Spicy Ramen along Nagano Shinkansen
Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano can be a bit of a drag. Sure, it’s a thrill to take the bullet train for the first time. But, after a few round trips, the allure wears off. So, if you are looking to spice up your next trip, I recommend taking a break in Takasaki.
To be frank, Takasaki is no tourist mecca. Sure, it offers nice parks (especially during cherry blossom season) and a few notable festivals (including the annual Daruma Market at Shorinzan Temple). But, the real reason that it is worth the layover: Kannana Ramen.
A local ramen shop that doesn’t cater to tourists, Kannana Ramen simply offers the best spicy ramen in all of Gunma Prefecture. And, when I say spicy, I mean wake-up your sinuses spicy. If you want something to break-up the monotony of travel, this is it.
The good news: Ordering at Kannana Ramen is a simple three step process. First, choose your base (Tonkotsu, Shōyu, or Miso). Then, add your garnishings (they offer three pre-set mixes). Finally, choose your spice level (one to four).
Of the three, the spice is what makes Kannana Ramen special. I promise: Level four, just say “geki kara,” will make your visit to Takasaki truly memorable. It’s what spicy ramen is all about - that mouth numbing sensation warning the brain: “The spice is about to kick-in!”
So, how do you get there? If you are looking for Kannana Ramen on Google, stop right now. Unless you know Japanese, you’re not going to find it. In fact, I had to solicit the help of a close friend who used to work in Takasaki just to get the address. This is a place that expatriates find through friends not Yelp. I just hope it stays that way.