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Others Choose College, You Choose Ramen School

Main image from the movie Tampopo, image courtesy of Janus Films.

Yea, some may opt for clown school, but your love for ramen will take you to Japan, where they aren’t clowning around.

There may be a bunch of influencers and food bloggers hyping that they have a ramen recipe, but the vast majority of those recipes are closer to instant ramen, which are the Americanized versions of ramen. So if you are looking to learn restaurant-quality Japanese ramen worthy of a Michelin recognition, you have to book a ticket to Japan.

The TLDR (too long, did not read aka the summary version):

  • Type of schools: these are specialty ramen schools although some schools offer additional courses such as appetizers to sushi.
  • Ramen types: from tonkotsu (pork bone) to shoyu ramen (soy sauce) and shio (salt) ramen.
  • Location: onsite courses in Japan are generally located in and around Tokyo.
  • Online course availability: some schools provide online courses via video tutorials.
  • Course duration: classes can range from several hours, 5 days, to upwards of 10-15 days.
  • Frequency: I will be messaging them on the frequency of their courses because one school did not seem like they held classes throughout the year (it seemed more like quarterly or bi-annually?).
  • Fees/cost: can range approximately from $90 to $4,500 which can cover supplies/ingredients to accommodations.
  • Languages: most of the programs are in English along with some being multilingual (Yamato only offers ONE class in English).
  • Accommodations: some schools with week long courses offer accommodations although all of them are male only.
  • Why the blog post: I am doing this post because due to language issues, some of these sites and schools are hard to understand.
  • I have never been through any of the courses: I want to, so I am like you, and I am deliberating over the information provided.

These schools and classes are good for anybody looking to (via Yamato Ramen School said it best):

  • Start a ramen shop with a high chance of success.
  • Study how to operate and manage a ramen restaurant in their country.
  • Master how to make ramen soups, noodles, and toppings from scratch.
  • Develop original and delicious ramen recipes from scratch.
  • Learn a systematic way to operate a ramen restaurant business.
  • Train their staff for existing restaurant or new restaurants.
  • Improve existing ramen or create new menu for their restaurants.
  • Learn how to build a ramen restaurant that will beat the competition.

Unless otherwise noted, you are generally responsible for:

  • Travel fare to Japan.
  • Any sort of necessary visa or documentation to travel to and stay in Japan.
  • Accommodations while you are there.
  • You are responsible for your own meals (like in life).

Here are the top four ramen schools in Japan.

I am providing you with all the information all on one page of the top ramen schools in Japan, so that you can choose the best school to match your budget, criteria/focus of study (type of ramen, price, class size, to the credibility of the instructors).

Listed in alphabetical order
*JPY/USD, .0092 exchange rate as of 6/8/2020

RAJUKU

www.rajuku.com
Instagram.com/ramenschool_rajuku

In their words: “The Rajuku brings some of Tokyo’s best chefs together to teach you everything from recipes to shop management to ingedient sourcing. These are some of Tokyo’s ramen heavyweights, with countless accolades (Top 10 rankings, Michelin Guide recommended shops, many media appearances).”

Location(s)

Curriculum focus

  • They offer a very flexible program which includes not only ramen but appetizers too. In their class you will learn the full range of ramen based dishes from brothless ramen (mazesoba), pork (tonkotsu), beef (gyu), to chicken (tori chintan to paitan), salt (shio), and soy sauce (shoyu) ramen.

Instructors

  • Takeshi Koitani, the owner of Jiraigen Syndicate.
  • Hiroshi Yamaguchi, the owner of Ramen Yamaguchi.
  • Gen Uchida, the owner of Ramen Hajime.
  • Yuuki Isoda, the owner of Antai Noodles.
  • Brian MacDuckston, Ramen Adventures.
Course DetailsDurationPricing
Authentic ramen course12-days420,000 JPY/*$3,877 USD
Basic course6-days210,000 JPY/*$1,939 USD
Application and practice course6-days210,000 JPY/*$1,939 USD
Noodle making1-day30,000 JPY/*$277 USD
One day experience4-hours35,000 JPY/*$323 USD
Tonkotsu special course3-days105,000 JPY/*$969 USD
Izakaya menu1-day30,000 JPY/*$277 USD

Email correspondence

This was the first company I had contacted, so it was prior to all my research although the questions are still pertinent. I should also point out that they had responded back within several hours of my initial email.

  1. Is blogging about your course an issue, so is photography allowed (they answer this in their FAQ, yet I didn’t do my homework, and I asked it):
    Yes, you can take the photos and videos during the course. But we do not allow to use for show the recipes to the 3rd party.
  2. Will the course instruction be on par with a competitive restaurant? For example, are the tonkotsu courses at the level of being able to compete against a restaurant in Kyushu?
    Regarding our recipe/taste, our chef has experience of cooking ramen and run a ramen business almost 20years. We have the pride to making ramen. all ramen shop is Japan especially old shop has history, so I can’t tell you that our ramen is better than the others because we are respect all ramen shops. 

    We have the 10-days master chef course every month.
    Next available master course start from, May 18th, June 15th,July 6th, Aug17th, Sep 7th, Oct 5th, Nov 9th, Dec 7th in 2020.

My take

This school feels like the underdog because it has a more intimate vibe like it is potentially one of the smaller schools, although their overall efforts feel like they are going big, like the big dogs.

If you are a ramen enthusiast/oktaku, you probably have heard of Rajuku because of Brian and Ramen Adventures. It is the reason why I know of the school, and I do not know the extent of his involvement although having him involved with Rajuku in some way, adds a little more weight to this school. On the flipside tho, it could be an opportunity solely based on a financial one, but regardless of what it is, you do have four ramen shop owners that bring the clout. Not to mention, the school has a cool old school vibe since their logo is based on the Run DMC logo.


RAMEN SCHOOL

www.ramenschool.com

In their words: “Hello, I’m Tada, the principal of ramenschool.com.

After quitting my job as a salaryman, I first started my own yakiniku restaurant. Then I started a 24-hour ramen restaurant near Yokohama Station.

It was believed that long-term training was necessary to open a ramen restaurant. However, through the RamenSchool.com`s curriculum, it is possible to open a ramen restaurant in as little as 5 days! This is because I, as someone who runs a ramen restaurant, came up with the knowledge through trial-and-error, and will teach you everything you need to know in a short period of time.

Just a little instruction goes a long way in opening your own ramen restaurant. I will teach you not only how to make ramen, but also how to set prices, use equipment, construct a menu, and how to run the day-to-day without going through the difficulties I went through when I first started. We are looking forward to your participation.

Locations

Curriculum focus

  • A focus on tonkotsu ramen where you will learn about the soup base, oil, producing the pork bone broth, noodles, toppings (soft-boiled eggs, green onions, chashu, and menma).

Instructors

  • Headmaster Tada (no additional information about him on their website other than the above stated information).
Course DetailsDurationPricing
Web basic pro courseN/A9,800 JPY/*$89 USD
Basic pro courseN/A40,000 JPY/*$365 USD
Senior courseN/A49,800 JPY/*$454 USD
Web senior courseN/A49,800 JPY/*$454 USD
Practical course (std)10-days285,000 JPY/*$2,668 USD
Practical course (exp)5-days245,000 JPY/*$2,293 USD

Email correspondence

2-days later, and I still have not heard back from them.

My take

The most affordable of the bunch and the adage of “you get what you pay for” just might be true when it comes to the Ramen School because from the start, they are not the easiest school to understand if you are solely an English speaker.

They scored the ultimate domain name, but the website is a struggle to read and can be a huge distraction, although I’m sure their strengths lie with their classes and ramen knowledge. It does get me wondering if they have this hard of a time communicating basic information via their website, I hope they will be more effective with their in-class communication. Then again, none of that matters when you look at their prices, which is the most affordable out of them all.


TOKYO RAMEN ACADEMY (TRA)

syoku-doujyou.com
Instagram.com/tokyo.ramen.academy

In their words: “Tokyo Ramen Academy is a one-of-a-kind school of ramen. Learn the skills of how to create your original ramen and experience its sales on site during the 15-Day and 7-Day Intensive Master Course at our Ramen Academy. All our instructors are active owners of top ramen restaurants in Japan. This is your chance to learn from the finest. Learn the recipes from the leading restaurants hands-on. And that is not all. We go a step further to teach you the skills to create your own original flavors based on the recipes we provide.”

Locations

Curriculum focus

“We, at the TRA, will cover a wide variety of ramen recipes from classic ones to the latest trends: beginning with Shoyu, Shio, Tonkotsu, Miso and then to more variations such as clear type soup, cloudy type soup, sea food based stocks, dipping noodles, dry noodles and more. We also provide different kinds of recipes of roasted pork which is used as ramen toppings.”

“A special “7-Day Intensive English Course” is also available for those who wish to attend a private one-on-one lesson taught by an English speaking instructor. All subjects from the “15-Day Intensive Master Course” are covered in this “7-Day Intensive English Course”. Fee for the English course is the same as the 15-day course.

This 7-day English course is not set in our regular schedule. Please contact us, if you are interested in taking this course.”

Instructors

  • Hideyuki Ishigami “the King of Ramen”, principal of TRA. “Born in 1972 in Tokyo. A little on dudes background “he triggered numerous trends of ramen, such as “Wakayama Ramen” and “Chicken Paitan Ramen” and has made his name widely known in the ramen industry. He was also one of the first executive directors along with Mr. Y. Ishinabe at “Super Chef Club” which is an organization consisted of 100+ top chefs of Japan.” Some of his accolades are “two-time winner of “King of Ramen Competition TV Championship”(3rd/4th ),” and he’s a ramen critic/commentator, food writer, and food producer.
  • Additional instructors:
    • Hideki Futemma, Restaurant owner.
    • Keiichi Machida, Trainer to consultant.
    • Tomoharu Shono, Owner of Menya Shono
    • Hiroyuki Kanehara, Owner of Ichiban Ichiban.
    • Juan Watanabe, Consultant and CEO of Watanabe Style, Co.
    • Shigeyuki Akasako, President of Muteppou Group
    • Masaru Isobe, Caterer, instructor, to consultant.
    • Masahiro Ito, Owner of 4 restaurants.
    • Hiromasa Shimizu, Owner of Oudouya
Course DetailsDurationPricing
Live-in style master course.7-days480,000 JPY/*$4,380 USD
Intense ramen making from scratch.15-days480,000 JPY/*$4,380 USD

Email correspondence

TRA responded the quickest and within hours of my initial email, and they do not slack with their responses although when it comes to their English, it is really bad. Whoever is making the changes to their website, the English is even worse via their email correspondence.

  1. How frequently are classes conducted?
    A1 The all international student take 7-days (one to one) class by English 2018-2020 seasons. But the Japanese government don’t accept international tourists by COVID-19 now.
  2. Are the recipes learned a very BASIC recipe, or is this a recipe that is competitive enough to compete against an Ikkousha, Ichiran, Ippudo, or any other Hakata style ramen-ya?
    A2 If you hope to complete copy FC Hakata style you can learn many types Tonkotsu, Ichiran, Ikkousha, Ippudo, etc because the almost overseas students hope same your order. And the top chef will teach all and detailed how to cooking, recipes, ingredients, etc. No worries the our students get Michelin awards in LA! We went to his restaurant! Then the our 5 students(their ramen restaurant) got Michelin awards! We have many many experiences and results , you shouldn’t trust information on the website by other ramen school. We are real No.1 ramen school!

    The many students had opened Ramen restaurant & gets their dreams in EURO area, Canada & USA, Australia, Asia ……more!

    We have many experiences that we taught about Ramen for 39 countries students by now.
    The our 4 students got 5 award of Michelin guide. They were amateurs, but they are Michelin owner chefs now!

    We received good sound from LA that the our student got California Michelin awards in 2019!
    The his ramen restaurant’s name is “Okiboru”.
    They were amateurs before enter to our school.

    We can arrange day of starting for special 1 on 1 (man to man) 7days class for only you.
    The all international students selected 7 days class in 2018-2019 seasons.

    We can arrange/customize special personal class(one on one/man to man) for you only too and more rich contents than 15 days class (average) like a private lessons.

    We can teach about all of the Ramen for your original order & our recommendations.

    We will teach desk lectures(umami, our formula about ramen) in 1st day, how to cooking & for preparation, detailed & turned for techniques, various & large variety of recipes (traditional Japanese style & modern Tokyo style in 20 around recipes over in 7days ! *You will be able to arrange to your original ramen so easy after school) & more more ! in our special original ramen kitchen with our teacher(top chef) in everyday by English.

    The last day lecture is simulation like a trial ramen restaurant that you will cook & preparation, select materials,  thinking for food cost, making recipe for your original ramen, & last paper test for graduation!
    * include free accommodation,ingredients etc.
    *480,000 yen(a person) tax (10%)
    no additional charges.
    I think better this class for you.

My take

They have some impressive looking facilities, and their correspondence and website is struggle to understand although I’m sure they have one of the top schools based upon the ramen shops that they are associated with.

There is one thing that most Japanese companies typically lack in which is marketing, but Tokyo Ramen Academy is one of the very few that understands it. It is also maybe the reason why they appear to be one of the biggest or most dedicated to being a ramen school. From the potential involvement of leading ramen shops owners, a large commercial kitchen space, to a properly done website makes me think that this school has got to be one of, if not the leading ramen school.


YAMATO RAMEN SCHOOL

www.yamatonoodle.com
Instagram.com/yamato_noodle_school

In their words: “Intensive RAMEN training course for startups and food business professionals across the world, build a ramen restaurant that will beat the competition.

Having conducted intensive courses over 20 years, we have more than 1,000 graduates, many of whom started and run popular ramen shops across the world. The courses are designed for those who want to create ramen restaurants and businesses that will survive and thrive in this competitive industry. We now conduct our ramen class at 3 locations. Tokyo/Japan, Kagawa/Japan, and Singapore”

Locations

Curriculum focus

  • Day 1, noodle making
  • Day 2, preparation of base sauce, flavored oil, and toppings.
  • Day 3, preparation for base broths.
  • Day 4, management lecture and blending of ramen soups.
  • Day 5, plating techniques and final presentation.

Instructors

  • Kaoru Fujii, President-Yamato Mfg. Co., Ltd. “With over 40 years having worked with restaurant owners, chefs, and those with no experiences and run his businesses for the same period, he has gained his expertise in management, operation, and culinary skills in his way. He shares Yamato methods / ways of how to build and develop successful restaurants. He’s one of the most prominent masters of this field in the world.”
  • Jason Lim, the owner of Ramen Lab. “Graduated from Yamato Noodle School more than 10 years ago, Chef Jason started his ramen restaurant and has been kept abreast in the latest techniques and know-how in the ramen kitchen. He has provided consulting services to numerous ramen and udon restaurants in many parts of the world and developed great knowledge and experiences in noodle making, soup preparation, menu development and restaurant operations. He will shares his expertise, based on actual experiences and learning in the course.”
Course DetailsDurationPricing
Singapore (English)5-days5,250 SGD/*$3,793 USD
Tokyo, Japan (Japanese language only)5-days423,800 JPY/*$3,952 USD
Kagawa, Japan (Japanese language only)5-days423,800 JPY/*3,952 USD

Email correspondence

It did take over a day to have them respond, but I should have expected their level of response based upon their website because their email correspondence is also TOP-NOTCH (all responses included below):

  1. How frequently are classes conducted? If I sign up now, do you have multiple classes during June and July that I can attend? or do you only 1 or 2 classes per month? or bi-annually?
    The schedules are listed and updated on the following page: Fees / Location / Schedule. Because of the changing situations with COVID-19, we’ve been constantly checking what the governments decide to do to see if we can reopen our schools in Tokyo, Kagawa, and Singapore. Without COVID-19, we conduct our classes once a month at one location. So, there may be 3 classes in a month, one at our Kagawa, another at Tokyo, and one class conducted in Singapore.”
  2. Your Instagram account is in English, but on your website, you only list one of your classes to be in English. Does this mean I have to fly to Singapore in order to take a class taught in English?
    All our classes in Japan (Kagawa and Tokyo) are taught in Japanese because most of students we have in these courses are Japanese. When we receive students who speak different languages, we ask them to arrange interpreters. For certain languages like English and Chinese, we can arrange internally for a fee.”
  3. You partially address this in your FAQ, but when it comes to what is learned in class about tonkotsu, are the recipes learned a very BASIC recipe, or is this a recipe that is competitive enough to compete against an Ikkousha, Ichiran, Ippudo, or any other Hakata style ramen-ya? (I know this is somewhat subjective).
    Our courses are based on making a unique bowl(s) of ramen from scratch. Though we also teach basics (such as basic light shoyu ramen, based on chicken and fish broth), the main purpose of our courses are helping each student develop his or her own ramen from scratch. So, if one wants to create a ramen that’s similar in a direction of Ichiran but with some unique twist, we help him do that. Because we’ve conducted our classes for more than 15 years, we have over 1,000 of unique ramen recipes accumulated in our database. And, these recipes and our techniques are evolving as we conduct more classes with students with different ideas. Though other schools may teach you basic recipes or copies of famous ramen shops’ dishes, our approach is to help create something unique that can compete in this fiercely and growing competitive industry. We have the methods, facilities, and HRs to do that. But, because of this, we limit each class to 8 people.

My take

Yamato is a large producer of noodles/noodle machinery, so they seem to have the most resources when it comes to their website, correspondence, and possibly throughout their level of instruction, you would receive in their courses.

From the start, the Yamato website is probably one of the best laid out/informative websites of them all, and you are not going to have to struggle with any of the English grammar. I expect that from Yamato who is one of the leading producers of noodles and noodle machines in the world. The only thing I would be skeptical of is the level of instruction you would get on ramen broths because I know they have the noodles down, but I’m not sure if their capabilities are across the board (I wrote this prior to their email response, my mind has changed since then). The only thing that addresses that concern is that Yamato has conducted classes over the last 15 years, with 1,000 graduates who have gone off to run popular ramen shops around the world.


My conclusions, and who I am leaning towards choosing.

I’m going to reach out to all the companies for additional information, but this is where I think many of them stand, along with a few things I’m not sure about.

Image courtesy of Rajuku Ramen school.
  • Yamato looks to have the largest facility with TRA right behind it.
  • The smallest and most “grassroots” school seems to be the Ramen School.
  • Rajuku and Yamato have the best Instagram accounts to get a better idea of what they are all about.
  • Yamato has the most impressive customer service for English speakers, but you will have to pay for an interpreter if you are not a Japanese speaker.
  • TRA claims that 5 of their students have Michelin “awards.” What sort of award is that? The Michelin Guide (Bib Gourmand/Plate)?
  • It seems as though Rajuku and TRA have the instructors with the most clout, but I have no idea how involved they are.
  • TRA has only 5 students per class which seems like a manageable number, but you will have to look into class sizes yourself.
  • My biggest concern is if you will be learning generic recipes, or will they be recipes on par with competing restaurants (the question I had asked in my email correspondence).
  • I was leaning towards Rajuku and TRA, but after getting responses back via the email correspondence, I really do have to consider Yamato (they are the most put together of all the schools).

If you have been to one of these schools.

I would like to hear from you, and what your experience were like, so message me, or leave a comment.

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