My first meal of 2017: how noodles saved the new year


Disappointments over the Skytree led Ntendeni to try a dish she otherwise would not dare try.

I was tired from my vacation in Nagano. I knew my body wanted to sleep and wake up the following year but who wastes a good new year’s eve in Tokyo sleeping?

My friends were going to welcome 2017 at the crowded Shibuya crossing and I was too tired to share my Oxygen with so many people. I live 20-30 minutes away from Tokyo Skytree by train so I decided to welcome 2017 there.

I disembark at Oshiage station hoping to join crowds of excited Japanese teenagers shouting and ready for the new year. To my shock, Oshiage is quiet. Outside the Skytree are just a dozen young people. Where is everyone?

I ask the security guard where the fireworks are. “Fireworks? No fireworks!”

What? You are telling me the new landmark of modern Japan is not showing off towards the new year? How is it possible that the tallest structure in Japan is not welcoming the new year in style?

I ask him if there are fireworks in Asakusa, another famous tourist location in the area. No fireworks there either.

I go around the building and ask security guards if I can visit the observation deck. No, I cannot visit the observation deck either.

So, the Tokyo Skytree is going to sleep into the new year? Who is in charge of this place? No one sees the money-making potential of having fireworks or some light show towards the new year? No one wants to capitalise off people like me who are willing to dish up year-end salary leftovers just so we can welcome the new year in style?

Nevertheless, I stay outside the Skytree. I reckon that if there are no fireworks, then there might be some kind of light show to ring in the new year. Ten minutes before 2017, the lights on the Skytree change from purple and white to red and grey. I get hopeful.

00:00 on the dot and nothing happens! The lights remain unchanged. The Skytree disappoints.

My disappointment then leads me to a noodle bar opposite the Skytree where I buy “Black Mayu Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen with Slices of Roasted Pork Belly”; so says the menu.

I have been avoiding noodle bars ever since moving to Japan. Noodles never interested me and I was startled at why Japanese people would queue for hours just to get a bowl. Thanks to my disappointment with the Skytree, I have discovered my new favourite dish.


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