UTSUNOMIYA, TOCHIGI PREF. – The municipal government of Sano, Tochigi Prefecture, has launched a project to help potential settlers open ramen noodle shops in the area.
The city has already received inquiries from over 30 people wishing to move to Sano, the key local specialty of which is ramen. The city will solicit candidates by around summertime.
About 150 restaurants there serve Sano ramen, which is known for its chewy, wrinkled noodles made using a traditional method that employs thick green bamboo to press the dough.
On weekends, long lines of customers — including visitors from outside Tochigi — form in front of popular Sano ramen joints.
The government will help potential settlers connect with existing ramen shops for training, before introducing vacant stores, giving lectures on business know-how and offering other support needed to open a restaurant in the city.
It expects those receiving assistance to settle down in Sano as ramen shop managers.
The city also hopes that the project will make it easier for current ramen shop managers to find successors, and help reduce the number of vacant stores in downtown areas.
Sano is currently seeking input from local ramen shop workers to select the shops where potential settlers will be trained.
A local ramen shop employee welcomed the project, saying, “Raising the whole level of Sano ramen will lead to the revitalization of the industry.”
“It’s good to have someone take over the traditional taste,” said a worker at a ramen shop that is seeking a successor.
The project has been commissioned to a private company. The firm will establish an organization to support migration to Sano and the launch of new businesses, produce a video featuring a local ramen shop owner, and hold an event on making noodles with green bamboo.