Greetings, all. My name is Masatoshi Ashida, and I’m the owner of KAIJUO Co., Ltd.
After leaving Uwajima in Ehime for Kochi and spending a year preparing for my second shot at the university entrance exams, I came out to Osaka in 1995.
As a university student, I spent most of my days racing motorcycles instead of studying. I eventually left university without graduating and was disinherited from my parents.
I was adrift in life with no purpose but somehow clung to my dreams of being rich.
In 2002, I was appointed the manager of a local shot bar, where I was entrusted with a variety of tasks including planning. That same year, however, the owner of the bar disappeared.
I took complete control of the bar following the owner’s disappearance, but in 2003 I was forced to close the bar for good.
Looking to add some excitement to the Tenjinbashi-suji Rokuchome, I gathered my savings and opened Tenroku Mush-Up later that year.
For the first four years, Tenroku Mush-Up was not fortunate in the customer department, so I focused on learning more about cooking in a desperate attempt to provide customers with a memorable experience.
About five years later, I had a chance encounter with someone, and that encounter was like a switch being flicked. Customers gradually began to increase, and today I’m supported by a great many friends that help me along the way to my goal.
I hope Tenroku Mush-Up will give me the opportunity to share my many experiences with my coworkers and to begin to bring about the world we each envision through determination and teamwork. My own vision for the world sees me opening another five restaurants by 2020. Those five restaurants will give us the perfect opportunity to fulfill our dream.
I think history has been made up of motivated people doing what they are motivated to do, and those with no motivation forever doing what they do best: nothing. We can’t live forever, so we had better do what we can while we can. What kind of person are you?
As for me, I look forward every day to the chance to meet someone full of passion.
- KAIJUO Co., Ltd.
- Date established
- January 17, 2013
- 6-3-26 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0041 Tenroku Mush-Up, 2F
- President & CEO Masatoshi Ashida
- 5 million yen
- Fiscal year
- August 1 to July 31
- Number of employees
- Part-time: 7 (as of January 2016)
- Restaurant and catering
When Masatoshi Ashida, owner of KAIJUO Co., Ltd., was 7 years old, there was a ramen shop next to his grandmother’s house in Toyooka City, Hyogo.
Even to this day, the braised pork noodles from that ramen shop are among the best that Mr. Ashida has eaten.
Around this time, a movie debuted that would push the inquisitive young Masatoshi along his ramen-filled path.
The movie that would change a life
“Tampopo (Ramen Western),” written and directed by Juzo Itami, would come to have a profound impact on Mr. Ashida’s life.
Referred to as a ramen western, “Tampopo” presents an anthology of food-related stories. For the adolescent Mr. Ashida, the shocking scenes strewn throughout the film had one important message: Ramen is a forbidden food.
Do not eat ramen. Do not even look at ramen.
Mr. Ashida arrives at Ogikubo, Tokyo—referred to as the “Holy Land” of ramen—for the first time on a school trip.
Visiting such famous ramen shops as Marushin, and Harukiya, Marufuku, Mr. Ashida once again receives a vitalizing shock from the flavors of the fish-based soups.
In 1991, Mr. Ashida embarks on a maniacal year-long trek to experience Japan’s ramen varieties.
This quest, however, would not end, even today.
*Recently, many shops are celebrating 20 years of business or more, adding a level of nostalgia to the journey.
August 20: Mr. Ashida opens Umi-no-ie Tenroku Mush-Up
When Tenroku Mush-Up was opened, the Tenroku Renga-dori Shopping Arcade saw very little pedestrian traffic, and the street lights turned off at night, making for what most considered a very difficult place to run a business. Offering delivery services for the area around the now-defunct “Naniwa Music” and with long hours through the night until morning, Tenroku Mush-Up struggles along for a year.
Around this time, Mr. Ashida meets a certain actress, which leads to a fateful encounter with a talented chef, thus kicking off Mr. Ashida’s culinary training.
First learning the basics of French cuisine, Mr. Ashida continues to study cooking from chefs preparing Japanese cuisine day in and day out, providing a chance to learn a variety of new techniques. Interrupted only by sleep, Mr. Ashida studies cooking non-stop and with vigor.
Mr. Ashida obtains qualification as a cook and, shortly after, for preparing blowfish. Mr. Ashida’s skills as a cook continue to grow.
Around this time, the number of shops that have gone under since Tenroku Mush-Up’s founding has surpassed 100. Disgusted with counting closed doors, Mr. Ashida comes to a decision to worry only about his own destiny. Saying to himself, “Let them do their thing, and I’ll do mine. I’ll either make it, or I won’t,” Mr. Ashida debuts his newest menu item, “¥2,000 Dealer’s Choice,” where today’s fresh ingredients are served.
Menu reform and the start of the nation-wide wine cellar tour
While continuing to learn about cooking, Mr. Ashida decides to unify the menu based on the idea of allowing customers to enjoy fresh food while it is its freshest.
At this time only luxury cooking cuisine and restaurants are able to offer a unified spread. (*On the side menu, the “Specialty Fried Chicken” became a hit dish that remains popular today (at just ¥280).
With ideas on meals and cooking heating up, Mr. Ashida embarks on mini eating tours almost every day and also begins to open his eyes to the world of Japanese sake.
Mr. Ashida’s previous experience as a bartender serves as a more-than-adequate background for learning more about sake.
Recognizing that, although shochu has its roots mainly in Kyushu, sake can be found anywhere, Mr. Ashida begins undertaking national brewery tours.
Kikizake-shi (sake sommelier) certification for providing professional-level enjoyment of Japanese sake
For sake brewers, I think knowing all of Japan’s delicacies is a must. As such, I’ve tried to interact with brewers from all over Japan, and eventually I knew enough about sake to become a certified kikisake-shi.
Incapable of letting go of his fascination with sake, Mr. Ashida’s national brewery tour takes him as far north as Akita and as far south as Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu.
Mr. Ashida participates in the AISHUDATE event for the fifth year in a row.
A die-hard fan of sake and other national liquors, Mr. Ashida continues his tour of Japanese breweries.
“Nunpoko” (Ramen shop) is born
Nunpoko opens its doors as Tenroku Mush-Up’s lunchtime ramen shop.
Open for only four hours between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, Nunpoko gains popularity and most days serves up more than 50 bowls of ramen.
“Strike-ken” is born
An homage to Tokyo’s “Hope-ken” (formerly “Home Run-ken”) ramen shop, the Strike-ken ramen shop is brought to life from a simple concept: “You can’t hit a home run, but you’ve got a good chance of striking out!”
Widely reported in “The Ultimate Ramen” and “Kansai Walker” magazines since its first year, Strike-ken earned the quasi-Grand Prix title in both the New Restaurant and Chicken Broth categories.
Participation in Shinjuku’s Dai Tsuke-men Haku (Great Tsuke-men Expo) and the Tokyo Ramen Show.
MUSH ANNEX PROJECT kicks off
“Ikeda-ya Renovation (Provisional)” opens on a trial basis with the intention of providing Tenroku Mush-Up regulars with a more comfortable use of space and carefully selected ingredients.
Ikeda-ya is themed after the “secret base” Mr. Ashida played at as a child.
MUSH’s first overseas expansion
Tenroku Mush-Up participates in the World’s Most Delicious Ramen Competition in Los Angeles.
A new Mush-Up ramen shop is opened for a limited time. Development of a new, permanent restaurant is under way.
“Enkai Mush-Up” is born
Revising “Ikeda-ya Renovation (Provisional),”
the members-only “Enkai Mush-Up” is introduced as a full-fledged restaurant.
Further enhance our menu and implement the culmination of 12 years of experience since our founding.
Focus on further development of our food, ramen, and events.
Also focus on furthering human resource development.
Begin the “Yama Co-Project”
Despite the inherent appeal, the countryside often boasts ingredients that do not make their way to city markets for such reasons as limited production volume. The “Yama Co-Project” is designed to bring together those country ingredients and the city folk who seek them. This project is also designed to provide greater activity in the countryside itself.
Open a new ramen shop
Building on the teamwork cultivated by 2016, we hope to open a truly unique ramen shop unlike anything seen before.
Introduction of “DETARAME” and “japow”
(1) Tenroku Mush-Up (Wagaya)
(2) Strike-ken (ramen shopkeeper training school)
(3) Enkai Mush-Up (members-only adult social club)
(4) Mary Anne (grand opening)
Through various support including the independent support of our employees and support for our grand openings, we hope to provide these four pillars with firm footing as we head into the next stage.