UTSUNOMIYA, Japan >> The message on a flyer, created by the town of Motegi, is loud and clear: “Ramen shop wanted!”
The town’s last ramen shop closed about 10 years ago, and the municipal government is eager for another to replace it.
Motegi, in Tochigi prefecture, had been luring candidates on social media with the promise of subsidies. It began accepting applications in late June and, after receiving a healthy number of positive responses, moved up its application deadline from August to July.
The town is tapping a municipal subsidy intended to encourage rental of vacant properties, and is focusing on specific types of businesses.
A ramen shop is Motegi’s first venture. The proprietor will receive a 50% subsidy of startup costs up to about $13,600 and a discount of up to about $450 off monthly rent for two years.
Stated the flyer, “There isn’t even a single ramen shop in Motegi. Ramen lovers have lost their daily treat and cannot concentrate on their work. We’re looking for someone who can start a ramen shop to save these people.”
“We’ll get each applicant to … submit a business plan,” said a municipal official. “Hopefully, this will lead to the opening of a new shop.”