Monkey waiters and a slew of cute cats are the main attractions in these otherwise typical Japanese restaurants in Utsunomiya.
The Kayabuki tavern in Utsunomiya not only survived the global recession three years ago, it has also attracted tourists who want to experience being served by monkeys. Kayabuki trained two monkeys, Yacchan and Fukuchan, to serve beer, take orders and payments and deliver changes to customers.
First-time customers who have no previous knowledge of Kayabuki’s working animals have mixed reactions to this creepy practice. The monkeys are dressed in knee-length skirts and groomed with shoulder-length wigs and human masks complete with red lips and trimmed eyebrows.
The owner of the tavern has all the reasons to keep the monkeys. Thanks to Yacchan and Fukuchan, the restaurant became a household name among international tourists in the nearby city of Tokyo. The Fenners of Michigan saw the monkey waiters in Youtube and dropped by the tavern during their visit to Tokyo. The Fenners haven’t seen anything like Kayabuki before, and their homeland is unlikely to emulate this concept due to animal rights law. But the local health department doesn’t give a crap as long as the monkeys work only 2 hours a day and wear clothes.
Although some customers find it abhorrent to be served by monkeys, others find them a better waiter compared with human staff. These monkeys voluntarily offer hot towels to customers and may even attract large tips from beguiled drinkers.
Animal lovers would also love to dine at the Felis cafe where cats wander through the floor and mingle with customers. There are 30 cats living in the cafe, according to manager Hiroyuki Morota.
The cats were litterbox trained and certified to be disease-free and healthy. You’re free to hug, cuddle and feed them, bring them with you on the table or have them take their nap on your lap. Sales proceeds are used to house and feed these abandoned cats.