• he earliest memory I can clearly recall from my hometown of Kurume, is when my parents took me to Dairyu Ramen. I think I was about 8 or 9. I have had tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen several times before that, but this place was shockingly delicious and different. The intense aroma of tonkotsu, and the rich but refreshing after taste of the soup had me hooked. From that day on, it became my weekly routine to get takeout from Dairyu Ramen on Sunday afternoons.
  • The town of Kurume back then, despite its large size, wasn’t as prosperous as Fukuoka City. However, we had several movie theaters in the neighborhood. In the long, arcaded shopping streets called Ichibangai and Nibangai, were four movie theaters. I don’t think there was a new movie that wasn’t showing. I grew up with a gifted education from my oldest sister, 12 years senior, who repeatedly made me watch the “Blues Brothers” when I was about 3 years old. So, by the time I entered elementary school, I was naturally keen to go to the movie theater.
  • My first experience at the theater was seeing “Goonies” with my relatives. Next was “Labyrinth”. This one was influenced by my second sister, 10 years my senior, who liked David Bowie. These two experiences accelerated my love for the movies to the point where I petitioned my parents to let me go even by myself. On weekends, I would enter the theater early in the day, watch two movies, and I’d come out to the evening sky. The air of the town was different from when I came in, and I loved that feeling. Looking back on it now, I was very fortunate for that environment, and the time I spent at the movie theater in Kurume have, most definitely, catalyzed the birth of “comedian Kogaken”.
  • I took interest in fashion a little after. I was in fourth grade when my older sister, who was attending college in Tokyo then, sent me a box full of clothes that were about to become trendy. A dapper kid at that age – I was wearing shorts of pile fabric, paired with Irish Setter type boots on my feet (laughs). You never saw an elementary school kid in Fukuoka dressed like that, so I was heavily roasted by my friends. Even so, that didn’t stop my passion to seek for clothing stores in Fukuoka City. With the allowance I had at the time, it was barely enough for me to afford the round-trip train fare, and I could hardly buy anything I wanted, but it was pure joy to be exposed to new brands and unfamiliar culture at various stores. I will never forget the thrill of passing through the countryside from Nishitetsu Kurume to Tenjin Station on the train.
  • I first encountered NEPENTHES during my teens at a boutique in Imaizumi. First thing I bought was a pair of corduroy pants with patch pockets. It was a great pair, and I guess I wore it well (laughs) because my friends copied me. The brands at NEPENTHES are unique in that it is both classical and sophisticated, and it has this essence of fine quality and sexy, which makes it appealing like no other. My younger self often gave up thinking “I’m not deserving of that yet…”, but with each age I feel like more and more items are becoming suitable to me. Normally, I think fashion becomes more conservative as one gets older, but thanks to NEPENTHES, I am able enjoy and play with my boundaries of fashion.
  • I still return to Fukuoka consistently, partly to film some of my regular TV shows, and partly because since November of 2021, I have been appointed as a “Kurume Hometown Ambassador”. Each time I return, I recognize the warmth of the people. There is also a good mix of urban life and nostalgic locality that exists, which are attractive aspects for a “place to live”. Not right now, but someday I would like to part from Tokyo to live in Fukuoka again.
  • f I were to recommend a restaurant in Kurume, I’d like to start with the long-established gyoza shop called Gojuban. The gyoza, served on a sizzling cast-iron pan, is wrapped in a delicious chewy pastry that is fried until crisp on one side. For ramen, it would be Kurumeya Ramen in Bunkagai, only open during the night. As the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen, Kurume is represented by the famous Dairyu Ramen and Taiho Ramen to name a few, and many other shops that are classified as either “kokudo” or “shokudo” style according to the flavor of their soups. I personally think Kurumeya Ramen falls right in the middle. And finally, the popular Italian spot Nonbeitei. If you know, you know. This place is what we call “itameshi” (Japanese-Italian fusion), and their famous beef tongue skewer is out of this world. It’s a bit of a sidetrack from a local Fukuoka delicacy, but if you are ever in Kurume, it is a dish I would want you to try.

/ Dairyu Ramen Aikawa Branch
7-13-45 Higashiaikawa, Kurume

Founded in 1966, this longestablished ramen shop has represented Kurume. Their standard ramen (680 yen) has a recognizable thick, rich broth made exclusively from Japanese pork bones.
Kogaken : Born in 1979, in Kurume, Fukuoka. Comedian. While popular for his comedy unit “Oideyasu Koga” with partner Oideyasu Oda, Kogaken also is active as a “movie enthusiast comedian”, having written numerous movie critiques and specializing in reenacting Hollywood scenes.

Words : Kogaken
Edit : Daisuke Inoue
Styling : Ai Suganuma (TRON)
Photography : Hidetoshi Narita
Hair & Make-up : Katsuyoshi Kojima (TRON)