A Day With Yoshimi And Her Family

As we sat in the extraordinary Taiko-en restaurant relaxing after an exceptional meal, our friend Yoshimi remarked that we had visited many places together over the years. So true, and from our first adventure together back in 2005 at Toei Movie Land to this memorable dinner experience, it had all been great fun.

Earlier that day we had enjoyed an excursion with her and her children to CUPNOODLES Museum. Her daughter Miho, who had been an adorable baby on our last visit, had grown into a shy pre-schooler, and there were new babies to meet (Twins! A boy and a girl).

The first order of business When we arrived at the museum was picture-taking at the statue of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of CUPNOODLES, which stands near the entrance.

Just inside is a display of about 800 types of instant noodles. You walk down the hall to a large room called "My CUPNOODLES Factory" where you can buy an empty styrofoam cup for about $3. Then you are shown to a table where you can decorate your cup using an assortment of colored markers

Next you join the line to concoct your creation. You tell one of the smiling young women behind the glass which type of broth you would like (There are 4 to chose from.) and then you choose 4 ingredients from a range of options. It's all inserted into the cup along with the dried noodles.

Next you turn a wheel to compress the air out. The cup is covered with plastic and moves on to some sort of sterilization process.

Finally, you are given your cup which you can then insert into a protective plastic bubble if you can figure out how to do that. We could not. The picture is one I found on the internet.

Watching Yoshimi juggle the twins and the shy pre-schooler and still manage to take photos with her cell phone was impressive.

The museum also had various exhibits. One of them was a recreation of the shed where Momofuku Ando worked every day for over a year, sleeping only 4 hours a night, to create Chicken Ramen - the world's first instant noodles. Another touted his invention of instant noodles that can be eaten in space. There was also a tasting room where you could buy instant noodles that are not usually sold in the area from vending machines and sit and eat them.

I got to hold one of the twins at diaper change time.

Yoshimi's husband Hiro met us when we left the museum. We enjoyed a snack together and then headed back to the hotel to change for dinner.

The restaurant is situated in the Amijima Mansion built by Baron Denzaburo Fujita for his son around 1910. After arriving, we took a walk around the peaceful garden and a brief tour of some of the rooms in the mansion.

Then we were escorted to the private room where our dinner would be served and introduced to the other guests - friends of Yoshimi and Hiro. We were seated closest to the windows that looked out over the garden so we could enjoy the view.

A seemingly endless parade of delicacies began appearing before us. Much of it was unidentifiable to us, but it was all delicious.

After dinner, there was a bit of picture taking. Then we wandered out to the garden so the children could enjoy the summer evening activities. Finally, we all enjoyed watching the fireflies in the garden. We'll always cherish the memory of this delightful evening.