Suspect admits to personal use, denies distributing drug to customers.

Visiting a ramen restaurant in Japan isn’t just a flavor experience, but an aromatic one too. Chefs generally make their broth on-site, cooking behind the counter of cramped interiors, which means that customers are enveloped in the scent of soy, miso, or pork or fish stock.

But there was a different smell in the air at Antaga Taisho, a ramen restaurant in Osaka’s Taisho Ward: the smell of pot.

During a search of the premises in September, police discovered a total of 11.2 grams (0.4 ounces) of marijuana belonging to the restaurant’s owner, Yosuke Kajibayashi, which were stored in plastic bags both in his wallet and in a cardboard box inside the restaurant. During questioning, the 32-year-old restaurateur told police “I can’t smoke it at home because my family is there, so I kept it at the restaurant and smoked after work.”

The police also say they have statements from customers claiming that the restaurant’s interior smelled like marijuana, although it’s not specified whether such reports were the basis for the initial search of the restaurant or instead came to light during the course of an already in-progress investigation.

▼ A bowl of Antaga Taisho’s ramen

Kajibayashi said that he has been using marijuana since “five or six years ago,” and insists that he did not provide his customers with the drug. Nevertheless, the authorities are pressing charges, in keeping with Japan’s staunch anti-drug policies.

Meanwhile, those who find themselves suddenly jonesing for a bowl of Antaga Taisho ramen may be out of luck, as the eatery’s page on user-based restaurant review site Tabelog lists it as being closed indefinitely in the wake of the incident.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan News/8 Kan Tele via Jin, Sankei West, Tabelog
Top image: Pakutaso