A visit to the mushroom kingdom to see if 600,000 fans could possibly be wrong, and also to eat some amazing ramen.
Miso soup is pretty much the most archetypal element of Japanese cuisine. The only legitimate competition it has for that title is rice, which barely qualifies as cooking since it’s just a matter of boiling the raw ingredient.
So when someone boasts that they sell “the best-selling miso soup in all of Japan,” we, and our stomachs, take notice.
Located in the town of Otaki in Hokkaido, a little over an hour from Shin Chitose Airport, is Kinoko no Okoku. The name translates to “Mushroom Kingdom.” While some hard-core gamers might mistake it for a shrine to Nintendo’s Super Mario series, it’s actually an emporium of mushroom-focused foodstuffs, and even when we rolled up at 11 in the morning, the parking lot was already full of fungi fans’ cars.
▼ Note the giant miso soup bowls on either side of the entrance steps.
Quickly making our way through flurries of snow (this is the same prefecture where the Sapporo Snow Festival is held, after all), we saw crowds of hungry visitors lined up in front of the food stalls and souvenir shop registers.
First on our list, though, was our reason for making the trip to the mushroom kingdom: the mushroom miso soup (or kinoko misoshiru, if you’re ordering in Japanese). According to Kinoko no Okoku, this is Japan’s best-selling restaurant miso soup, with roughly 600,000 bowls served every year, despite the fact