Tweleve-year-old Yat-chan learned how to wait tables by spending time watching the staff at a sushi restaurant.
That would not be an especially noteworthy feat except for this: Yat-chan is a monkey, one of three who tend to customers at the Kayabukiya Tavern in Utsunomiya, Japan.
Together with his younger primate pals, Yat-chan offers hot towels to newly seated customers and then brings them their drink orders. As a matter of course the monkeys do not groom patrons’ hair, though if you are suffering from a bad bout of lice we suppose it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
When word first spread via YouTube (see video, below) of the Kayabuikya Tavern’s evolutionarly-challenged staff members it caused an outrage among those who assumed the animals were trained to replace human labor for the cost of peanuts. In fact, Yat-chan started tending to costumers on his own volition; one day he began bringing customer towels after he saw the restaurant’s owner doing the same.
(Also—and we suppose this is less to the point—the Kayabukiya’s monkey waiters do not technically work for peanuts but for tips of boiled soy beans. The monkeys enjoy their soy bean bounty during their work breaks, quite possibly along with a cigarette while hanging out (literally) in the alley behind the restaurant).
Each monkey is limited to working a maximum of two hours a day; the Monkey-Waiter Union is powerful like that. The monkeys are also forbidden from serving food although Kayabuikya restaurant regulars swear that the monkeys can understand meal orders.
The monkeys do not have set work hours but you’ll have the best chance of seeing them in action early in the evening. If you are in Tokyo and are looking for a larger monkey-themed travel experience go to the Kayabuikya Tavern by JR train (Utsunomiya is about an hour north) and then, after having drinks served to you by monkeys, head to Jigokudani and hop in the hot springs with monkeys.
Please note that photography inside the Kayabuikya Tavern is prohibited. Throwing feces against the walls is frowned upon too.
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