If you’re planning a trip to Japan, make it a point to head to Utsunomiya and head to a sake house called Kayabukia Tavern. From the outside, it looks like a traditional-style Japanese restaurant. The food is primarily asian comfort food with items such as dumplings, bbq chicken, and various rice dishes to choose from but the waiters are kind of hairy. Well, at least two of them are… because, well, they are macaque monkeys.
The owner of the tavern has two macaque monkeys who work about two hours a day and dress in a shirt and shorts. One monkey delivers you a hot towel while the other one brings you your drinks. Kaoru Otsuka, the owner, did not train his pets to be servers. They watched their owner work and began mimicking his movements. One day, Otsuka gave a towel to one of his monkeys to see if he would deliver it to the right customer and he did! In time, they have become pros and receive tips from the customers in the form of soya beans.
Animal rights regulations do not allow the monkeys to work for more than two hours a day. Otsuka has been working with three more monkeys since this has become a huge draw to his restaurant. If you are hoping to be served by the macaque monkeys, it’s recommended you call ahead to find out their shifts. Don’t worry, they won’t groom you. Just be prepared to give up some of your edamame as a tip and thank you to the macaques.