Introducing Ramen Hero ramen bowls. Authentic Arita porcelain, crafted in Japan.
A great ramen deserves a great bowl. That’s why we’re pleased to announce exclusive Ramen Hero bowls, made by Marubun Co., Ltd of Japan. We took their “ Ultimate Ramen Bowl” and customized it with an updated design and Ramen Hero graphics.
Based on our Ramen Hero master chef’s favorite ramen bowl, everything about it is created to improve your overall ramen experience- from its shape, materials, to available color schemes and designs. Choose the one that best suits your taste- or even color coordinate with your favorite ramen soup!
In this article, we’ll discuss ramen bowl design and Arita porcelain with Mr. Kenji Shinohara and Mr. Shota Shinohara of Marubun, and Mr. Shinsuke Iwanaga of Ojiyama kiln - all of whom were instrumental in creating this one of a kind ramen bowl.
What is Arita porcelain anyway?
Arita is one of the most famous porcelains available in Japan. However, it’s hard for even Japanese people to explain what makes it so special. So we asked our experts.
Shota: "When crafting bowls you can either use pottery or porcelain. Pottery is made from solid clay, and porcelain is made from crushed stone (porcelain stone) into clay. In general, porcelain has a higher firing temperature, resulting in a harder product. "
Generally, the firing temperature of pottery is 800 to 1200℃, while for porcelain it’s 1250 to 1300℃. This is due to the difference in the proportion of vitreous components such as silica stone and feldspar contained in the raw materials. The more vitreous components , the higher the required baking temperature but also the hardness of the final product will be greater.
Shinsuke: "Arita porcelain can be made thin because the” biscuit” can be baked hard. It is easy to make thin, light and durable vessels with a shape that suits modern lifestyles. Compared to pottery, Arita porcelain tends to be more expensive because of the many processes, but it also has many benefits."
What makes Arita porcelain so unique?
Shinsuke: "In traditional crafts, one person oversees the entire process from start to finish” , but Arita porcelain is made by dividing the labor. One person makes the clay, while another makes the biscuits, another fires the porcelain, another makes paints and glazes, and so on. Each craftsperson has total ownership of their part of the process, so quality control is exceptional."
Shota: "Arita porcelain is characterized by its versatility. There are various techniques and designs, from gorgeous ones like Imariware to more casual ones that suit everyday lifestyles, such as simple dyeing. Arita porcelain can be used to make for anything- from national treasures to basic daily necessities. "
The history of Arita porcelain
Let's dig a little deeper into its history to gain a better understanding of how Arita porcelain came to be.
Shota: "When Hideyoshi Toyotomi sent troops to Korea, a group of Yi Sam-pyeong potters were brought to Japan. When they were looking for raw materials to make porcelain there, they found good quality materials in Izumiyama near Arita. This begins the history of Arita porcelain, but also the beginning of the history of Japanese porcelain in general. "
Shinsuke: "The general view is that Korean potters were willing to come to Japan rather than being forcibly brought. Since the status and income of craftsmen was guaranteed in Japan, they probably went to Japan with their families and relatives. They were summoned by the lord and wandered around the neighborhood looking for raw materials for porcelain. Until then, raw materials had been found in several places, but they quickly became depleted. Izumiyama had enough raw materials, so they built a kiln in the nearby Tengu Valley and started baking porcelain. This is described in the literature as far back as 1616, and it is said to be the origin of Arita porcelain. "
Kenji: "The export by the Dutch East India Company during the Edo period played a major role in the development of Arita porcelain. The Dutch trading house is located in Hirado, not far from Arita, and Arita porcelain was the focus of attention as an export product to European royal aristocrats. At its peak, 700,000 pieces of Arita porcelain were exported annually, and during the Edo period, a total of 7 million pieces of Arita porcelain were exported, gaining fame in Europe. "
Let’s talk about Marubun and their role in Arita porcelain?
Now that we have a deeper understanding of Arita porcelain, let's talk about the Marubun company who created our special Ramen Hero bowls based on their “ultimate ramen bowl”
Kenji: "Marubun was founded in 1891. Initially, we were engaged in overglaze painting and sales of pottery in Kamikohira, Arita Town. Overglaze painting is to paint on white porcelain that has been baked. Arita porcelain has been a division of labor since that time. At Marubun, the porcelain purchased was overglaze painted and sold.
In 1918, we started the Arita porcelain wholesale business all over Japan, and in 1931 we expanded our sales channels to the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria Sakhalin.
We established Shinohara Shoten Co., Ltd. in 1952, specializing in the sale of Arita porcelain. Then, in 1988, it was changed to Marubun Co., Ltd. and continues to the present day. "
Shota: "Arita porcelain traders are broadly divided into trading companies and manufacturers. Marubun is a trading company of Arita porcelain. The role of the trading company is to purchase products made by the manufacturer potter and sell them to various places.
However, nowadays, with the spread of online sales, there are more opportunities for manufacturers to sell directly. As a result, I have come to think that the function as a trading company that simply purchases from manufacturers and sells them will no longer be necessary. Therefore, Marubun is now focusing on product development capabilities. We develop products together wi
th the potters based on the needs of our customers and the experience we have cultivated as a trading company. We also advertise the products we make in this way using our own media and the sales network we have expanded so far. In this way, we try to add value to our products both when we make them and when we sell them.
"What is the Marabun doing specifically with Arita porcelain?
Shota: "Arita porcelain has technology but is behind in terms of design. Therefore, we are creating new products in collaboration with the latest designers in the world. We, a trading company, cooperate with the potters and the designer to launch and sell overseas. Arita porcelain has cultivated a variety of decoration techniques, from gorgeous works of art to casual everyday tableware. That is why we can respond to the tastes of overseas designers.
We also received advice from Yasue Kunieda, a pioneer of table coordinators(in Japan, the person who directs the dining space is called the table coordinator), regarding the added value of sales. Until then, Arita porcelain ware was often just lined up and piled up on the sales floor. We have come to suggest how to use tableware and what it will look like at home in the table scene. Yasue Kunieda died in 2011, but Marubun still inherits her spirit. "
How did Marabun create the Ramen Hero bowl?
Ramen Hero’s “Honkaku” bowl is based on Marabun’s “Ultimate Ramen Bowl” product. Let’s take a look at what makes it so special- including its process, functionality and design.
Kenji: "Our goal was simple: to create the best ramen bowl available for home use-one that would make even instant noodles taste better. Though pretty patterns and graphics are the first thing people usually notice, it’s the design of the bowl that really makes it so special.
Shinsuke :"The shape of this ramen bowl is designed not just to be attractive but to actually improve the taste, aroma and overall ramen experience. For example, the edge of the Ramen Hero bowl has been slimmed and at an angle to make sipping soup directly from the bowl easier and more enjoyable than ordinary bowls.
We also designed the bowl to be easier to handle, so anyone can hold it with one just hand. The base can be cradled easily and the base groove is rounded so it’s easier to wash. Similarly, we wanted our bowl to be lightweight. The unique properties of Arita porcelain make it possible for the bowl to be thinner, lighter yet also hard and very durable.”
But tableware doesn’t only have to perform well, it also has to look beautiful on the table.
Shinsuke "When we brought a prototype of our bowl to Nissin Foods Holdings Co.,Ltd, it was met with some surprise criticism, especially from the Japanese housewife perspective. We thought so much about the design, but we had to ensure our bowl was aesthetically appealing when used in real life.
There are so many ramen bowls in Japan, but not one packed with so much thought into design and function. But how did this ultimate ramen bowl come about?
Shinsuke: "A Japanese TV program came up with a plan to make something unique to Arita porcelain. At that time, we were told that there was no ramen bowl for home use. In many cases, udon bowls were generally used but didn’t maximize the deliciousness of ramen. At that time, ramen was already so popular that it was a national dish, and instant noodles were often eaten at home. We wanted our bowl to make even chicken ramen noodles taste better- Nissin being the most popular chicken ramen at the time."
How will the ultimate ramen bowl change family meals?
Shota: "Needless to say, Japanese people of all ages love ramen. It is not uncommon for the whole family to eat ramen together at home on weekends. Currently, there are about 120 types of ultimate ramen bowls, and about 300 types overall historically. Even if you don't usually care about tableware, you can experience the fun of choosing a bowl and the taste that changes depending on the bowl because there is such a design for your favorite ramen bowl. "
Certainly, because it is fun to choose, you will be more interested in tableware. There is only one ramen bowl design launched by Ramen Hero this time, but in the future we would like you to experience the fun of choosing more designs.
What is the ultimate ramen bowl in the future?
In this way, the ultimate ramen bowl has created a new ramen experience. Ramen itself is evolving every day itself, but what about this ramen bowl?
Shota: "The shape of the ultimate ramen bowl will not change. We will continue to increase the variety of patterns as before. However, you can make a bowl for professional use according to your preference. Depending on the soup and noodles, the shape of the bowl is different, but we already have many types. According to your request, you can make a bowl with an original design based on those shapes. "
Shinsuke: "Since we are not mass-producing using machines, we can handle such detail oriented orders and small lot orders, which is one of the attractions of Arita porcelain. It is possible to meet the needs of the times by manual work by craftsmen. "
As a ramen bowl for home use, you will continue to make it as a complete form, just as if it were the ultimate. On the other hand, Arita porcelain will surely respond to new ramen experiences by ramen chefs.
Arita porcelain in the USA
Launching our special Ramen Hero bowls and tableware, also gives Americans a chance to experience the beauty and benefits of Arita porcelain. What are some other things you want our customers in the USA to know about Arita porcelain?
Shota: "Arita porcelain has a technology that has been cultivated for over 400 years. Like the ultimate ramen bowl, we are particular about the details using that technology. But we are just as committed to the aesthetics, because when the food looks amazing - people enjoy themselves more..”
By combining legendary Arita porcelain qualitys with Marubun’ high standards in manufacturing, design and looks, we think our new line of bowls and tableware will make your Ramen Hero experience that much better!