Yume Wo Katare is like no other restaurant in the city. There is often a line that goes outside and can be quite long, but this makes sense because there’s only seating for about 20 customers at a time in three elbow-to-elbow communal rows.
To walk in is to be transported to the world of Tsuyoshi Nishioka as well as your owns dreams. The first thing to hit you when walking in is the smell, which will have you drooling in an instant for the rich broth and noodles that are hitting and teasing your senses. Despite Mr. Nishioka’s modest claim that he is not really a great cook, he is actually fantastic and this bowl of food is everything one could hope for on a chilly Boston day, and then some. The second thing that hits you shortly after that is the atmosphere. This is a fun place. This is a place where dreams are collected and shared and modesty goes out the window in some respects.
There are only two items on the menu: ramen topped with pork and ramen topped with more pork. Already a good sign. But after a few moments in here you will hear a loud shout of jubilation from a staff member: either a “Good Job!”, “Almost!” or, “Perfect!” depending on how close to the bottom of your bowl you manage to get to. No pressure to get a perfect, but it makes Mr. Nishioka a little more happy to see one.
You will also hear someone stand up and do something brave and vulnerable. Take a momentary pause from your food and cell phone and give your full attention to the person who’s about to share something personal to a room full of strangers. When that person is you, you do it and there is a release. You feel good having said your dream out loud and are more solid in your standing in the world. Yume Wo Katare encourages every patron who walks through their doors to share their dream with the room in the moment after they are done eating. So far they have logged over 16,000 dreams shared and are going for the Guinness Record.
For Mr. Nishioka, Yume Wo Katare is much more than just a restaurant. It’s a vessel to spread happiness in the world. How a noodle shop can manage to do that may be a little confusing to some, but he has a plan and has been going at it in Boston for five years. “What is your purpose in life? Why do you live? My goal in life is to enjoy everyday. Life is now. I want to laugh everyday. I want to smile everyday. I have a dream. If I have a dream, I need to figure out how to achieve my dream. If I fail, I think more about what I have to do to achieve my dream. I am almost always happy. Sometimes I feel sad, but when I am, I remind myself its not a big problem, because I am alive. No matter what happens, its ok, because you are alive. Happiness happens right now. If you think about the future too much, you are creating an anxiety gap. If you think too much about the past, you can have regret. If you just think about this moment right now, you will always be happy.”
“After graduating high school, I started off as a comedian. My comedy brought me to a ramen shop. After five years I started to work in the ramen restaurant and the owner invited me to open a new branch. My first restaurant was in Kyoto, because there were many students there. My first restaurant had no line, but I worked hard and three years later, the line never stopped. For me now, a store with no line is strange. That is what I was used to. Now there are ten of my restaurants throughout Japan.”
“I feel a dream and find a dream that touches my heart and then I follow it with my head. That process is fun for me. It comes down to ‘Do I enjoy this or not enjoy it?’ If I enjoy the process it is not a challenge for me. I actually don’t know how to do a lot. My main skill is to make ramen, but my best skill is to share my dreams. Many Japanese are good at making ramen. I am not. I am able to support my dream because my team runs the restaurant well and It lets me focus on sharing my dreams.”
After being so successful in Japan, Mr. Nishioka could have gone anywhere in the world to start a new one. Why pick Boston? “My first location was Kyoto because there are many university students there and that is the same reason I picked Boston. In the Japanese restaurants, everyone just eats their ramen, so this one is very different. I go to Japan once a month.”
“I don’t care about profit or sales. We don’t keep track of that, we keep track of how many dreams we get. This is our real goal. Our ultimate goal is to have everyone in the world share their dreams. This years’ goal is to get 20,000 dreams. Next year, we want to have 40,000 dreams. We will count dreams forever. If there is a country or place where people don’t share their dreams, we want to open there. I am trying make a place where everyone feels comfortable sharing their dreams. Eventually I want people to exchange dreams rather than money and have people support each other through their dreams instead.”
Mr. Nishioka points to a jar of money by the counter. “People think this is a tip jar, but it is to pay for a meal for the next dreamer. Anyone who gets a “Good Job!” or “Perfect!” in here and shares their dream can donate and support the next dreamer. That cycle can go on and on. That’s one way to have a world where we don’t have to rely on money. Different generations of dreamers can support each other. If a student can’t afford to eat, they don’t have to pay, they only have to share their dream. When they achieve them, they can come back and pay it forward for the next dreamer.”
“Everyone has an ideal world but they think it is impossible, so they don’t try. We try to make an ideal world in here. People come in here to experience that world. People that come here often, can help make the world around them better and spread ideal places.”
Help Mr.Nishioka achieve his dream by heading to the Porter Square Shopping Area in Cambridge at 1923 Massachusetts Avenue.