Deaf owner to close his noodle shop that patrons order by sign language

Koichi Sato (left), the Deaf owner and chef
of a noodle shop, makes a bowl of
"buckwheat noodle", the best menu he is proud of.

A noodle shop, called "Izumosoba", which is owned by a Deaf man for 40 years near JR Niigata Station, will be closed at the end of January.

Koichi Sato (66), the born-deaf shop owner is also a chef. He went to Tokyo after he left the school for the deaf and became a disciple at a noodle shop. He learned the trade hard for nine years.

When he came to make buckwheat vermicelli very well for himself, he got prepared to start his own shop in his hometown in Niigata Prefecture.

In spite of being opposed by his father because of his deafness, he finally opened the shop in 1970, and he has kept doing business with the family and the part-timers since then.

For a early period since the opening of the shop, Koichi was not aware of guests coming in at first, who left the shop with anger. He earned very little, but he politely explained to people about his deafness and more patrons visited the shop.

Soon some of patrons came to answer the telephone, to help with taking order for Koichi. It has been natural that these guests thoughtful of the shop owner point at the menu, or use sign language to order.

A plan to rebuild the building, of which Koichi is a tenant, was final last year. Considering the high cost to renew his shop and a successor whom he lacks, he decided to close it.

One of the patrons says, "In this shop, people, Deaf or hearing, can get together, too. It is a happy time when we drink all night even if time of closing the store is passed. I regret that the shop will not be any more".

The shop will be closed as soon as buckwheat flour is totally gone though closing the store is scheduled for January 25.

Koichi said with a grin, "I was lucky enough to come though with the kind support of my patrons though I have had often a hard time because of my deafness".

Japanese source:

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