Back during Golden Week of 2009, I went to 京都一条妖怪ストリートKyouto Ichijou Youkai Sutoriito, or Kyoto Ichijo Monster Street, with Mr. Man to have the 妖怪ラーメンyoukai rahmen, or “Monster Ramen” offered at お食事処いのうえO-shokuji-dokoro Inoue after seeing it covered on a TV program; to tell you the truth, it didn’t look very appetizing at the time but I was curious enough to try it once.
Inoue is part of the 大将軍商店街Taishogun Shopping Street on 一条通Ichijo Street, also known as Kyoto Ichijo Monster Street and where the 百鬼夜行の通り道Hyakkiyakou no Toori-michi, or Monster Night Parade, and many other Japanese monster events take place since 2005. Ichijo Street has been known as a place where humans and monsters meet since the Heian Period.
Since long ago, Japanese people have believed that all objects have a spirit which can be angered when people waste or are careless with such objects, so they take care to use the objects around them well lest the objects take revenge on them…these objects are called 九十九神tsukumogami. Pretty much all the shops of Taishogun Shopping Street have a unique tsukumogami out front that warns again mistreatment of objects.
Instead of going from 西大路通Nishioji Street like most are apt to do, we parked near the other side of Monster Street, so the pictures are in the order opposite of the normal route. Because we went on a substitute national holiday, about half the shops were closed but some of the monsters of the closed shops were on the scene representing, so I was lucky to get pictures of them☺…the objects used to make each monster are good hints about what kind of store each one represents.
in front of 錦佳月堂茶舗Nishikikagetsudo Chaho, a tea store
in front of 矢杉文具センターYasugi Bungu Center, a stationery shop…the monster is holding the shop’s famous monster item, 三笠Mikasa, which is basically a どら焼きdorayaki, or a red bean paste-filled sponge-cake sandwich, in its right hand.
in front of 洋装和装の店ふじわらYousou-wasou no mise Fujiwara, a clothing shop
in front of 中むら餅本舗Nakamura Mochi-honpo, a rice-cake and Japanese sweets shop
in front of ㈲加藤文ふとん店Katobun Futon-ten, a shop that sells bedding, cushions and pajamas
This is what I came for: お食事処いのうえO-shokuji-dokoro Inoue…see the big monster for the restaurant on the side?
another monster at the entrance
a normal Japanese restaurant except for all the pictures, signs, etc. of Japanese monsters throughout the place
妖怪ラーメンyoukai rahmen (“Monster Ramen”), ￥750…check out the black soup (made by adding charcoal to a chicken-based soup)…unfortunately, paprika failed to make this dish appear appetizing.
pretty(?) purple noodles, though
a slice of ピータンpiitan (Chinese-style preserved egg)
Despite its dark color the soup was surprisingly light and the noodles had a normal flavor; with the rest of the ingredients being normal, it tasted like good old ramen. The piitan, however, was hard to stomach, mostly because the appearance was so grotesque…actually I had to close my eyes several times to finish the ramen, proof that sometimes looks count big when it comes to food. But it was a good experience, I didn’t regret trying it.
After having the ramen, we continued looking around.
しずかにゃんShizuka-nyan, the monster for 一条のよ志多Ichijo no Yoshida, a kimono shop
the entrance to Taishogun Shopping Street, aka. Kyoto Ichijo Monster Street, from Nishioji Street
さくらい花店Sakurai Hanaten, a florist, and its monster
鬼吉Onikichi, the monster for メンズショップ・エックスMen’s Shop X, attire for men bigger than your normal Japanese man
食パンじじいShokupan-jijii (“Bread Geezer”), the monster for 手づくりパンの店マイスターTedzukuri pan no mise Meister, a bakery
This place doesn’t seem to exist anymore but it was a shop that sold おせんべいo-senbei (rice crackers) and other Japanese-style snacks.
the monster for 話題のアール洋品店Wadai no Earl Youhin-ten (“The Much-Discussed Western-style apparel shop, Earl”) in front of the shopping street community hall
Even a stop sign was a monster: 気をつけようかいKi-wo-tsukeyou-kai (“Cautious Monster”), a play on words by adding “ki wo tsukeyou” which means “let’s be careful” and “kai” to “-you” to make the word “youkai” (monster).☺
another banner for the street (“Welcome to Monster Street”)
Since “Monster Ramen” isn’t the only monster-related food or goods available on the shopping street, I’ll have to go again sometime soon and check them out, especially when the shops are all open.☺