Our reporter Ikuna Kamezawa has been coming to grips with her age recently, feeling significantly older now that she’s in her 30s and not getting approached by hosts on the streets of Tokyo anymore.
While some people might feel frosty towards the new generation of young adults now enjoying the carefree whims of youth, Ikuna feels no animosity towards them — in fact, she’s been wanting to spend time with them to find out what they’re into these days.
So when she heard about a “ramen and girls bar”, a place where you can talk to young female staff and spend time with them while eating ramen, she knew this was a place she had to visit.
So she hopped on a train to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, in search of Ramen & Bar Kanisuta. Nagoya is home to a large number of well-known ramen joints, including Fujiyama 55, which is so popular it now even has branches overseas.
▼ Fujiyama 55, also known as “Fujiyama Go Go” (go is Japanese for “five”)
When she arrived at Ramen & Bar Kanisuta, Ikuna was welcomed by banners on the street, showing that the “Ramen joint where you can talk to girls” serves noodles from Fujiyama 55.
▼ The banners also advertised the bar’s closing time of 5 in the morning.
The concept seemed to be similar to a maid cafe, which also offers customers the chance to talk to young women, but instead of staff serving sweets and omelette rice dishes, the menu here centers on alcoholic drinks and ramen.
▼ “Kanisuta” (“カニスタ”)
The neon sign out the front hinted that this would be a cool establishment for the young crowd, and when Ikuna opened the door she found…
▼ …there were lots of young people here, on both sides of the bar.
The average age of the female staff when Ikuna visited was around 20 years old, making her feel like their big sister. Determined not to be intimidated by the young vibe, Ikuna took a seat among the neon lights and perused the menu.
The menu revealed the store had a special system, where customers were required to order at least one item every hour, in addition to an hourly charge of 800 yen between the hours of 12 to 10 p.m. or 1,100 yen between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with female customers paying half of the hourly fee.
There were a couple of other options too — “Cast drinks” where you can clink glasses with a staff member at an additional cost of 300 yen per drink, and a signed photo, which costs 1,000 yen each.
In short, this place was a kind of so-called “con-cafe” (“concept cafe”). Ikuna had heard of these types of cafes in Japan, but this was her first time visiting one, so she instantly felt several years younger.
The staff here prioritise chatting with customers, and it’s not just men who visit, as the place is popular with young women too. While some come here for the chats, other customers come for the ramen, specifically the Taiwanese ramen, which is something of a specialty in Nagoya.
When Ikuna visited, she felt as if the place was more akin to a ramen restaurant than a concept cafe like a maid cafe. That could be because the staff seemed more relaxed, letting the conversation flow more naturally than it would at a maid cafe, where staff use set sing-song phrases.
▼ The relaxed vibe put Ikuna at ease, so she was able to strike up a conversation with two of the young women behind the counter.
Ikuna: “Hello! Wow, everyone here is so young!”
Staff: “We’re both 18.”
Ikuna: “Oh wow. So…what bands are you a fan of?”
Staff: “I’m actually not interested in bands at all!”
The pregnant pause lingered in the air longer than necessary and Ikuna suddenly felt like a flustered old man who couldn’t hold a decent conversation with the young crowd.
She swallowed nervously, determined to relate to these young women, despite feeling as if she were old enough to be their mother.
Ikuna: “Um…so what do you get up to on your days off?”
Staff: “I like visiting con-cafes as a customer.”
Ikuna: “Do you get along with the girls at other cafes?”
Staff: “No, it’s strictly forbidden to form relationships with staff at a con-cafe, so we can’t really become friends.”
Ikuna: “Ah, I see.”
Hoping the young women here didn’t think she was totally out of touch with their world, Ikuna took her first slurp of ramen.
The Taiwanese Ramen she’d ordered for 1,100 yen looked delicious, but when she thought about how it tasted…
…she found she couldn’t taste anything much at all.
To be fair, this was no fault of the ramen, as she’s sure it must’ve tasted good. It’s just that, with so many young women watching over her while she ate, Ikuna found herself feeling so self-conscious that her taste buds failed to send any signals to her brain.
It was an effect she hadn’t expected, and one that she found curious as her awkwardness continued throughout the hour, during which time she managed to talk to around 10 girls while sweating profusely. Then, she glanced over at the other customers and envied how comfortable they all seemed with each other.
However, Ikuna’s mood brightened after snapping a photo with the two women, who then proceeded to decorate the photo for her.
▼ Maybe she was fitting in with the youth of today after all.
After an hour in the company of young women, Ikuna felt rejuvenated despite her awkwardness, and was glad to have tried this new experience.
It’s a unique type of bar that sits somewhere in between a hostess bar and a maid cafe while cosplaying as a ramen restaurant. If that makes sense to you, feel free to give it a try, and you might want to stop by the late-night members-only parfait bar nearby too.
Ramen & Bar Kanisuta / Ramen & Bar カニスタ
Address: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Naka-ku, Osu 3-5-6 Yabacho Sanko Building 1F
Hours: 6 p.m.-5 a.m. (weekdays)/12 p.m.-5 a.m. (Sat and Sun)
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