The story of a ramen shop

When I was small, my family would visit my maternal grandmother’s house for a few days after Christmas to help with the house cleaning. In the evening, I had a lot of time to spare with myself, and often sat in the dining room watching TV. This is a story that I once heard on a TV program at my grandmother’s place in one of those evenings.

In the rural countryside of Southern Japan, there was a small ramen shop which offered a bowl of ramen at the mind-blowing price of 10 Japanese yen. A regular ramen would cost at least 350 yen even in the countryside. The owner of the ramen shop was an elderly lady, and she explained to us why she had never risen the price of this ramen for decades in her business.

The story went back to when she was probably in her late forties or early fifties. There was a group of young gangsters making a regular visit to her shop, and she greatly disapproved of their presence whenever they came. Their manner, their visible tattoos, the way they were dressed – everything went against her virtue. She secretly wished that they would stop visiting her shop.

One day, her granddaughter became very ill, and for her surgery, she urgently required a blood donation. Desperate, the lady put up a notice in front of the shop asking the customers if they could donate their blood for her granddaughter. Days went by, and nobody volunteered. The lady was heartbroken to realize that nobody who came to eat her ramen cared for the life of her granddaughter.

Then one day, one of the gangsters visited the shop. He ordered a ramen, and asked the lady if she was able to collect enough blood donation for her granddaughter. When she replied that she hadn’t received any, the young man showed his arm to the lady.

“You can take my blood.”

Upon hearing this, the lady broke into tears. When all her customers passed over her written request, this young man cared for it and now offered his own blood. He also mentioned that his gangster friends were also ready to donate their blood.

The blood donation from this group of gangsters saved the life of this lady’s granddaughter. In order to remember her lesson and to recognize the kindness offered by these young men, the lady decided to keep the price of this ramen bowl at 10 Japanese yen regardless of the market price changes.

I was glued to the screen as I watched this story. It has never left my heart since.