Like many other people, I love eating udon noodles—but I also enjoy watching it as well.
By that, I mean watching udon making. Udon Ono(小野ウどん) is an udon-making performer in Japan. He came up with “udon performance”, a unique art of making the nood while being accompanied by music. We were lucky to get a chance to chat with the udon master himself on his work!
Q. Why did you decide to become an udon performer?
A. I just tried it and got really into it.
There’s no special reason. Before I was an udon performer, I didn’t have specific dreams or things I wanted to pursue. I just liked noodles and Japanese history, so I decided to give udon making a shot-- and I got really hooked. I would have quit if I didn’t get so into it.
I don’t think people need to constantly have dreams or always aspire to do something special, but for people who are in midst of pursuing something, I want to say one thing—be decisive. If you keep thinking of reasons why your dreams might not come true, you won’t get anywhere. You need to tell yourself, “this is what I’m going to do”, and if you keep working at it steadily, I believe you’ll reach your goals.
Q. So what is udon performance? What’s so interesting about it?
A. It uses not only your taste buds but also your other senses, like sight and hearing.
I put a “pick up” machine (a machine that turns sound into electricity) on the udon-making board. Whenever I beat the dough, I beat it as if I’m playing a taiko drum while being accompanied by music. I think what’s unique and interesting about the performance is that it uses your other senses, not just taste or smell—it blends delicious food with a performance aspect. There’s issues surrounding successors and handing down of Japanese traditions and skills, but I hope udon-making performance can put more focus on the actual process and craftsmen behind the noodles.
Q. What are your future goals?
A. To raise the value of udon craftsmen.
I want to bring back the culture of hand-made udon noodles and raise global awareness of udon artists. Within Japan, I want to increase opportunities for people to get involved in udon-making, by including it in existing events. I also am working to improve my performance, hoping that in a few years it’ll be at a level where the audience- even those from abroad- can enjoy.
Q. A message to our readers living abroad?
A. I’ll try to visit your country soon.
So please come see my performance. Japan has pursued and perfected the art of good Sanuki udon noodles, and I hope you’ll be able to taste it yourself.
Biography: Udon Ono(小野ウどん)
・Ono was born in 1990 in Ehime Prefecture.
・He began his udon training in 2012, and started his performance gig in 2016.
・He abandoned his house in 2017 to have a mobile lifestyle, living in a car and exchanging goods for living. He also started his udon bar.
・In April 2016, he raised funds through crowd funding to travel to New York for a performance. He also hosted a performance at Fuji Rock Festival in July 2016.
・He has been featured in TV shows, including NHK’s “U29” and TV Tokyo’s “Kokoro no Engine”
・Official website: https://www.hakumenshi.com/
Photos has taken by Kota Wada