More eateries in Japan serving up social good as the main course

More eateries in Japan prioritising inclusivity, work-life balance over profits

Ms Sekai Kobayashi quit her IT engineer job to open 12-seater eatery Mirai Shokudo in Tokyo's Jimbocho district. The restaurant is built on the idea of an inclusive community, allowing customers to help out in exchange for a meal, which they may also
Ms Sekai Kobayashi quit her IT engineer job to open 12-seater eatery Mirai Shokudo in Tokyo's Jimbocho district. The restaurant is built on the idea of an inclusive community, allowing customers to help out in exchange for a meal, which they may also donate to the needy.ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM
Ms Akemi Nakamura (at centre) owns Kyoto eatery Hyakushokuya, which closes each day after serving just 100 meals. None of its workers works beyond 5.30pm. PHOTO: HYAKUSHOKUYA
Ms Akemi Nakamura (at centre) owns Kyoto eatery Hyakushokuya, which closes each day after serving just 100 meals. None of its workers works beyond 5.30pm. PHOTO: HYAKUSHOKUYA
Chinya owner Fumihiko Sumiyoshi shuns excessively marbled meat for sustainably grown produce. ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM
Chinya owner Fumihiko Sumiyoshi shuns excessively marbled meat for sustainably grown produce. ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM

Depending on when you visit, the kitchen assistants at Mirai Shokudo - a socially innovative eatery in the heart of Tokyo whose name means "future cafeteria" in Japanese - may be high school students, the unemployed, or even foreign tourists.

The 12-seater restaurant, built on the idea of an inclusive community, allows customers to help out in exchange for a meal, which they may also donate to the needy.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2020, with the headline 'Serving up social good as the main course'. Subscribe