In Los Angeles, an Exhibition Zeroes In on the Ramen Bowl
Eating ramen is a multisensory experience: the fragrant steam coming off of the broth, the slurping sound of enjoying the noodles, the cozy heat felt upon touching the bowl. The latter object is the subject of an exhibition called “The Art of the Ramen Bowl” (March 18–July 5) that’s on view at the Los Angeles location of Japan House, an initiative with additional hubs in London and São Paulo that was created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to foster awareness and appreciation of the country through a diverse range of programming. Graphic designer Taku Satoh and writer and editor Mari Hashimoto, deputy director of Tokyo’s Eisei Bunko Museum, curated the show, which was first mounted at Gallery Design 1953 inside Tokyo’s Matsuya Ginza department store in 2014. (The presentation at Japan House L.A. is its first in the United States.) The show features 30 donburi, the porcelain receptacles in which ramen is traditionally served, and renge, the compact, teardrop-shaped spoons that often accompany them, made by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers. Here, the dishware is positioned as vessels for not only the beloved dish, but for history, culture, and self-expression as well.