How to Identify Good Japanese Food Place by Seeing the Noren (Japanese Curtain)

We know that Japan is truly one of a kind. There are so many unique facts about it. This one is no different. Have you ever noticed the Japanese curtain in front of the restaurants? It’s like a vertical fabric hanging in the entrance of the shops with Japanese-inspired service. We can see it in Japanese cuisine restaurants, Japanese goods shops, or even small eateries like seaweed shops or tea shops. In Japan, the curtain is called noren.

Noren, surprisingly, is not just for decorations. Originally, it was there to protect the place from the wind and rain. It makes the place warmer on cold days. Yet, it creates a shade on hot days as well.

But Noren has a larger purpose than that. It symbolises the class of the restaurant, as well representing the trust. Business owners can put a prestigious title of their business in the Noren. These names or symbols that represent the business called the Yago.

Here’s how we identify Japanese shops based on the Noren:

1.Dirty Noren

Japanese people believe that if the Noren is dirty, the shop is on demand. It’s because a busy shop will have many customers touch the noren when they enter the shop. That’s why it’s dirty, and the shop owner is too busy to clean it.

2. No Noren

It doesn’t mean the shop is not following Japanese culture anymore, but it means it’s closed. The Japanese shops are open when the Noren is hung across the entrance.

3. Same Noren here and there?

Actually, it’s not like franchise business. When a long-term employee of the shop want to resign and about to open his/her own shop, they are granted to use the same Yago like their last bosses. It shows that they have taken the traits of their previous employer. In Japan, the term used is “Noren wake” or “the sharing of the Noren”. Now, we can see why the noren holds such importance to Japanese shops. Recently, Japanese shops renew the design of the Noren. Apart from basic Japanese patterns, many shops are choosing popular characters, such as Hello Kitty, shown on the Noren. Famous artworks, poetry, and even Western patterns are also available to be used in a Noren.

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