Feeling hungry but have an empty wallet? If you’re in Jinbōchō, Tokyo, then consider yourself lucky! Head to Mirai Shokudo, a restaurant which allows you to choose between paying or working 50 minutes for your meal.
Mirai Shokudo, meaning “Future Eatery”, was opened by Ms Sekai Kobayashi in 2015. She aimed to create “a place where everyone is welcome and everyone fits in”. There are no staff other than Ms Kobayashi herself, and the restaurant seats 12 around a small counter. Her customers can either pay for their meal (the daily lunch special is 900 yen — SGD10.50), or help out at the restaurant for just 50 minutes by doing tasks like serving other customers or cleaning tables.
“Instead, we offer meals in return for 50 minutes of labour at the restaurant. I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money.” Ms Kobayashi says, when asked about her unique scheme. Moreover, those who have offered their labour but do not wish to eat there will receive a coupon for a free meal which they can deposit at the restaurant’s entrance for others to use.
Since the opening of her restaurant, over 500 people, including university students, have opted to work for their meal, in order to save money. Ms Kobayashi’s former teacher, who is now 56 years old, frequently helps out at the restaurant. She commented, “It’s an exciting job because I work with a new person every time. It’s interesting to develop a good rapport and work with others.”
I think that this is actually a very good idea as it can help many people, especially teenagers who are studying and have no jobs yet. Working 50 minutes to get a free meal can not only help them save money, but also allow them to gain experience working with other people, which will be useful for them in the future.
Jing Rung (4F)