This is a two-part story; please go here for part 1.
Another year has passed by. Table number two was reserved and waiting eagerly for the mother and her sons to order their bowl of noodle soup. It was nine o’clock in the evening of New Year’s Eve. A “reservation table” card was placed at Beihai Pavilion noodle restaurant. The restaurant’s proprietor and his wife waited, but the mother and her two boys did not appear.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Receive selected content straight into your inbox.
In the following second and third years, table two was reserved, but it remained empty. The mother and sons did not appear again. The table was reserved each year for them, but no one came.
The business at Beihai Pavilion kept getting better each year. In time, the whole restaurant was renovated. The tables and chairs were replaced with new ones except for table number two, which was still the same.
“What is going on at table two?”
Many customers found the arrangements for table number two strange and asked about it. The proprietor’s wife told everyone about the story of the bowl of noodle soup. The old table was placed in the center of the restaurant, and it seemed to give hope to the proprietor’s wife that the mother and sons would return. She was hoping to welcome them again at their table.
Table number two became the “Fortune Table,” and customers spread the word from one to another. Many students were curious and came from far away to Beihai Pavilion to eat noodles to see the table. Many people specially booked to sit at this table.
Without realizing it, 10 more years had passed
Shop owners in the surrounding area of Beihai Pavilion would bring their families to the noodle restaurant after closing on New Year’s Eve. While eating, they would wait to hear the bell ringing in the New Year, and then everyone would go to the shrine to worship, which had been the custom for five or six years.
After half past nine on this day, the couple from the fish shop was the first to bring a large plate of sashimi, and then some people brought wine and food intermittently. It was often that 30 or 40 people would gather, and everyone felt the warmth of the atmosphere.
Everyone knew about the story of table number two, but they did not say anything. They thought the New Year reservation table might not be empty this time to welcome the New Year.
People were eating their noodle soup, some were drinking, and others were busy going in and out preparing dishes. Everyone was eating and talking about business, even on matters like sea bathing, grandchildren, or everything they could think of. They were all mingling like a close family.
After half past 10, the door was suddenly gently pulled open again. Everyone stopped talking and looked in the direction of the door. Two young men wearing straight suits with coats in their hands walked in. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the lively atmosphere resumed.
Just as the proprietor’s wife was about to say: “Sorry, the house is full,” a woman in a kimono walked in and stood between the two young men. All the customers in the restaurant held their breath, listening to the woman in the kimono slowly ask: “May I trouble you? Is it okay to prepare noodle soup for three people?”
The face of the proprietor’s wife immediately changed. After more than 10 years, the image of the young mother and her two children instantly reflected in her mind. The proprietor behind the kitchen counter was astonished and pointed at the three persons interactively: “You!”
One of the young men looked at the overwhelmed proprietor’s wife and said: “Our mother ordered a bowl of noodle soup on New Year’s eve night fourteen years ago. That bowl of noodle soup gave us the courage to live strongly.
Soon after, we moved to live with our grandmother in Shiga Prefecture. I passed the medical examination this year and interned in pediatrics at Kyoto University Hospital. I will be coming to Sapporo General Hospital in April next year.
We visited the hospital first, then went to my father’s grave to worship. My brother, who used to be a noodle shop owner, now works at the Bank of Kyoto. I discussed with my brother that one of the grand plans for this New Year’s Eve is for our mother and both of us to visit Beihai Pavilion in Sapporo to eat noodle soup for three.”
The proprietor and his wife nodded slightly while listening with tears in their eyes.
The vegetable shop owner sitting near the door swallowed the mouthful of noodles in his mouth, then stood up and said: “Hey, hey, boss, what’s wrong? I have been waiting for this day for ten years, so what about the New Year’s Eve reservation table after ten o’clock? Please hurry up and serve them!”
The proprietor’s wife regained her composure and said: “Welcome, please be seated! Then, she told her husband: “Three bowls of noodle soup for table number two!”
The proprietor wiped his tears and replied to his wife: “Yes, three bowls of noodle soup!”
This story has no ending
Although you could say that the events of the story unfolded over 14 years, there is no end to this story of A Bowl of Noodle Soup. It will forever inspire and nourish the hearts and minds of everyone who hears of it.
When this story was published in Japan, more than a million readers, including teachers, parents, and children, were moved to tears by the strong mother in A Bowl of Noodle Soup and the two little brothers who were sensible and willing to endure hardship.
People were especially moved by the kindhearted noodle restaurant proprietor and his wife. They are not tears of sadness but tears moved by the sincere love and generosity of the reader’s hearts and the inspired good thoughts.
From a financial point of view, it did not cost the noodle shop proprietor an incredible amount for the noodle soup. The kind and warm heart, the sincerity of their welcome, and their sincere: “Thank you, Happy New Year!” gave the mother and her sons the courage to face the problematic situation and walk through those difficult days.
This made all the difference. Good deeds were also rewarded, and the business of the noodle restaurant thrived.
Translated by Chua BC