The 140-year old Sukiyaki restaurant in Tokyo will be shutting down due to Covid-19!


Well, it’s disheartening to hear as the owner of a the 140-year-old restaurant called Sukiyaki restaurant in Tokyo’s Asakusa district shits down due to business downfall owing to Covid-19 pandemic.

Fumihiko Sumiyoshi, who is the sixth-generation manager of the Chin-ya sukiyaki restaurant in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.

Fumihiko Sumiyoshi, aged 55 and the sixth-generation manager of the Chin-ya sukiyaki shop, shared that what makes sukiyaki appealing worked against it in the coronavirus pandemic! The restaurant will be shutting its operations on August 15th.

The owners of this 140-year-old restaurant stated that what has forced them to shut down is the government’s COVID-19 policy that warns people to avoid the “three Cs” of closed, crowded, and close-contact settings. This restaurant was known to get people closer to each other over its communal dish served in a pot.There is a history behind its name too! The word Chin-ya in its name comes from the usage of the building during the Edo Period (1603-1867). It was a veterinary clinic that delivered Japanese spaniels, called “chin,” and other pets to daimyo feudal lords and wealthy merchants.

The name continued even later when this building was converted into a restaurant in 1880.Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868 that brought down the Tokugawa Shogunate and restored imperial rule, the Fukuzawa Yukichi and other such cultural people visited beef pot restaurants.Beef pot became a trending food, and this saw a surge of nearly 500 beef pot stores in 1877, situated in Asakusa.Later the meal’s Kansai-style name, sukiyaki, spread, and Chin-ya in 1903 started exclusively providing it.

In 20021, Sumiyoshi was Chin-ya’s manager. His primary role was to keep an eye on the customer’s reactions to the restaurant: He spent many hours at the restaurant entrance collecting customers’ shoes after taking them off to go inside.He met the customers when they came in and when they left to analyze their reactions. People usually eat sukiyaki on special occasions, but many people came to Chin-ya after attending memorial services, grave visits, and other Buddhist rituals. This was because of the presence of many temples around Asakusa.Sumiyoshi was very articulate in ensuring the restaurant’s details so that customers would leave with a lasting impression.

Well, this paid off, as the restaurant saw generations of a family still visiting the restaurant. A group of customers would even gather in front of the restaurant and enjoy sukiyaki every January 3rd without making a reservation. However, this starts depleting year after year.Many years ago, a person came, and he did not order sukiyaki, saying, “Eating it by myself would make me feel lonely.” Sumiyoshi felt that he should have made an effort to talk to the customer to eat it.Sumiyoshi had an idea; in 2008, he brought around 50 Sukiyaki restaurant operators for a conference from all across the nation. This was a good move as this gave all the Sukiyaki restaurant operators to come together, know each other and form an association that had never happened before.Since then, this has become a regular feature and successful too. It is a time when theydiscuss topics like a specific Welsh onion

Hope for a Reboot!
The building that you see currently was constructed in 1975. However, now it has depleted with jammed windows, and on hot summer days, the air conditioner also stops functioning. Well, then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which gave the final blow to Chin-ya.Sukiyaki makes people come closer to each other over a delicious meal, and they become friendlier with each other!However, owing to the circumstances, Sumiyoshi decided to shut down the restaurant and sell the building. In June, he sent a notification of closure to the regular customers of the eatery. That was indeed very sweet of him! As a response to his notification, he has been flooded with inquiries.

The restaurant Chin-ya will close, but its managing firm will be kept operational, hoping that the restaurant could be started once again in some form someday.”I’m not giving up; I am looking forward to that day,” stated Sumiyoshi. “He then jokingly mentioned that in the interim, he would be singing Kyu Sakamoto’s 1960s hit song “Sukiyaki.”!


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