Jigoku No Ramen Ya/JigokunoRamenYa (Ramen Shop in the Hell) じごくのらーめんや


Text : Sumiko Kanda 苅田澄子

Illustration : Shigeo Nishimura 西村繁男

Published : 2010

Personal recommendation : 3-5 years old and up

To review this book, I would probably need to explain the general image of Hell we Japanese usually have.  (otherwise, the setup for this story is difficult to follow so)  Once people passes away, it is believed that people are sent either to Heaven or Hell.  In the hell, the Demons of colors like Red or Blue torture the people sent with various techniques. Demons put humans to the pond of blood, or boiling pond/bath-tab, make you climb the mountains without any safety gears. Some demons are even ties people up around the tree and tying to take Human’s tongue out with big pliers. 

Obviously, people would not want to go to the hell. So how it is to be decided whether people can go either hell or heaven? Well, the demon master called King ENMA usually have short interview with people who just passed away, and ENMA judge its destination based on all the virtue the individual stocks while alive.   That being said, this book is about the story of KING ENMA in the hell.   Storyline is as follows.

  • Once day, Demons are torturing people in the hell as daily routine.  The people (while being tortured) are saying “Wish we were sent to Heaven as I heard there are so many tasty snacks/sweets”  “Yeah, this place sucks. There is nothing here” “Yeah, I hate this hell place!…” 
  • As King ENMA takes pride in building this Hell and he could not stand that heaven is considered to be better place in any aspects. So he decided to make Ramen noodle, which he loves. He then decided to open up Ramen Shop in the hell, where his signature red-hot spicy Ramen is to be served.
  • King ENMA tried to make people eat his ramen. But due to its spiciness, people cannot even touch this ramen with chopsticks.  King ENMA was furious as people are not eating his food he made.
  • Some people then tried to negotiate with ENMA.  “Sir, we want some reward for eating this Ramen.”   “What do you mean “rewards?” “  “For example, send the person to Heaven instead of staying here? “   “Yeah… OK then!”  ENMA finally made a deal with people. 
  • However, none of them cannot even finish the Ramen.  But Rumor travels and people would like to try eating this hot Ramen so that they can possibly get a ticket to heaven. People lining up in front of Ramen Shop, and it seems Ramen shop being as-if popular store, which makes ENMA happy.
  • Spicy but great smell of Ramen travels beyond the hell and it eventually reaches to Gods/Buddhas place in heaven.  “Wow, it looks there is now Ramen Shop in the hell. We gotta go visit!”   These gods all went to the hell to check out the Ramen Store.
  • King ENMA says to Gods/Buddha “I dare all of you to complete eating up this red-hot ramen and I will send you to the heaven.”   Gods says “Well, we came from Heaven. We know how to get back.  But if you say so, why don’t we make a new deal? If anybody in gods’ group finishes eating one bowl of Ramen, you demon master should obey whatever we gods ask?!”   As King ENMA had pride and confidence in his Hot Ramen, ENMA made a deal.
  • All the gods/Buddha could not finish the Ramen bowl, but JIZO (The guardian deity of Children made with stone statue) completed eating this Ramen and drink up all the soup without single sweat.   “WOW, you did it!” Other Gods screamed in joy.
  • Gods then made a deal with Demon Master (ENMA) to accept the order of any kinds of Ramen/Dumplings (Chinese foods) delivered from Hell to Heaven whenever they request. 
  • After coming back to Heaven, Gods/Buddha/JIZO just pick up the phone and order “Hey, we need 4 soy source-based ramen, 5 Miso Paste Ramen, 7 Seaweed Ramen, 9 dumplings etc etc”  
  • Because Delivery order from heaven keeps coming, all the demons including ENMA himself cannot stay away from the kitchen.  Since demons are so busy, there now are nobody who tortures humans in the hell and eventually hell turns into quite comfy place to live for humans and says “Hell isn’t bad place after all. We actually like Hell!” 
  • The last page, Gods/JIZO eating noodle and says “We like Ramen!”  (End of story) 

First,  due to Hell/Demon related contents, I thought this might be a bit scary for kids but from page 3-4 onwards, no scary description of world of Hell and my kids seems to enjoy reading this story.   As long as the readers are pre-informed about Japanese people’s image of Hell,  Age four and older should enjoy this book.

You can purchase this book here. 広告はこちら

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