Nagasaki Champon Noodles

Nagasaki Champon Noodles

Japan was isolated between 1639 and 1854 due to its foreign relations policy at the time. However, it was not completely closed, as there were four seaports that were allowed to stay open for trade. These were Nagasaki, Fukuoka (Tsushima), Kagoshima (Satsuma) and Hokkaido (Ezo). Within these, Nagasaki’s was the only seaport that was managed by the Tokugawa government. Even today, people can easily recognize Nagasaki’s deeply seeded European influences from the past.

Such a unique historical background explains why Nagasaki attracts many students from all over the world. In the late 19th century, in order to serve highly nutritious yet economical meals for a large population of Chinese students, Champon was created.  Champon is based on a Chinese dish in Fujian cuisine– menmian. It is made by frying meat, seafood and vegetables with lard; a soup made with chicken and pig bones is then added. Finally noodles are added to the soup, and the whole thing is let to stew for several minutes. Voila, ready to serve!

Champon was indeed a great chance for young students who missed their home cooking to have a meal with rich taste and plenty of vegetables.

Heijun Ching came up with this Champon recipe at his Chinese restaurant called “Shikairou”, which still exists in Nagasaki city today. Champon quickly became very popular. 1907 publication “Nagasaki Kenkiyo” indicated that more than a dozen of restaurants in the city were already serving Champon and that local and international students were loving it! The origin of the name itself isn’t clear, but it may have come from a Chinese word.

There are many franchised Champon restaurants in all over Japan. Nagasaki Champon packages with noodles and soup are also sold at supermarket and grocery stores. You can add seafood, meat, and plenty of vegetables to make your own delicious Champon.


Photo by Tomo.Yun

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