Like Yonezawa, Kitakata is a small mountain town that specializes in shoyu ramen. The only difference: Kitakata IS just a ramen town. It's almost as if a ramen park took over the city! There's so much to choose from, each with its own flair, and a ramen guide you can pick up at the station tells you everything you need to know. With my backpack feeling like 300 pounds and blisters ripening on my feet, I almost decided not to come. But since I'm doing it for the love, my choice to come was definitely rewarded.
The first ever ramen-ya to make Kitakata Ramen famous was Gen Rai Ken. They feature a Kitakata style shoyu ramen made entirely with chicken stock. It was damn good!
Shirakawa is a town best known for their pure mountain spring water. It's so pure that every ramen-ya in the city makes their own noodle with it. After a long walk through the wilderness (don't ask), I finally settled upon Menshou--a rare restaurant that stays open even on Mondays. Similar to Kitakata style, this assari-kei ramen is made from both tonkotsu and torigara.
This is the dude I ended up having to sit next to on the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. All I have to say is thank goodness for ipods. I don't know what I would have done without it.
I'm starting to get sleepy like that guy above. I think it's time to get some zzz's. I still have one day left on my rail pass so it'll be off to Sano in the morning. More local trains! Hopefully it'll be as easy as today.