s setting, which is considered the golden age of ramen. Yokohama Daisekai simulates 1920’s  Shanghai in a building that was the residence of Chinese traders when the Yokohama harbor was opened to foreigners in 1859. Dotonbori Gokuraku Shoten is housed in a building that replicates 1920’s pre-war Osaka complete with a traditional Osakan counter bar (pub), period street performers, and vaudeville acts.

You’ll find western-style desserts at the Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest, dumplings galore at the Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium (found within Namja Town, a traditional amusement park), and nothing but octopus balls at the Osaka Takoyaki Museum Park.

Toto, we’re not in Orlando anymore.

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3 Responses to Move over Disneyland…I’m going to Ramen World.

  1. when i was a kid, i really enjoyed going up and down on water slides, it is a very enjoyable experience *’`

  2. The Walt Disney World park happens to be my family’s popular place to go during summer. My kids love to go there annually to be on the rides and the water park. This destination is a must go for a family vacation at least once in your life span. The tickets may be a bit expensive, but it is well worth the charge!

  3. We love Ramen….our fav. spot in SF is Katana-ya. Yum. I can see myself ditching Disney for ramen 🙂

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