Welcome to Tanpopo Studio where we will take you on a culinary journey to Japan with the eye of an experienced chef and hospitality professionals.  

Nineteen years ago in Minnesota, our mission was to introduce culinary side of Japan to our customers by offering healthy, made-from-scratch Japanese food.  Nearly twenty years later, after successfully operating Tanpopo, our passion now takes us to Japan to see where and how food is prepared and to fully experience what Japanese food is all about.  

Please come and join our small group, chef guided culinary trips, where each trip is unique and experience the amazing food, culture and hospitality Japan has to offer.  

Happy Travels!!

The Tanpopo STudio Team

Koshiki Yonemura Smith


I was born and raised in a small island off Kagoshima, Japan by Norwegian-American mother and a Japanese father who practiced self-sufficient lifestyle.  After moving back to US and graduating from University of Minnesota, I decided what Twin Cities needs is a neighborhood Japanese noodle shop.  In Spring of 2000, together with Benjamin Smith, we opened Tanpopo Noodle Shop.   I live in St. Paul, Minnesota with my husband, two young boys, three chickens and our dog, Buttercup.

Some of my previous work experiences:
* Culinary Instructor at Cook's of Crocus Hill (2005-present)
* Co-founder of Tanpopo Restaurant (2000-2017)
* Menu Consultant for Shoyu restaurant at the MSP Int. Airport
* Interpreter for General Mills Marketing Team during Nagano Olympics
*Transit Assistant (TA) at MSP Int. Airport (1994-1996)




Benjamin Smith

I'm from Minnesota. I spent a period of time skiing and studying engineering in Colorado and then traveling. 

When we opened Tanpopo Noodle Shop, it was mostly in diy undertaking. We did much of the architectural design, remodeling, woodworking, and of course the food ourselves.  I have about 17 years of cooking experience and took on the ramen, kimchi, pickle and dessert making roles at Tanpopo. I love small businesses and believe they are the fabric and character of the places we live.I hold a high regard for nature, farmers, crafters and makers of the world

Kai Yonemura


I grew up in Japan but also spent a period of time in Minnesota. I studied bread making at Dunwoody College in Minneapolis. I am a craftsman, home-builder and an outdoor enthusiast who resides in Yamanashi prefecture with his family. I am Co-owner of Makigai Bag Shop - we specialize in high-end, custom made bags using fine Scandinavian textiles.

I am fluent in Japanese and English, and I like to spend my free time remodeling my home and baking bread in my outdoor oven.