In accordance with Japanese culture and work ethics, Japanese restaurants, particularly shops specializing in traditional Japanese foods, are expected to behave formally and politely when communicating with customers, especially when it comes to signs posted at the entrance announcing closings. If the closing has not already been announced or if it does not coincide with either the year end / New year period or the summer Obon period when family-run shops are known to close, the message is typically as matter-of-fact as possible and personal matters are almost never mentioned.

If the sign posted in front of his shop is any indication, however, the owner of the 大地のうどん Daichi no Udon noodle shop in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, doesn't seem to feel bound by that unwritten rule. Regular customer Ryosuke Yamazaki saw the sign when he visited on March 20th and posted a snapshot of it in a tweet that went viral with over 95,000 likes and 28,000 retweets at the time of writing:

"We will be closed tonight. I sincerely apologize to all our customers who came to our shop. This is a personal matter but my wife has safely given birth and, unable to control my urge to tell her 'thank you' and 'I love you,' I'm going back home to Fukuoka [to be by her side]. Sorry for acting so selfishly."

Written in pencil at the bottom, presumably by a customer: "Congratulations! So, is it a girl? A boy?"

(Note: Whether intentionally or in error, instead of the usual spelling for gomen-nasai ごめんなさい, meaning "I'm sorry," he used the kanji for noodles 麺 which is also pronounced "men.")

"I came to eat udon but... I can't argue with this."

Reactions to the shop owner's very honest and personal message were almost unanimously supportive:

  • "How wonderful!"
  • "He's right, you can't argue with this. It's a call for celebration!"
  • "The shop owner of Daichi no Udon is from Fukuoka? I want to go back again to have their burdock root tempura udon!"
  • "It didn't fill my stomach but the sign did manage to fill my heart with warm feelings..."

Perhaps feeling a bit responsible for all the commotion and public attention and also perhaps since she noticed the question at the bottom of the sign, the shop owner's wife replied to Ryosuke Yamazaki's tweet the following day:

"Good evening! My name is Kaori Abe and I'm the wife of the shop owner of the Baba branch of Daichi no Udon! Please forgive this sudden message. Thank you so much for your Tweet! It created such a sensation that I've been receiving messages of congratulations from all over. I'm so happy {heart mark} I was able to safely deliver a baby girl weighing 3,810 grams (8 pounds 6 ounces)!"

It would seem that the shop owner is not only good at serving tasty bowls of noodles, he's also a caring husband and now a proud father as well.

A bowl of burdock root tempura udon sounds great right about now. If you're thinking the same, here's what you need to know:

  • Name (JP): 大地のうどん馬場店
  • Name (EN): Daichi no Udon, Baba Store
  • Address (JP): 東京都新宿区高田馬場3-22-14 アビテヒデミ101
  • Address (EN): 101 Habite Hidemi, 3-22-14 Takadanobaba Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
  • Hours: 11:00 to 15:30 (last order), 18:00 to 22:00 (last order)
  • Tel: 03-3369-7190
  • Website: Daichi no Udon, Baba Store

By - Ben K.