If you have spent any time in Nagoya at all, you’ll recognize the Yabaton pig. Yabaton is a staple food in the miso capitol of the world; it’s the home of the Miso Katsu renowned across the globe. Sure, serving the most famous Miso Katsu on the planet doesn’t place Nagoya or Yabaton on many people’s bucket lists, but if you love miso and fatty pork cutlets, there’s no need to bother making the list; Yabaton is heaven on earth.
The Dragons bailed out of that classic post-war diamond to their current dismal Nagoya Dome in 1997, but Yabaton didn’t go with them, so you won’t be eating Kushi Katsu at a Dragon’s game anymore (unless you smuggle in take-out). Too bad about the Dragon’s lackluster new home, but “Yabaton” had become a household word in Nagoya, and famous throughout Japan. People throughout the nation started to pilgrimage to the little Osu Kannon shop decorated in Chunichi Dragons regalia.
The other day my wife and I set out to eat at the original Yabaton. It’s not the crowded storefront on Otsu Dori. The old shop was behind it, on one of the narrow Osu pathways marked as a two-way street. Although my wife grew up here, she hasn’t lived in Nagoya regularly for ten years, but still somehow remembered just where the old place was. As we walked she told me about the cramped two story building with shared tables, diner style waitress, and a line of cooks behind the bar. When we arrived, famished, at the spot that her motor memory led us, the building she described so vividly… the classic restaurant… the Nagoya landmark… was gone. Japanese history once again meets the wrecking ball.