FUKUOKA--Ramen seems to be almost as important as airplanes at the airport here.
An official "Ramen Kassoro" (ramen runway) was set up in the dining area of Fukuoka Airport on Nov. 21.
The people of this western city are renowned for their love of slurping up noodles, and nine ramen joints fight for customers on the runway.
They include popular eateries based in Hokkaido, Tokyo and elsewhere, and locally based establishments that serve "tonkotsu ramen," a specialty dish of Fukuoka that comes in a sturdy pork bone broth.
Ramen Kassoro, which also houses a tea shop offering sweets, is a passage designed to look like a runway and is lined with the noodle shops on both sides.
"Ramen Kassoro is a point of arrivals and departures for ramen," said Tetsuya Iwamoto of Fukuoka Airport Building Co. "It is a runway along which delicious ramen dishes arrive from across Japan as well as Fukuoka’s ramen departing for other parts of the country."
Employees of FAB including Iwamoto toured restaurants from Hokkaido in the north to Kagoshima Prefecture in the southwest to choose the eateries to be represented.
Ramen Kassoro opened on the third floor of the airport’s domestic terminal building. While seven of the nine ramen restaurants are permanent, the remaining two will operate for 12 months only and then be replaced by others.
The permanent restaurants include Teshikaga Ramen from Hokkaido; Tsujita from Tokyo; Ramen Nagi, also from Tokyo (to open Nov. 28); and Mankai from Osaka Prefecture. The other permanent eateries are local establishments based in Fukuoka Prefecture: Hakata Ikkousha, Ramen Unari and Yatai Ramen Gyokuryu.
The initial occupants of the limited-time slots are Wantanmen no Mangetsu from Yamagata Prefecture and Tokyo's Hakata Kogashi-Miso Senmon Gogyo.
Apart from the ramen restaurants, Saryo Itoen, a Tokyo-based chain of tea shops offering sweets, has also set up shop along Ramen Kassoro.