Are you running a restaurant and can’t afford to hire waiters? Well, you could take a cue from this Japanese restaurant that hired monkeys for the job. And in an attempt to make them look more human, they even strapped masks on their faces. Not that they really fooled anybody.
The restaurant in question is Kayabuki, in the Miyukihoncho part of Utsunomiya, North of Tokyo. The place is a traditional ‘sake house’, which makes its choice of staff even stranger – a couple of monkeys named Yat-chan and Fuku-chan working as waiters (or waitresses, we’re not sure). 16-year-old Yat-chan is the older of the two, but he moves quickly between tables as he takes the customers’ drink orders. Fuku-chan gives diners a hot towel and helps them clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan. Believe it or not, the pair is actually certified by local authorities to work at the restaurant. The customers like them as well, so they get tipped with soya beans. One customer, Takayoshi Soeno said, “The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones.”
Photo: Budget Trouble
Yat-chan and Fuku-chan started off as the household pets of the owner, Kaoru Otsuka. But the older one started imitating him in restaurant duties and that’s when he realized they were actually capable of working there. “Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant,” he said. “It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer.” Some customers even feel that the little monkeys are just like children, or even better. 62-year-old Shiochi Yano, a regular at Kayabuki, says, “Actually they’re better. My son doesn’t listen to me but Yat-chan will.” Customers also say that Yat-chan is able to understand exact orders and remember them. “We called out for more beer,” said one customer, “and he just brought us some beer. It’s amazing how he seems to understand human words.”
Photo: A.Y. Ikeda
Japanese animal-rights laws only permit the apes to work at the restaurant for two hours a day. But Otsuka plans to bring up another generation of monkey-workers, and has 3 baby monkeys in the pipeline already. Here’s one place you do not want to miss if you’re ever in Japan and are looking for unique dining experience.