Tsukuba is a small, planned city nestled in the mountains of Ibaraki, which has a reputation for being a pretty chilled out place to live. The small population size and abundance of surrounding nature give the city a slow-paced, laid back feeling compared to the bustle of major cities like Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka.
We hear there are also a lot of great places to eat in Tsukuba, provided your restaurant or cafe of choice isn’t closed for the day because they couldn’t decide on the day’s menu items or the manager has a hangover.
Or at least, that may be the case if you choose to drop in on the popular privately owned cafe, Ajiyoshi. The staff over there seem to take their easygoing lifestyle to the next level, frequently closing up shop on a whim; but never without “good” reason.
Here are some of the excuses for closing spotted on Ajiyoshi’s chalkboard sign or the restaurant’s Twitter feed over the years. We swear we’re not making these up:
“We’re feeling kind of sad today. So, we’re closed.”
“We totally screwed up cooking one of our side dishes. So, we’re closed.”
“We got a flat tire on the way to the restaurant today and couldn’t prep in time. Sorry, guys. See you tomorrow!”
“A witch attacked us out of the blue. We’re in bed with magic attack-related back pain.”
“Hungover. Try again tomorrow.”
“The owner’s daughter came to town unexpectedly, so we couldn’t prep in time today. Closed!”
“My car won’t start! See you tomorrow! Sorry about this being the second week in a row…”
“We ate too many grilled chicken skewers yesterday. Sorry, we’re gonna have to take the day off.”
▼ Ajiyoshi’s head chef, working hard on one of the few days he feels like it.
“We drank too much to shake off the summer heat last night. Gonna call service off today!”
“This dentist appointment is taking longer than expected… We’ll open early tomorrow to make up for it!”
“The summer heat is too much for one of our cooks to take. Sorry, closing for the day! We’ll have double steak portions tomorrow to make up for it!”
“I’m fighting with my husband. Sorry, we’re closed for the day.”
And, finally, perhaps our favorite:
“Hi! Ajiyoshi here. Hmm… In any case, we’re gonna close today after all!”
Well, it goes without saying that Ajiyoshi is a tiny mom ‘n’ pop kind of outfit – which explains why there appears to only be a handful of photos of the restaurant in all of the Internets, and why their Twitter feed picture is an egg. So, people in the restaurant’s immediate vicinity are probably pretty understanding about all this. In fact, these types of cafes that thrive on neighborhood business aren’t uncommon in Japan and usually put together some stellar dishes, so the odd unannounced day off is forgivable.
In fact, we’re quite intrigued about the food at Ajiyoshi. It must be pretty good if they’re still in business despite being closed, it appears, more often than not. But, we’re kind of afraid to make the hike all the way out to Tsukuba only to find the shop closed because the chef got lost on his way to work or something.