Japanese “Sacred” Noodles Have Religious Sutra Printed on Them

A Japanese restaurant in the city of Ota, Gunma Prefecture, has gone viral for selling a unique type of noodles with a complete Buddhist Sutra printed on them.

Nittanosho Kanzantei, a small eatery in Ota, has been getting a lot of attention for a product that is not even on the menu. Its so-called “sacred noodles” are only available as a souvenir, for cooking at home or giving away as a gift, but they’re so eye-catching that people can’t seem to stop talking about them. Cut into thick, rectangular sheets, these unique noodles feature large, caligraphy-like characters printed on them with edible ingredients that remain visible even after cooking. So you can actually read your food as you’re eating it!

Photo: Nittanosho Kanzantei

A whole pack of sacred noodles actually features the complete Heart Sutra, one of Buddhism’s most sacred texts. At many temples, the Heart Sutra is often given out to visitors in paper form, but Nittanosho Kanzantei decided that it works just as well on noodles.

The Heart Sutra deals with the concept of emptiness and is often chanted by monks at funerals or memorial services, or as a meditative practice at temples. That’s the main reason why Nittanosho Kanzantei doesn’t serve its sacred noodles to patrons, it’s a dish that is best consumed in the privacy of one’s home.

Photo: Nittanosho Kanzantei

A pack of sacred noodles contains the entire 260-character Heart Sutra, as well as a booklet that features the full text with furigana letters to help read the most difficult kanji, and a modern language translation guide for those unfamiliar with sutras.

According to the Nittanosho Kanzantei website, the thick sacred noodles are “printed” using a mixture of bamboo charcoal and edible caramel coloring derived from wheat. Although the characters fade a little after cooking, they are still perfectly visible and readable. Although boiling is possible, the restaurant recommends simmering them with seasonable vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions and taro.

Photo: Nittanosho Kanzantei

Sacred noodles are reportedly only sold in Gunma Prefecture. A three-serving pack comes with dashi seasoning for added taste and costs 1,620 yen (about $12).

For more unusual Japanese foods, check out this miso soup served with a soft-serve ice cream cone, or these nightmarish alien dumplings. Looking for something to drink? This dumpling-flavored soda might make you throw up.