If you happen to find yourself in Nakanojo 中之条町, Gunma Prefecture, with some time to kill waiting for the bus heading to Shima Onsen or train returning from there to Tokyo (or elsewhere), you’re naturally going to leave the tiny train station and head out looking for sustenance. This town of fewer than 20,000 isn’t much to look at, but does boast a few promising restaurants. Unfortunately some, including the best looking spot, a fairly high end soba restaurant, were closed either because it was Sunday or due to vacation.
Right next to the closed sobaya was an unassuming tonkatsu shop (竹の家 / Bamboo House) that we decided to try, and upon ordering a couple of different lunch sets, were rewarded with well-cooked, juicy, good quality cutlets – and blessed air conditioning to escape the brutal humidity.
The interior seems fairly standard, but then as you gaze about, your eye lights upon some quirky elements including a whimsically decorated second level high up in the rear of the shop, with various mythical creatures perched on the floor and affixed to the rafters.
There is also a vintage poster of what I took to be a film actress named Rubin Riki, but it turned out I was reading the katakana backwards – it was an old poster for Kirin Beer! LOL
Afterwards we visited an artisanal miso shop across the street (こうじや / Koujiya) and picked up some bags of their product. They also produce some creditable homemade gelato, so we got a scoop each of the lemon and the miso. Pretty good stuff.