Have you ever wondered about the meanings behind the patterns on ramen bowls?
But I have never heard or read about others discuss this topic, even though, everyone has seen these patterns before!
This is not a popular topic, but there are some unknown secrets of these ramen bowl patterns.
A dragon has been an icon symbolic of Chinese emperors.
Ancient people believed that a dragon brings rain which help crops grow.
Historically, only emperors could use this pattern. A selective few high-ranking officials were allowed to use the pattern, but the number of claws of the dragon had to be “4" instead of “5" to distinguish the difference between the real dragon used by the emperor and others.
In ancient China, a phoenix was the most honorable bird and people believed that it brought good luck.
Phenix has been a symbol of the empress.
The lightning pattern is the most recognized pattern on ramen bowls. This square swirl pattern came from lightning which represents an appreciation and awe of nature.
This is a design made of two Chinese characters (喜) stuck on side-by-side, "happiness". This design originally came from Chinese marriage ceremonies and it represents the bride and groom.
Seigaiha means blue ocean waves. This pattern is known to symbolize luck. The long expanding blue ocean waves are symbolic of long-term happiness and peace.
This hand drawn brush stroke on the rim of ramen bowls give off an energetic and spirited feeling. Originally, it is a symbol of nirvana, truth, Buddhist nature, and the whole universe in a zen world.
The symbol of Japan through the famous Fuji Mountain is also commonly drawn or printed on the bottom of ramen bowls.
In some ramen restaurants, in order to show gratitude to their customers, ramen bowls have some message on the bottom of their ramen bowls for customers to see once they finish their meal. These are some examples...
Full of happiness
One bowl one heart
Excellent luck (大吉)
Isn't it incredible that each pattern has its own different and original meanings?
Another topic I would like to touch on is the colours of ramen bowls. You must have seen so many colors and design of ramen bowls. I will introduce how bowls are chosen by restaurants.
Now here comes the good part…
You need to pick the color of ramen bowls based on the soup's color.
Basically, if the soup is transparent, it is better to pick white or off white to show that the soup is clear and fresh.
And if the colour of the soup is cloudy, you should pick a darker color bowl in order to emphasize the soup's richness and creaminess.
Shio (salt) Ramen:
Shio ramen has a transparent soup base, so a white-colored bowl should be chosen. White-based bowls that have subtle blue patterns or simple plain white bowls are commonly used for shio ramen.
Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen:
Shoyu ramen soup is brownish but transparent, I recommend bowls with a white centre to show the soup's transparency. White bowls with a red rim or red embellishments is commonly used for shoyu ramen.
Miso ramen has a rich and thick soup, so you should pick deep-colored bowls. Red, dark red, brown and black bowls match beautifully with miso ramen.
A solid colour should be chosen without many or any patterns on the bowl in order to accentuate the miso ramen's rich, thick soup and toppings.
Tonkotsu ramen has a creamy light color but cloudy soup, so it is better to pick a dark color. Black or dark navy bowls are most suitable for tonkotsu ramen.
Gekikara (Chili hot) Ramen:
The soup of chili ramen is usually red, so white bowls help the bright red colour to stand out.
When you pick right one, ramen bowls will help make your ramen stand out, look tasty, and be presented like a piece of art.