A sobering soba experience.

On 20 June an unmanned soba stand opened up on Platforms 11 and 12 of JR Ueno Station in Tokyo. Word is that this place called Self Eki Soba is fully machine operated and can serve up a fresh bowl of soba in a little as 90 seconds.

This intrigued our reporter Mr. Sato who decided to go down and check it out. However, knowing the tendency for new restaurants to be flooded with people on opening day, he decided to wait two days for the crowds to die down.

As he approached the small eatery, he saw some cute artwork featuring traditional Japanese monsters known as yokai in the window. This was because the equipment for Self Eki Soba was designed by American food tech firm Yo-Kai Express, the same company that created the automatic ramen making machine in Narita Airport.

“Soba is automatically served. Is it the work of yokai? No, no, it’s actually a robot making it.”

However, just as he was about to enter he noticed that the entire place was closed. That seemed odd since it was the middle of the day and this restaurant only opened a few days ago.

A sign hung on the window explaining the situation.

“Dear customers,

Thank you for visiting our restaurant today. We will be closed for maintenance today due to problem with the Yo-Kai vending machines.”

Already needing a full day of maintenance work only two days after opening was concerning, and another sign on the window provided more details of the sort of problems the robot-run noodle stand has been having.

“Dear Customer,

Thank you very much for using the Self Eki Soba Ueno Joban Platform Store. Since opening on 20 June (Tuesday) a lot more customers than initially expected have come to the store, so the product manufacturing system has not been able to keep up and we have been forced to limit the number of shipments to the store. Therefore, for the time being the store will close as soon as it runs out of stock.”

The modified schedule has simply replaced all closing times with “when stock runs out,” suggesting that they don’t see themselves being able to produce enough noodles to keep up with a full day’s demand anytime soon.

Mr. Sato, was left with his soba cravings unsatisfied, but solemnly and knowingly bowed his head as he muttered, “It’s all right, soba-robo, take it easy for now.”

It was said that this stand was partly set up as a sort of experiment to find labor shortage solutions, so it’s forgivable to have some hiccups getting off the ground. Unfortunately, this meant no soba for Mr. Sato on this day, but for both humans and machines, it’s important not to work beyond one’s capabilities. Hopefully, he’ll get to try some robot noodles some other time in the future.

Restaurant information
Self Eki Soba Ueno Joban Platform Store / セルフ駅そば 上野常磐ホーム店
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno 7-1-1, Platforms 11 & 12
東京都台東区上野7丁目1-1 11・12番線ホーム上
Open 6:00 a.m. (Weekdays) / 6:30 a.m. (Sundays & Holidays) – When stock runs out

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]