TAKAMATSU, KAGAWA PREF. – A pair of English teachers at a language school in Kagawa Prefecture are promoting sanuki udon noodle bowls, a dish popular in the region, to foreign visitors through a poster explaining the intricacies of dining at local eateries.
More than 200 of the posters, titled “An English Guide to Sanuki Udon” and made by American Jeremy Lanig and his British coworker, Gary Wilkinson, have been distributed to udon restaurants in Kagawa.
The idea for the poster came from Lanig, a 37-year-old udon enthusiast. When he came to Japan in 2006, he faced what he considered a complex system of ordering at udon restaurants.
The noodles come in different serving styles, such as kake (basic, in hot broth) and kamatama (just out of the pot, eaten with a raw egg and soy sauce).
Eager to simplify the ordering process for newcomers, Lanig and the 31-year-old Wilkinson started working on the infographic poster last July. Their effort resulted in a colorful illustrated guide about the kinds of udon offered at a typical shop and how to order the one you want.
Lanig said he struggled with some Japanese words that can’t easily be translated into English, while Wilkinson, who handled the illustrations, said he used vivid colors so the poster would stand out.
They began distributing the poster in October and the response has been positive, with some shop owners finding them useful for learning English themselves. The duo have also received inquiries about the poster from shops outside the prefecture.
“The poster is useful not just for overseas customers but also for us to learn how to explain (the dish) in English,” said Shimpei Yonetsu, who runs an udon restaurant in Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa.
Lanig said he hopes their efforts will lead more people to understand and experience the world of sanuki udon.