National / Media | Pulsations

Fork hides noodle-slurping sounds

by Natsumi Komiyama

Contributing Writer

Instant noodle producer Nissin Food Products has created a “noise-canceling” fork to mask the sound of someone exuberantly slurping down a mouthful of noodles.

Named “Otohiko,” the utensil has been developed in an attempt to disguise the excessive slurping sounds that can be found emanating from noodle shops nationwide. So loud is the practice that social media users have even begun to refer to it as “noodle harassment” (or “hu-hara” in Japanese) after it was featured in a news segment of a Fuji TV show called “Tokudane!”

The tradition is supposed to reflect a diner’s appreciation of the noodles, while it is also believed to help enhance their flavor. However, the sound makes some diners uncomfortable when they are trying to enjoy their own meals.

Nissin’s fork eliminates this problem, sending a signal to a mobile phone upon detecting the sound of slurping and triggering it to play the sound of flowing water to hide the noise. The noodle producer says the fork was inspired by toilets featuring an “Otohime” function that emits a flushing sound to mask embarrassing sounds.

Sound director Shinya Kiyokawa, who helped create the fork, urges people to experiment with different slurping sounds.

The fork hasn’t officially been launched, and the company says it will only do so if it receives 5,000 pre-orders by Dec. 15. The fork is being advertised as ¥14,800.

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