rental ramen partner shimizu kun
Food

Never Eat Alone Again With Japan’s Ramen Rental Partner Service

One Japanese man is on a quest to save lonely eaters by offering his services as the world’s first ramen rental partner!

February 1, 2022

Key Points

  • Shimizu-kun rents himself out as a “rental ramen partner” who will go and eat ramen with you
  • Shimizu-kun only offers his “services” for those who want to eat at a Ramen Jiro location
  • The rental ramen partner helps you order and provides you with company in the otherwise chaotic atmosphere of a crowded ramen chain

“I Just Don’t Want to Go Alone”

ramen jiro ramen rental partner
A bowl of Ramen from Ramen Jiro. Image sourced from Retrip.

Ever wanted to try a new restaurant you keep seeing or driving past?  Maybe it’s that “one place” you pass on your way to work every day or when going to class.  Maybe it’s right in your neighborhood and you just haven’t gotten around to it simply because going somewhere new is intimidating and you just “wouldn’t know what to get.”

These are both totally normal reactions when considering trying somewhere new. After all, what if you go in and it’s not even good?  Furthermore, going into a new restaurant by yourself can be even hard.  This is even the case in Japan, where grabbing a quick bite to eat at a restaurant alone is a lot more common than in the US.  

One of the many reasons this is more common in Japan is because of what seems to be a million ramen shops scattered across the nation, many of which are open late. Finding your ramen spot is a lot like finding that perfect coffee shop with good coffee, strong wifi, and a quiet atmosphere. In other words, you will need to try many different places until you find your perfect bowl of ramen.  

For many people in Japan, Ramen Jiro, a popular ramen restaurant that now has 40 locations across Japan, is their “go-to spot.”  However, because of its popularity, you are probably going to need to line up for a while before you can get your ramen, and when you do finally get a seat at the counter the ramen chef won’t waste any time asking you what you want to eat because he’s got a line full of people to feed. This is where the ramen rental partner service comes in!

Shimizu-Kun: The Rental Ramen Jiro Partner

shimizu kun ramen rental partner
Shimizu-kun, the rental ramen partner. Image sourced from Otonano-Shumatsu.

Understandably, entering a busy ramen shop for the first time can be pretty daunting to some, but don’t panic!  Meet Shimizu-kun, better known as the “Rental Ramen Jiro Partner,” or the “Rental Guy Who Eats Ramen Jiro.”  

Yes, technically he is the “Rental Ramen Jiro Partner,” not the “Rental Ramen Partner.” Shimizu-kun likes Jiro’s Ramen so much that he only offers his “services” if Ramen Jiro is involved. All you need to do is DM him on Twitter to choose a time and a place.  He goes by the Twitter handle @hakumaimosukiyo

So, when, how, and most importantly why did Shimizu-kun decide to become a member of the oldest profession (sort of)?  

Why Become a Rental Ramen Eating Partner?

One Man’s Love of Ramen

First, let’s start with the why.  The simple answer is that Shimizu-kun LOVES Ramen Jiro.  Shimizu-kun fell in love with Jiro’s ramen around 2 years ago when he was still in university.  If you ask him why, not only does he cite Ramen Jiro’s taste as the best, but he also praises Jiro’s incredible “cost performance” when referring to their large portions and easy-on-the-wallet price ranges.  

More importantly, Ramen Jiro isn’t your ordinary ramen shop, as it’s more of a “you either like or you don’t” kind of place. In fact, being a Ramen Jiro aficionado, known as a Jirolian, is like being part of an entire subculture.

Jiro’s fast-moving lines mean that the way you order is by shouting what Jirolian’s refer to as a  “call” to the chef.  After buying a ticket for the ramen portion of your liking at the vending machine, you yell out what toppings, how you want your noodles done.  For example, Shimizu-kun recommends adding garlic, bean sprouts, extra lard, and spicy sauce, all of which you order with a “call” of course.

Ramen rental partner huge line outside of ramen jiro
It isn’t unusual to see a huge line outside of a Ramen Jiro location. Image sourced from Buzz Plus News.

I know what you may be thinking.

“You have to sit down and just yell out to the chef right away? I wouldn’t know what to get! That sounds kind of intimidating…”  

These are the kinds of things Shimizu-kun heard from his peers whenever Jiro was brought up.  So, being the kind of self-sufficient man he is, he decided he could make a business, or at least, get some free ramen out of it!  

How Shimizu-Kun Got Started as a Ramen Escort

rental ramen partner shimizu kun outside of ramen jiro
Shimizu-kun outside of a Ramen Jiro location. Image sourced from Otonano-Shumatsu.

Shimizu-kun started his “business” in early 2020 by making a simple post on Twitter. Ever since then, business has been booming. In other words, the DM’s didn’t stop.  As of now, he’s had hundreds of “customers.”  And for those of you who may be thinking ramen is mainly enjoyed by on-the-go businessmen, Shimizu-kun says around 80% of his customers are female.  

Since he began offering his services, he’s become a mini-celebrity, appearing on TV, YouTube videos, and tons of social media posts. 

While many people offer to buy his ramen, it’s not a requirement.  Shimizu-kun doesn’t mind because he says he used to be shy, but this business has helped him get used to talking to and getting to know strangers. While payment isn’t required, if you decide to pay for Shimizu-kuns ramen, you’d probably be paying around 700 yen (6 USD). Of course, this price may be a little higher depending on what toppings Shimizu-kun wants!

What Does Renting a Ramen Partner Even Mean?

Dining with a Ramen Pro

So, what’s it like to hire a ramen rental partner?  First off, Shimizu-kun is a professional, meaning he gets right down to business and always comes prepared. 

Upon meeting Shimizu-kun at a train station that has a Ramen Jiro nearby, there will be a brief introduction and small talk. Then, he begins to ask questions and outline what the process will be like on the walk there.  

Shimizu-kun will start with some basics like, “have you ever been to a Ramen Jiro? How often do you eat ramen?” and, “Are there any foods you don’t like?”

He then explains what it is to be a Jirolian and what “calls” are.  After you decide on the toppings you want, it’s then up to you to decide if you want him to do the “calls” for you, or if you want to give it a try.  Shimizu-kun also emphasizes that Jiro has huge portions.  In fact, so huge that he recommends a “small” size portion for those looking for a regular portion of ramen.  All of this generally happens on the way to Jiro or while waiting in line.  

shimizu kun with a client at ramen jiro
Shimizu-kun with a client about to dig into a bowl of ramen at Jiro. Image sourced from Resort Baito Dive.

Once in the restaurant, Shimizu-kun places tissues and wet tissues on the table as he knows that you’ll be needing them after a greasy bowl of ramen.  He then watches the chefs very closely, and when the time is right, he lets you know it’s time to make the “call.”  Two or three minutes later, the chef reaches over the countertop and your ramen is placed right in front of you. 

Then all you need to do is enjoy a nice bowl of ramen with Shimizu-kun.  The two of you can talk if you want to, but if you don’t Shimizu-kun is a professional, thus, he won’t take it personally.

Would you hire Shimizu-kun? 

Sources:

https://nlab.itmedia.co.jp/nl/articles/2003/06/news131.html

Kevin Murasaki

Kevin Murasaki grew up moving back and forth between Chicago and Yokohama, Japan. Known as a "hafu", Kevin is half Japanese, and half American. Now a videographer and drone operator based in Fukuoka, Japan, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, driving on mountain or "touge" roads, and fishing in his free time. Kevin is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia.

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