Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.646

Hello from Yuka from Ichiroya. ogenki desuka? How are you?
We went to see Ichiro's parents today and on our way home, we decided to go to this curry restaurant for supper.
It is a famous chain restaurant called Coco Ichibanya. When we say `Curry' in Japan it means `curry and rice' ---curry sauce is poured over rice. Curry and rice is everyone's favorite and can consider, `Japanese' food.
This is a famous chain restaurant and you may find Coco Ichibanya almost everywhere in Japan. People call the restaurant `Cocoichi' as a nickname.
Today we like to tell about the founder of Cocoichi, Tokuji Munetsugu.
How he became to be a founder is such a great and most curious story.
I like to tell about his life from this article:
Tokuji was born in 1948 in Ishikawa prefecture. Soon after he was born, he was sent to an orphange in Hyogo prefecture. He was adopted by a relative in Nagoya when he was three years old. The foster father was a compulsive gambler and since his wife left, Tokuji lived with this foster father. He was often violent with Tokuji and they lived below the poverty line. They had no electricity, they used candles and often had to move because they could not pay a rent. Every six months, they moved a place to place. Tokuji had no lunch to bring to school, so he escaped from classroom during lunch time and waited until other classmates finished their lunch. They lived in poverty until he became 15 years old. He entered a high school and got a job at tofu shop of his classmate. He worked from early in the morning and could pay the school fee. His foster father died at that time. Even though the father was violent and helpless, Tokuji liked him a lot. The foster father gave Tokuji two apples when he was given a single sum from Public Employment Security Office. Tokuji recalls this as a good memory of his foster father.
Tokuji was asked why he did not join young gangs during the very hard and poor life, and he replied because he was a timid person.
He met a woman and got married- they started a small coffe shop. The curry and rice his wife made became popular and four years after they started the coffe shop, they founded Coco Ichibanya to serve curry and rice. This was the first restaurant-now they have 1000 restaurants all over Japan. His company supports charity activities too.
`Customers First' is the most important thing as a merchant', Tokuji says in the interview.
Devoting all his life to customers was what he was doing during his active career as a manager. He thought about nothing but customers all the time. He did not make friends or spend time of his own. `I just wanted to make customers happy, that's all'  he says.
‘I wanted to live up to people's expectations and did not want to waste my time for other things'. He says, as a merchant, nothing but keeping honest effort is the only thing to do.
`You have to be honest to be trusted by customers and workers. Being calculating and selfish, nobody trust you. And being humble also is the thing you cannot forget.'
During the interview, he was asked, `Did you ever think about being rich?' and he said `No, never. I never had a wish to be rich or successful. I just wanted customers to be happy and to be recognized. Nobody recognized me until I was 15 years old. I was in a desperate situation and was very lonely. I wanted people to recognize me, that was my motivation. If people become happy by my existence, by what I do, that meant a lot to me. That meant more than earning money.
As an advice for young people, he says doing the best with the work in front of you is the most important thing. Even the small work, you can try your best, you can wash dishes beautifully, or you can reach office faster to start working early and so on. 
You cannot reach top suddenly. You have to keep working hard-your effort will be recognized. Your continuous effort brings wonderful result.
As a manager, the feeling of `Kansha' is the most important thing. Being grateful to customers, workers and people doing business with, he says this is the thing you never forget.
See the menu-Coco Ichiban has so much variety of curry sauce.
Curry sauce with vegetables, beef, pork, chiken and seafood. I chose curry sauce with vegetables with chiken cutlet as topping!
You can choose the sauce and topping. You can choose the amount of rice and also `Karasa'(how spicy the sauce is). They have `hottest' to `mild' with 8 grades, so you can choose the taste you like. See the chart of the left page- you can choose the type of sauce, rice amount, spice level  and topping.
Here is the menu, they have menu in other languages too.
We could understand how much they care about customers, their menu contains a lot of information about ingriedients and we saw many families with small children came into the restaurant. Small children can choose not hot curry sauce, and they have salad and other variety of side dish also. We had really nice supper, the curry was so oishii(delicious!)
Cocoichi is a casual and friendly restaurant and the curry they serve taste familiar.
If you find Cocoichi while you travel Japan, try it! Japanese love curry and rice and we hope you like the Japanese style curry too.