If eating noodles first thing in the morning doesn’t wake you up, the sound of other diners slurping certainly will. Soba buckwheat noodles and udon (chunky white wheat noodles) date back to the Nara (710-794) and Heian (794-1185) periods; ramen was introduced from China in the 1880s.

In Shikoku, famous for its Sanuki udon, noodles are eaten all day — including for breakfast. A good place to experience this noodle breakfast is Oniyanma, a shack near Tokyo's Gotanda Station that serves Sanuki udon with a light iriko (dried sardine) broth.

The U-shaped counter overlooks an open kitchen where noodles are boiled and battered ingredients are turned to tempura in a hot bath of oil. Roughly 10 customers can squeeze into the restaurant, and most mornings you'll be slurping shoulder to shoulder. Diners frequent Oniyanma for its unassuming, chewy noodles and the variety of toppings.