The amazing monkey waiters that serve tables in a Japanese restaurant

October 11, 2008

A Japanese restaurant has changed the face of customer service by employing two monkeys to help with the table service. The Kayabukiya tavern, a traditional ‘sake house’ north of Tokyo has employed a pair of uniformed Japanese macaque called Yat-chan and Fuku-chan to serve patrons. Twelve-year-old Yat-chan is the crowd-pleaser as he moves quickly between tables taking customer drink orders. The younger of the two, Fuku-chan is quick to give the diners a hot towel to help them clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan. Yat-chan and Fuku-chan, who are both certified by the local authorities to work in the tavern are well appreciate by customers, who tip them with soya beans. ‘The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,’ customer Takayoshi Soeno said. Tavern owner Kaoru Otsuka, 63, originally kept the monkeys as household pets – but when the older one started aping him he realised they were capable of working in the restaurant. ‘Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant,’ he said.

‘It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer.’

A regular of the tavern, 58-year-old Shoichi Yano, says the animals are like her children.

‘Actually, [they’re] better,’ she said. ‘My son doesn’t listen to me but Yat-chan will.’

Some clients, like retiree Miho Takikkawa, say Yat-chan appears to understand their exact orders.

We called out for more beer just then and it brought us some beer,” she said. “It’s amazing how it seems to understand human words.’ The monkeys work in shifts of up to two hours a day due to Japanese animal rights regulations. But the owner is hoping to bring up the next generation of monkey waiters, and is already training three baby monkeys to work as waiters. Watch the skilled monkey waiters at work

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