Japanese Pub Shaves Prices for Bald Customers

Bald is beautiful at ‘Otasuke’, a new restaurant in Tokyo that has recently introduced discounts for the follicly challenged. Its management seems to have a soft spot for the bald, so they’ve slashed prices for men struggling with a receding hairline. Located in the Akasaka district in central Tokyo, Otasuke has been making headlines since its grand opening earlier this month.

‘Otasuke’ roughly translates to ‘helping hands’ in the local language. A sign outside the shop declares that the business fully supports ‘hard-working fathers losing their hair’ over their stressful jobs. ‘Be bald, be proud,’ it says. According to owner Yoshiko Toyota, she came up with the idea after volunteering in the efforts to rebuild the Tsunami-struck Tohoku region. When she saw how hard-hit the area was, she wanted to find a way to support the white-collared workers who are in turn helping out in Tohoku by driving Japan’s economy.

“I was thinking of some way to help support salarymen, but without a theme the idea was lame,” she said. “Then one day I was walking downtown and kept seeing bald guys. That was it.” Baldness affects 26 percent of Japanese men, and stress is a major factor. 48-year-old Shiro Fukai, a customer at the restaurant, said: “When you first start to go bald, it’s a huge shock, no question. Japanese businessmen have it really tough. The stress accumulates, then your hair begins to fall out.”


Photo: video caption

Yoshiko said that she wants people to view balding heads as a ‘badge of honor’ rather than a sign of ageing and stress. She wants to discourage people with thinning hair from hiding it with a toupee or shaving it off completely. So she’s offering a ‘balding discount’ to patrons who are willing to come in and admit their baldness to the waitstaff. “Baldness is a very delicate issue in Japan, but in Hollywood there are a number of stars who completely ignore their hairless state and proudly carry out their work,” she said. “I thought it would be nice to foster that spirit here.”

The discount is meant for groups of customers who eat at the buffet, including all the drinks they can manage in two hours. Normally priced at 3,780 yen for men and 3,240 for women, the buffet on the restaurant’s second floor could cost significantly lower if you bring along a bald or balding friend. One bald member in the group can bring the total price down by 500 yen. Two bald customers equals 750 yen. It’s 1,000 yen for three and four gets the group a 1,500 yen discount. Five balding customers will earn them a voucher for one free buffet.


Photo: Yahoo Japan

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a special offer for six balding customers as well. That’s the ultimate discount – a secret surprise that is yet to be revealed. There’s an informal balding discount on the first floor, too. It’s offered only on manager’s discretion, like a free appetizer or a free sample of their varied Japanese sakés. Yoshiko said that there’s also a balding menu in the making, including creative recipes such as hard-boiled eggs with some cut seaweed on top like a comb-over.

Otasuke has been receiving a lot of praise from the Japanese media as well as their customers, for their unique way of supporting the Japanese economy. “My time has finally come!” said one bald patron. “Let’s assemble a balding army and go!” said another. But a few people have fears of their own: “I want to send this to my friends, but I’m afraid they’ll be offended…”


Sources: Reuters, Yahoo Japan

Posted in Travel        Tags: , , , , ,