The mystery of the only restaurant in the Tenka Ippin Group that does not serve “proudly kottori
The long man-boat (a priority measure to prevent the spread of the virus) caused by the new coronavirus has come to a temporary rest. The season has come for a trip in search of a “hot and sticky” drink. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Tenka Ippin is now the leader in the world of kottori ramen, with 231 restaurants in its group. From Omagari, Akita in the north to Miyakojima Island, Okinawa in the south, you can enjoy the same one and only “kottori” wherever you go. However, there is one place in Japan that does not serve the “kottori” that is synonymous with it.
One such place is located on the shore of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. It is Spa Resort Yugoto Agarikyanse, a bathing facility located on the shores of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture.
Although “Agarinense” is one of the most popular health spa facilities in the Kansai region, surprisingly few people know that it is operated by Tenka Ippin. This is because although there is a cafeteria in the facility, there is no Tenka Ippin itself, and there are almost no posters or souvenirs to suggest that it is operated by Tenka Ippin. Although it is not visible on the surface, it seems that this hot spring is so deeply imbued with its beliefs that it is known as “Tenka Ippin without ramen”.
The total floor area is approximately 3,000 tsubo. The large natural hot spring baths, which are fed by two natural private hot springs, and the large open-air baths with a lake view spread out before your eyes. It also has one of the largest bedrock baths in the Kansai region, which is called “World Performance Castle,” as well as gourmet food. It is also equipped with entertainment facilities such as a popular theater, and costs 1,650 yen for adults on weekdays. Now, 17 years after its opening, the “Tenka Ippin Onsen” is crowded with customers even on weekdays. A spokesperson for the group says, “Originally, it was called ‘Agariyan.
Originally, this “Agarikyanse” was created by Chairman Tsutomu Kimura as a place to relax and show his gratitude to his fans. The chairman visits each store every day, and when he meets his old regulars at the store, he says, ‘You’re a good chairman. He went through a lot of hardships, but he was very successful doing what he loves, and he has money, so we still have to work. My back is aching. It is thanks to our customers that we have made it this far, so we created “Agarikyanse” out of a desire to somehow repay them.
That’s why we do almost nothing in the way of advertising, make no profit, or even go as far as to say that we do it for free. Naturally, everyone in the company was vehemently opposed to this idea (laughs). The chairman said, ‘I want to spend time here with my customers,’ so he went ahead and opened ‘Agarikyanse’ in 2005, followed by ‘Kotoyu,’ a lodging facility next door, in 2007.
The hot spring is a facility for appreciating “Tenka Ippin” fans. Chairman Kimura, who makes the rounds of each restaurant, sometimes hands out coupons to those waiting in line, saying, “Wait a little longer,” and “Come to the hot spring I run,” which is a strong sense of “hospitality. This lack of salesmanship has attracted many customers to Agarikyanse, including those who have never heard of Tenka Ippin.
The spacious open-air bath, which offers a view of the vast Lake Biwa, is lined with a variety of hot springs and garden kettles, reminiscent of those at a soup factory in Seta, and is sure to warm your body and soul. Five types of bedrock baths, the largest in the Kansai area, and a high-temperature sauna that is well-received by sauna lovers, are more than adequate in size and offer a wax service. The deep water bath and the outside air bath area where you can feel the wind of Lake Biwa provide the best conditions for getting in shape.
After taking a bath, you can relax on the tatami matted floor in the rest area, where about 200 recliner chairs with TVs are prepared along Lake Biwa. There are also 50 deluxe massage chairs that can be used free of charge, a manga corner, massage, karaoke, and a fitness center. There is also a manga corner, massage, karaoke, a fitness center, and even a theater where a theater troupe is invited to perform popular plays. The theater also hosts a TV program sponsored by “Tenka Ippin,” a well-known restaurant in the Kansai region.
But perhaps the best part of “Agarikyanse” is the chance to meet Mr. Kotteri, the restaurant’s chairman, Tsutomu Kimura. He spends most of his days here, in the bathhouse, dining room, and massage parlor, chatting with customers in a friendly manner, taking pictures, and entertaining them like a star. If you look closely, you can see many photos of him with celebrities throughout the facility. Kimura says, “When I meet a customer in the bath, he says, ‘I’m going to take a picture with you.
“When I meet a customer in the bath, he says, ‘Oh, Mr. Chairman! Listen,’ and they chat about all sorts of things. I can hear them say, ‘I had ramen at that restaurant the other day, and how it went. If there was a bad response, I would call them right away and ask, “What kind of work are you doing? I’ll have them fix it. It’s like a reference box where you can easily make a direct appeal.
On the other hand, a question arises. Why is there no “Tenka Ippon no Kottori” when there are so many places like this? The Japanese, yakiniku, Italian, and other dining options are all very fancy, and the chefs are authentic chefs who are very particular about their flavors, but Chairman Kimura’s belief is that they will never serve Tenka Ippon ramen, which is the most important item.
He says, “Customers still say, ‘Why don’t they sell ramen when they have such a good facility? Of course, if we sold ramen, we would sell it. But there are other restaurants nearby, such as the Kata and Karasaki restaurants, so if we serve ramen at Agarikyanse, we would be interfering with the other restaurants in the neighborhood that are doing their best. Even though we are a chain, we can’t just increase the number of restaurants. It is the job of the higher-ups to protect the stores so that they do not compete with each other. Business is not something that is good only for the immediate future.
The adjacent Kotoyu, a natural hot spring inn, does not offer the best in the world, but it offers Japanese cuisine using seasonal ingredients, starting at 17820 yen per night with half board (other plans are available depending on the number of guests and the number of overnight stays). The view of Lake Biwa from the large windows in the rooms is second to none. Guests can enter the “Agarikyanse,” which is connected to the hotel by a corridor, free of charge on both the day of check-in and the day of check-out. Recommended for those who want to fully enjoy their stay.
The view of Lake Biwa is the view of the world. The area was once an important transportation hub along the Nakasendo, Tokaido, and Hokuriku highways, and Oda Nobunaga built his castle on the shores of Lake Biwa, which is also close to the capital.