Though many contest its origins, historical credit for the noodle must be given to Asia, where in China, a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was found by Chinese scientists at the Lajia archaeological site over a decade ago.

The modern-day culinary staple was only introduced to Japan during the Middle Ages, when Buddhist missionaries brought flour back to Japan from China. Soon, noodles became an essential part of the Japanese diet, second only to rice.

If you’re traveling to Japan, you will surely encounter a wide variety of noodle-eating opportunities. To make sure you can talk the talk, we’ve given you the breakdown of some of the country’s most popular varieties so that you can order — and eat — like a local.


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