Photos: Covid-19 pandemic lands Japan’s ramen bars in a soup

Across Japan, at least 34 ramen businesses like sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga’s Shirohachi have gone bankrupt with nearly ten million yen in liabilities during the first nine months of 2020. However, according to experts, this number is just the tip of the iceberg as local shops and small businesses often close up with no official filing. There are numerous other ramen shop owners like Haga who have gone without a salary since April. And despite government’s subsidies, future looks bleak for ramen bars as takeout and delivery options hardly match up to the post-office-hours business that these joints incurred before work from home restrictions became a norm.

Updated On Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST 9 Photos
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Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga holds a curtain as he prepares for the opening of his ramen noodle shop Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. Unprecedented customer slump due to coronavirus outbreak is forcing Haga’s shop to close its doors after serving ramen to locals for fifteen years. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga holds a curtain as he prepares for the opening of his ramen noodle shop Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. Unprecedented customer slump due to coronavirus outbreak is forcing Haga’s shop to close its doors after serving ramen to locals for fifteen years. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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A signboard reading ‘We will be closing down our business on December 10. I very much appreciate all your support of my dream over the last fifteen years.’ is displayed at the entrance of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. According to experts, small businesses often close up with no official filing. (Issei Kato / Reuters )

A signboard reading ‘We will be closing down our business on December 10. I very much appreciate all your support of my dream over the last fifteen years.’ is displayed at the entrance of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. According to experts, small businesses often close up with no official filing. (Issei Kato / Reuters )

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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An employee of Shirohachi prepares noodles inside the shop in Tokyo on November 20. Japan’s small and mid-sized businesses like Haga’s noodle bar employ about 70% of the country’s workers and account for 99.7% of the total number of enterprises, Reuters reported from government’s data. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

An employee of Shirohachi prepares noodles inside the shop in Tokyo on November 20. Japan’s small and mid-sized businesses like Haga’s noodle bar employ about 70% of the country’s workers and account for 99.7% of the total number of enterprises, Reuters reported from government’s data. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga cooks ramen noodles at his noodle shop 'Shirohachi' amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo on November 20. (Issei Kato / REUTERS)

Sixty-year-old Yashiro Haga cooks ramen noodles at his noodle shop 'Shirohachi' amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo on November 20. (Issei Kato / REUTERS)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Ladles for cooking ramen noodles are seen hanging in the kitchen of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. There is a growing insecurity among such employees that a resurgent virus could trigger lay-offs and shutdowns that they somehow survived during the first blow of the pandemic. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Ladles for cooking ramen noodles are seen hanging in the kitchen of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. There is a growing insecurity among such employees that a resurgent virus could trigger lay-offs and shutdowns that they somehow survived during the first blow of the pandemic. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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A vending machine for meal tickets is seen inside Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20.Yashiro Haga tried offering his noodles through takeout but was unable to make up for the income he lost after office workers’ visits fell due to work-from-home restrictions. “Even among the most popular places, sales from takeout aren’t exceeding,” he told Reuters. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

A vending machine for meal tickets is seen inside Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20.Yashiro Haga tried offering his noodles through takeout but was unable to make up for the income he lost after office workers’ visits fell due to work-from-home restrictions. “Even among the most popular places, sales from takeout aren’t exceeding,” he told Reuters. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Haga serves ramen at his noodle shop in Tokyo on November 20. According to Takeshi Yamamoto, an independent ramen critic who tracks shop closures, the wave of noodle shop closing started with those who were already on edge with their business such as elderly owners, then followed some noodle chains and those businesses that could not pay their landlord’s mounting rent. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Haga serves ramen at his noodle shop in Tokyo on November 20. According to Takeshi Yamamoto, an independent ramen critic who tracks shop closures, the wave of noodle shop closing started with those who were already on edge with their business such as elderly owners, then followed some noodle chains and those businesses that could not pay their landlord’s mounting rent. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Customers eat ramen inside Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. According to Reuters’ report, the pandemic has damaged Japan’s “mom and pop” restaurants and small businesses at such a wipe down rate that even the government’s subsidies will not restore losses in the long run. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Customers eat ramen inside Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. According to Reuters’ report, the pandemic has damaged Japan’s “mom and pop” restaurants and small businesses at such a wipe down rate that even the government’s subsidies will not restore losses in the long run. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Haga rolls a shop curtain at the entrance of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. Now he is using $29,000 worth of government’s subsidies to keep Shirohachi running till its closure in December, Reuters reported. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Haga rolls a shop curtain at the entrance of Shirohachi in Tokyo on November 20. Now he is using $29,000 worth of government’s subsidies to keep Shirohachi running till its closure in December, Reuters reported. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Updated on Nov 25, 2020 12:01 PM IST
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Tuesday, November 30, 2021