Noodol Cafe isn't your typical ramen joint. You could buy the noodles at any old supermarket. You could even make them at home, within minutes.
What makes Noodol Cafe stand out is its gimmick. But what may kill it is a Japanese celebrity. With a Death Blog.
Online in Japan, the Death Blog is notorious. It's not actually called the "Death Blog" or "DEATH BLOG", but "Aki Higashihara's Official Blog". Her ability to seemingly "kill" things off, such as the Nintendo Wii, are so famous that upon spotting her name on the Noodol Cafe site, a Japanese forum user wrote, "Aki Higashihara, oh shit."
Opening on January 23, the cafe is the work of Platinum Production, a talent agency. On the Noodol Cafe site, it lists some of the celebrities it manages like idol group flight attendant inspired idol group Passpo, former spacey Sega pitch girl Yuko Ogura and Aki Higashihara. If the Japanese internet is to be believed, just writing her name on this shop's site, is putting Higashihara's mark on it. This cafe is doomed.
The cafe's gimmick, and boy is it a gimmick, is that well-known Japanese idols pour hot water onto your instant ramen. Here's how it works: You go to Noodol Cafe in Akihabara; you select the idol; you go to a get a cup of vending machine ramen and a drink; you go to the counter, where the idol pours hot water on your ramen.
All this for ¥800 ($10). If you've ever bought cup ramen and a soft drink in Japan, you'll know how overpriced this is -- usually both don't cost over a few bucks. "Holy crap this is pricey," said one Japanese commenter.
It is pricey. It is gimmicky. Both of which might, over time, drive customers away once the shops initial sheen wears off. But it might be something else. It might be Higashihara.
As previously mentioned, Higashihara finally purchased a Nintendo Wii in November 2010. The following E3, the Wii U was formally revealed, thus effectively killing off the Wii. But wait, there's more:
• Higashihara works as a campaign girl for the Dreamcast, and then the console is defeated by the PlayStation 2.
• She works as a campaign girl for loan firm DIC. DIC goes under.
• In 2007, she begins appearing on horse racing show Super Keiba. The show, in its 20th year on air, is cancelled three months later.
• In 2008, she states she'll marry Inoue at the Imperial Hotel. A fire breaks out at the hotel.
• In early 2008, Higashihara appears at a McDonald's. Parasites are found in the burgers the next day.
• That same year, she appears in an ad for instant ramen. Later, parasites are found in that company's instant noodles and insecticides are found at the factory.
This is the stuff of internet folklore in Japan. It's the kind of thing people joke about and don't really take seriously. But with her track record, "Oh shit", indeed.
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