Village Ramen Shop, Only Open Wednesdays, Is Still Beloved; Eatery Draws Customers Despite Offering Just Two Flavors

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kumatsugi Ramen served at a ramen shop in Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture

YABU, Hyogo — Kumatsugi Ramen, in the mountainous area in Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture, is only open on Wednesdays. There are only two items on the menu: soy sauce ramen and miso ramen, and just 10 servings in total are available per day. But these “simple and good” flavors have made Kumatsugi beloved by locals.

The shop is operated by the community council of Kumatsugi District, who have set up some tables and chairs in the entranceway of the former Kumatsugi Elementary School, a building which also houses the council’s offices. Both soy sauce and miso ramen are priced at ¥500. Ingredients such as Chinese-style barbecued pork, pickled bamboo shoots and wakame seaweed are procured from local food stores and other places.

Of course, these are not the kinds of flavors that appeal to ramen connoisseurs. But a 63-year-old local woman who visits the shop on an almost weekly basis said: “It has a simple taste that everyone can enjoy, from children to the elderly. I love it because it tastes like Showa-era ramen.”

According to Toshihisa Tanaka, 65, secretary general of the council, there are few restaurants in the area, leaving climbers and tourists with no places to stop in. In 2020, he opened a restaurant serving retort-pouch pasta and other dishes. Last year, the menu was changed to ramen and the restaurant opened during spring and autumn.

Preparing the ramen is the responsibility of Tanaka, who has experience in managing a guesthouse, and a 59-year-old staff member. They say that several people, mainly local senior citizens, visit the shop every week, partly because those people play ground golf on the school’s playground. But the shop hopes to attract mountain climbers and other customers in the future. In order to make more people aware of the shop, it has been open on Wednesdays since April this year and will be open year-round in the future.

The Kumatsugi area is located near the Hachibuse Highlands and Hyonosen ski resort where more than 200 guesthouses once operated.

“We want the ramen shop to be a place not only for local residents to socialize in, but also for tourists to visit,” Tanaka said. “This is a guesthouse district, and we want to show guests our hospitality through our ramen.”

The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.