Kayabuki: An Izakaya where Monkey Waiters Bring your Beer
There’s a somewhat strange izakaya in Utsunomiya, Tochigi. It’s been featured on TV all over the world from America to Australia and Europe so much that it gets more foreign visitors than the World Heritage site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine. And the reason is because of a very popular waitress. That waitress is… Ref: Photo
However, when you enter inside, it’s hustling and bustling. Yep, that’s because the employees are Japanese macaques. They started with 1 as a pet nearly 20 years ago and now they have several monkey staff.
What’s amazing is that they’re not just in the store—they actually work. They bring hand towels and beer. According to the owner, they watched people working and naturally copied them. Must be a monkey’s form of omotenashi (hospitality)! This spectacle spread across foreign media and YouTube in a flash. Currently the most popular staff is a monkey called Fuku-chan.
Additionally, they do all kinds of performances in the restaurant like walking on stilts or balancing on balls.
It may be enough just to see the monkeys but, of course, there are good things on the menu too. Utsunomiya is Gyoza Town so try the superb gyoza! It’s also a really good pairing with sake.
Related: 4 Additional Pieces of Info on Japanese Dumplings—the Latest European Craze!
Izakaya Kayabuki is where you can enjoy petting Japanese macaques, good drinks and good food all at the same time. The monkeys don’t come in direct contact with the food or drinks so you don’t need to worry about hygiene. By the way, apparently Fuku-chan isn’t paid in cash; she’s paid in bananas! lol
If you’re wanting to meet your favorite monkey, know the staff have a break from 20:00-22:00. Also, sometimes they’re closed to participate in unscheduled events in Tochigi. Please keep these things in mind.
2016 is the Year of the Monkey so how about a visit to the welcoming Izakaya Kayabuki? Information: Map