The aging of owners coupled with local administrative restrictions are taking a toll on the famed open-air food carts in the center of Kyushu's economy, transportation and culture.

The "yatai" stalls first made their appearance in the form of bicycle-drawn carts shortly after the end of World War II, offering sake, beer, a type of stew called "oden" and ramen.

In their heyday, more than 400 of them lined the streets of Fukuoka, primarily in the Hakata and Tenjin districts. The number is now down to 166, but some proprietors predict a third of them will be out of business in five years.