Crafty Kindai University students acquire taste for business through ramen shop

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Natsuki Nishi, second from left, and Ryotaro Okuno, third from left, pose in front of their ramen shop at Kindai University in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture.

HIGASHI-OSAKA, Osaka — Students of Kindai University have opened a ramen eatery on an Osaka Prefecture campus as part of a project in which the university offers students the opportunity to experience the process of starting up their own businesses.

A pair of Faculty of Agriculture students — Natsuki Nishi, a junior in the Fisheries Department, and Ryotaro Okuno, a junior in the Agricultural Science Department — have teamed up to open Kindai Ramen Venture “Kindai wo Susuranka” in a food court space of the Blossom Cafe at the Higashi-Osaka campus on Oct. 4.

Nishi and Okuno expressed their eagerness, saying they wish to convey to all young people that there is nothing they can’t do.

After learning of an eatery vacancy at the food court around June this year, Nishi, an aspiring entrepreneur, approached the university for permission to take over that space for the ramen shop.

The university immediately responded, saying that the shop’s opening would help revitalize university-launched start-ups. The university then launched a student entrepreneur support project in which it provides the initial equipment for the eatery as well as covering gas and water expenses. Students, for their part, are responsible for electricity fees, common service fees and the costs for raw material and labor.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kindai Mazesoba, left, and Shodai Kindai Ramen

Although Nishi and Okuno are expected to operate the eatery for 1½ years, should the shop be in the red for two consecutive quarters, they will be forced to shut their business down.

Their menu consists of two kinds of ramen dishes: “Shodai Kindai Ramen” (first Kindai ramen, priced at ¥850) made with plenty of offal meat and vegetables, and “Kindai Mazesoba” (Kindai mixed noodles, priced at ¥800), which boasts a flavor that seems to be popular among university students.

The business’ logo and staff uniforms were designed by an art student of the Faculty of Literature, Arts and Cultural Studies.

Nishi, who sets a goal of selling 300 bowls of ramen per day, said, “I want to create a student-powered Kindai brand on par with ‘Kindai Tuna.’”

Kindai Tuna is exclusively farm-raised bluefin tuna that is raised utilizing a new aquaculture technique developed at the university’s Aquaculture Research Institute.

For the time being, only students, teachers and members of university staff are able to dine at the eatery due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even after the shop’s allotted time, the university has plans to continue providing students with the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship by inviting them to open a shop on campus, though it will be limited to a ramen shop.

Prior to being selected for the program, applicants must submit a business plan for their ramen restaurant, undergo an interview, and have their dishes judged based on taste. Those who pass the initial screening are expected to make the necessary preparations for opening a shop — such as obtaining a business license and raising funds.