Take Eat Easy. Diner with local Miyazaki flair

Translated by Aki Sugawara

There's a bar in Obi, the heart of Nichinan city in Miyazaki prefecture where people involved in regional and traditional housing revitalization projects quietly gather, like the wise men in "Training Day." The atmosphere is similar to an old rural diner, tastefully worn and weathered around the edges. It's called Ginnoo.

Not your typical hipster hole, while eccentric and full of local color it doesn't call attention to itself--and that's the way owner Yuji Ono likes it.

"If you want to eat mainstream Miyazaki cuisine, then you should probably go elsewhere (laughs). We use mostly locally sourced ingredients, and the arrangement is unique as well," said Ono.


Nichinan is known for its regional revitalization initiatives that bring the younger generations back to the city, who had gone to urban centers like Tokyo for work. Store owner Ono falls into that category, and after working for years in bars/restaurants in Tokyo and Saitama had boomeranged back to his hometown.


He's also quite the artist, as shown by this basketball manga homage he drew with chalk for a year-end party. If you discuss with him beforehand, he can arrange custom illustrations for your own celebrations as well--a cool, personalized touch.

Get refills and keep the lemons coming


The mantra is inscribed on his business card--"Take Eat Easy"--riffing on "take it easy," which embodies the laid-back vibe of his eatery. Taking sips of his renowned "ultimate Nichinan lemon sour" (600 yen), I lounge in the plush sofa seat.

My drink (of many refills) uses Nichinan-produced lemons, known for their mild sweetness. There's a cut and honey-like flavor to it that has me chugging the drink down like it was candy.

Refills are available for half price at 300 yen, the glass brimming with fresh lemons--a unique characteristic to Ginnoo.


The à la carte menu includes lots of meat dishes and rich ajillo, but since I wanted something light I went with green-onion-enveloped chilled tomatos (650 yen), fresh from the fields of Miyazaki.

For those that want something heartier there's also nanban-style fried chicken (950 yen), black yakisoba (800 yen), and thick fried asparagus (950 yen).

Drift in from the downtown streets of Obi


Such local watering holes can often be too unapproachable for outsiders, especially since this one looks like a windowless shed. But Ginnoo has a welcoming, unpretentious quality to it that appeals to people irrespective of status or upbringing. A supremely comfortable place to share a drink with friends, Ginnoo reflects the under-the-radar appeal of Nichinan's hip subculture.



Address: 2-5-7 Obi, Nichinan city, Miyazaki prefecture 889-2535

Phone: 0987-25-2039

Hours: 6pm - 11pm (closed Tuesdays)

Special thanks toNichinan city
Welcome to Nichinan: the town in motion
Obi, a castle town where tradition, modernity and art meet
Standing at the batter’s box overlooking the field, I see stone walls of an old feudal-era castle on the other side, along with a historic-looking ...
For the best seafood when traveling, head to the local fish market
In Nichinan city of Miyazaki Prefecture--famous for its pole-caught katsuo (bonito)--there are any number of spots where you can find great seafood...
Eating the best chicken I've ever had at Sumibiyaki Sankuu
The person who showed me around Nichinan (a small city on the coast of Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu) told me two intimidating details about the rest...
120-year-old abandoned school in Japan turns into eclectic marketplace
Drive down south on Route 220 from Miyazaki city, and while traversing next to the glittering Nichinan beaches you’ll encounter (the former) Ushio ...
5 charming points of Nichinan City
We go to all kinds of locales for our work, and sometimes we’re surprised how much more there is to explore—often leaving us with a sense of “we sh...
10 popular spots in Japan's "gateway to the tropics"
Once upon a time, Miyazaki Prefecture was a popular honeymoon destination. Beginning in the 1960s, scores of couples made it their place to visit f...
Forest bathing, now moss therapy--the lush woods of Inohae
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku may envision having a hot-tub in the woods, but it's a relatively new concept birthed in Japan in the '80s. Inohae ...
Traditional cooking, Edo-era lodging in a preserved castletown
"Good morning!" said a lively group of grade-school students, even bowing their heads towards me as we walked by. It's an unexpectedly polite gestu...
One social media post, one ton of citrus sold--Nichinan's sweet lemons
When thinking of food that goes viral, you tend to imagine the colurful, lavish or outlandish--like a Unicorn Frappucino. A social media initiative...
Yuzu-flavored beer offers a taste of Nichinan microbrew
In recent years microbreweries have spread throughout Japan, thanks in part to the Japanese government easing brewing laws in 1994, with people no ...
Man drops out of college, now run his own strawberry farm at 25
When thinking of farmers, typically you’d imagine someone older, weathered from long days spent baking in the sun, and with a stiff, salt-and-peppe...
Aburatsu hostel doubles as a sports bar, hangout spot
Hostels are typically an option born out of thrift and adventure--a place to connect with like-minded backpackers, and saving on lodgings to maximi...
Hooked on a fisherman’s meal at a bonito angler’s district
Eating bonito isn’t commonplace stateside, except for maybe the flakes used as a garnish. In Japan it’s not uncommon to have the fish seared or raw...
Udo Jingu, one of three rare descending Shinto shrines
While gazing at the Pacific I walk through a cave, eventually reaching the vivid vermilion shrine. For my wishes to be granted, I throw undama (sto...
JAPAN LOCAL's guide to Shibuya, Tokyo
On the surface Shibuya is a neon-bathed urban hub, with swarms of high-schoolers and business people flocking to mega department stores, multi-stor...
Kurousagi's goya chanpuru challenges Okinawan fast food culture
Following the Second World War, Western-influence into Okinawan food is undeniable. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, "U.S food p...
Longevity and serving authentic Okinawan soul food for over 40 years
Okinawan local cuisine is obscure even for Japanese, and if known is an acquired taste. So when I landed in Okinawa, I wanted to have exotically Ok...
Aomori’s beautiful WWI-era Starbucks revamped with local artisans
Starbucks has its own characteristic, if not inert, atmosphere and design, making more people feel welcome. But due to its Seattle, Washington root...
Nostalgic Osaka pub serves comfort food with a loyal following
What makes a restaurant something you want to keep coming back to?Eating can be every bit about ambiance as well as taste, a nuance that's within t...
Standing bar with 135-year history hidden in plain sight in Shibuya
Even by Tokyo standards Shibuya is a city quick to move on, whether in continually rotating fast-fashion, or even with larger businesses that get l...