When I returned to Toronto in late 2011, the ramen restaurant boom had just blasted off from the launch pad. And over the next number of years, new places serving one of Japan's gaishoku staples started to pop up like mushrooms and then multiple branches of those new places which includes a few this year. I've happily indulged in my ramen hobby with buddies to the point that any regret that I can no longer get a hearty bowl of the stuff in the source country really doesn't exist anymore. But let me say that I will still get at least two bowls of the stuff into my stomach when I visit Tokyo again.
It has also gotten to the point that I can no longer imagine a time when I was not able to get a bowl of the noodles. Before Toronto became Ramen Central in the 2010s, basically all we had was either Cup O' Noodles and, as you can see above, Sapporo Ichiban (although there was a nascent attempt at a ramen shop back in the 1980s called Yokohama which didn't last too long). But despite the plethora of ramen shops in the GTA, in the name of total disclosure, I still partake in the instant stuff occasionally for lunch. Yup, I do ingest all of the MSG and chemicals unrepentantly.
All that appetizing ramen talk is to help introduce a song by Osaka-based Sharam-Q（シャ乱Q）. "Ramen Daisuki Koike-san no Uta" (The Song of Ramen-Loving Mr. Koike) was the first track in the band's debut album from September 1992, "Sakuretsu! Henachoko Punch"（炸裂!へなちょこパンチ...Explosion! Greenhorn Punch）.
Now, my knowledge of Sharam-Q and its flamboyant leader, Tsunku（つんく）, first started filtering in when I landed back in Japan in late 1994, so I'd had no idea that the band had existed since 1988. And in fact, my knowledge of their ramen entry bubbled in when Tsunku and company had actually released an updated version of this song, "Shin Ramen Daisuki Koike-san no Uta"（新・ラーメン大好き小池さんの唄...The New Song of Ramen-Loving Mr. Koike）as their 19th single in March 2000. It peaked at No. 23 on Oricon.
But I haven't come across this new version on YouTube as of yet, so let's go with the original flavour, so to speak. In all honesty, "Ramen Daisuki Koike-san no Uta" in either of its incarnations has never particularly spoken to me..."Zurui Onna"（ズルイ女）is still the big Sharam-Q winner for me, but it's interesting to watch that ancient music video above to see the band looking unlike their glam rock presence when I first got to know them, and making like urban rock-funksters. Plus, I gotta say that I don't think I ever heard a funk song paying tribute to ramen.
According to the J-Wiki write-up on "Ramen", Koike-san was actually a character who made appearances in a couple of manga that I knew "Obake no Q-Taro"（オバケのQ太郎...Q-Taro The Ghost）and "Doraemon"（ドラえもん）by the late artist Fujio Fujiko（藤子二不雄）, and indeed the fellow did love his home-cooked ramen.
Tsunku took care of the lyrics while the whole band came up with the melody which partially pays homage to the ending theme of the old anime "Himitsu no Akko-chan"（ひみつのアッコちゃん...The Secrets of Akko-chan）, the go-go-boot-kicking "Suki Suki Song"（すきすきソング...The Love Love Song） by Hisashi Inoue, Morihisa Yamamoto and Asei Kobayashi（井上ひさし・山元護久・小林亜星）.
Kobushi Factory（こぶしファクトリー...Magnolia Factory）is a Hello Project group that Marcos V. has already spoken about, and it turns out that their first major single was "Dosukoi! kenkyo ni daitan / Ramen daisuki koizumi-san no uta / Nen ni wa nen (Nen-iri Ver.)"（ドスコイ!ケンキョにダイタン/ラーメン大好き小泉さんの唄/念には念（念入りVer.）...Dosukoi! Humble but Bold/A song of ramen loving girl Ms.Koizumi/Be Double Sure (with ”NEN” Ver.)）from September 2015, which as you can see, includes their own version of the Sharam-Q song (aside from the changing of the character's name from Koike to Koizumi. The Factory is one of Tsunku's aidoru groups under the Hello Project banner and "Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta" kept plenty of funk. The single peaked at No. 3.
The reason for the name change was that it was the theme song for the Fuji-TV late Saturday-night drama "Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta" based on the manga by Naru Narumi（鳴見なる）about a teenage ramen super fan.
|Yup, I put rice in my ramen.|
Don't get uppity with me!