The word itself is enough to titillate our senses, as reading it evokes cozy memories bursting with flavor. A culinary chameleon, ramen can be dressed up or it can be dressed down. It is complex, rich, warming – each bowl unique to its creator. Those who love it often find lasting memories at the bottom of an empty bowl, which is why the name holds so much meaning for so many. 

It’s the favorite food of people from all walks of life, and a must-have dish when visiting Los Angeles especially. To give some perspective on just how beloved ramen is in the city, search online for local ramen. You’ll find over 80 million results filled with restaurants, best-of lists and delivery services ready and waiting to bring a bowl of joy directly to your doorstep. 

Though delicious enough as a meal, ramen as a concept makes the flavor in front of you that much more incredible. You see, ramen is more than just a culinary phenomena; the act of plating and enjoying ramen is an art form that spans centuries. Everything from the broth to the noodles and all the ingredients between – even the bowls and spoons themselves – are rich with cultural heritage that begs to be explored. JAPAN HOUSE is doing just that, with its upcoming exhibition “The Art Of The Ramen Bowl.”

Debuting March 18, this compelling presentation explores an age-old question: what goes into a perfect bowl of ramen? From March 18 to July 5, JAPAN HOUSE will offer an impressive array of artifacts and knowledge to help you answer for yourself. 

JAPAN House The Art of Ramen

For those who are interested in history, art and/or food, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles’ s “The Art Of The Ramen Bowl” is not to be missed. 

Showcasing impossibly detailed porcelain donburi (ramen bowls) and equally ornate renge (ramen spoons) designed by 30 world-renowned artists, the exhibit has never been seen before outside of Japan, until now. As the premiere Japanese cultural destination in Los Angeles, JAPAN HOUSE was chosen as the perfect steward to give American audiences a glimpse into the elaborate epicurean tradition that has long been one of the world’s most popular dishes.

“Since ramen was first introduced in Japan in the late 19th century, this everyday dish has become ubiquitous around the world. Yet the quality of the ramen bowls – which enhances the entire ramen experience – is rarely explored,” said Yuko Kaifu, president, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. “We’re excited to offer a new perspective on ramen and allow visitors to experience ramen with all five senses.”

According to the exhibit’s website, “The Art of the Ramen Bowl” explores how a common street food brought to Japan from China in the mid-1800s evolved to become one of Japan’s most beloved dishes, and a complex culinary art form. The exhibition will lead guests through the origins and anatomy of the wheat noodle dish, showcasing the diversity of styles, flavors, ingredients, and styles of ramen and ramen bowls available in Japan.

JAPAN House The Art of Ramen 2

As visitors move through the exhibit, they’ll be introduced to the Ceramic Valley of Mino and its tradition as amajor Japanese ceramics center that has produced beautiful, utilitarian wares for over 500 years. A spotlight of “The Art of the Ramen Bowl,” this informative section pulls you in, enveloping you in the beautifully complex world of ceramics culture using maps, videos and photographs that describe the geography of the region, its history, as well as the work and skills of its ceramic makers.

Visitors of JAPAN HOUSE’s “The Art of the Ramen Bowl,” will discover a whole new world born by the love of ramen. Pose for photos in front of a giant, Instagram-worthy ramen bowl created by well-known Japanese plastic food sample manufacturer Iwasaki Mokei and ponder the main display of designer ramen bowls. The bowls feature some of Japan’s most significant contemporary artists such as Akira Minagawa, Hisashi Tenmyouya, Keiichi Tanaami, Tabaimo, Tadanori Yokoo, and Taku Satoh. As such, the display presents a uniquely Japanese approach to decoration and its placement in everyday ceramics. When viewed, one’s own appreciation of the exhibit promotes the idea that utilitarian vessels can also be works of art.

One of our favorite pieces, created by immersive video artist Tabaimo, depicts  male and female figures in the well of the ramen bowl. As ramen fills the bowl, the decoration changes with it, allowing the viewer to glimpse the couple’s relationship from different viewpoints. As the ramen is consumed, more relationship phases are uncovered, lending an intimacy to an experience that already feels deeply private. 

As a fully immersive experience, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles’ “The Art of the Ramen Bowl,” also includes programs such as special ramen pop-ups in the JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles restaurant space, films and educational webinars. The first webinar – “Delicious Design: Conversation with The Art of the Ramen Bowl Exhibition Curators” – takes place March 22, 2022 from 5-6 p.m. PST. “The Ceramics of Mino: 500 years of Beauty and Innovation” takes place April 5, 2022 from 5-6 p.m. PST. Check the events page for more details.

Admission to JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles’ “The Art of the Ramen Bowl” is free, with walk-ins welcome. The gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. The complimentary exhibition is on display from March 18 – July 5, 2022.

For more information, visit the JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles website and social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

LA Weekly