Beef bowl chain Yoshinoya’s historic first store to close; special countdown site launched

TOKYO —

Yoshinoya’s very first store in Tsukiji will be closing later this year, and their tribute website offers plenty of nostalgic content, including some awesome videos.

If you’ve spent some time in Japan, chances are you’ve at least seen or had a meal at one of Yoshinoya’s stores. That distinct, sweet sauce used to cook the beef and onions is a taste that most Japanese people are familiar with.

Well, as it happens, the Yoshinoya store that opened in 1959 as the very first branch of the now giant beef bowl chain is located in the famous Tsukiji fish market, which is due to be relocated later this year. The current facility will be in use until November 2, after which time it will be shut down, meaning that Yoshinoya’s first store will also be closing its doors with the 80-plus-year-old market.

Now, that’s kind of a big deal, and the folks at Yoshinoya are honoring their first store location with a send-off via a special website counting down the number of days until the store’s closing. The site shares information on the history of both Yoshinoya and its first store and also includes video of specially made commercials, which Japanese netizens particularly seem to be enjoying.

There are four commercials that can currently be seen on the special countdown site, all featuring the Yoshinoya shop in the Tsukiji market and portraying a past era with a deep sense of nostalgia that apparently holds great appeal to the Japanese public. Some Yoshinoya fans are even claiming that this is the best promotional work ever produced by the chain.

Below is one of the commercials, titled “The First Tsukiji Shop Story“. The older store owner is probably intended to be Eikichi Matsuda, the founder of Yoshinoya, while the younger staff is most likely his son and successor Mizuho Matsuda.

As you can see, the commercial’s visuals are high-quality and entertaining and should be a meaningful record of the store that will soon be gone after 57 years of operation.

The images shown on the site give us a good feel for (albeit a visually polished version of) the atmosphere in the store 57 years ago.

The site also introduces us to some of the points that make the Tsukiji Yoshinoya store unique.

Being located in a busy market, there used to be times in the past when customers literally wouldn’t have time to wait for seats to open up, so the chopsticks were placed on the wall to accommodate those eating their meals standing up (which is relatively easy to do when the entire meal of beef and rice comes in one bowl).

Specially designed bowls are used to differentiate between large-size orders (ōmori) and orders with requests for extra beef toppings (“gu no omori”). This is something you see exclusively at the Tsukiji store, as this is the only location where they don’t use slips to record your order. (We’re guessing it took too much time for them to write the orders down and they decided to come up with a system where the cost for all the items would be apparent just from the bowls and plates.)

This is also where Yoshinoya’s signature rectangle-shaped counter with one open end began. This counter shape apparently makes for an efficient serving and eating space.

The website also mentions some of the innovative ideas started by the second-generation Yoshinoya owner Mizuho Matsuda who came came up with the chain’s well-known slogan “Fast, tasty, affordable.”

He experimented with various condiments and came to the conclusion that red ginger is the best suited garnish for beef bowls, a tradition that is still alive and strong today.

Matsuda designed the special ladle they use to place the stewed beef and onions on the rice. The ladle specifically has 47 holes in it, a number he arrived at after trying various designs.

They even have a detailed timeline of Yoshinoya’s history on the website. Yoshinoya itself began in 1899, but it wasn’t until the 1959 Tsukiji branch that they opened a store as part of the current chain.

So, they’ve obviously put considerable effort into this tribute website, which should be a lot of fun for Yoshinoya fans. If you want to get a look at the historic first-ever Yoshinoya store before it disappears, get to the Tsukiji location before November 2.

Shop Information
Yoshinoya Tsukiji Store / 吉野家築地一号店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1 Chuo Oroshiuri Shijo Food C
東京都中央区築地5-2-1中央卸売市場フードC
(5 min from subway Hibiya Line Tsukiji Station or Oedo Line Tsukiji Shijo Station)
Open 5 a.m.-1 p.m.

Sources: Yoshinoya Tsukiji Store special website, Buzz Plus News

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1 Comment

  • 0

    Wc626

    Been a Yoshinoya customer since the early 80's when they first made their debut in the US. Sukiya is pretty good too.

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