“Rules” in Japanese restaurants – Shinya Shokudou

7 Oct

This is a 10-episode live-action TV drama based on a Japanese manga series called ‘Shinya Shokudou’ (Midnight canteen). This TV drama is played by Kobayashi Kaoru, and it broadcast in October 2009. The story revolves around an old fashioned all-night food stall which is located in a narrow alley in Shinjuku. This eatery names “Meshiya”, but customers call it “Shinya Shokudo” because it is only open from midnight to seven o’clock in the morning. Although its standard menu only consists of one dish, Pork with Miso Sauce on Rice, and three types of alcohol, Beer, Sake and Shochu, the proprietor is still willing to cook any dish that customers request.

Rules in Japanese restaurants

Most of the Japanese restaurants, like Shinya Shokudou, have their own rules. E_ting notes that ‘Shinya Shokudou’ has numerous ‘funny’ rules such as ‘customers are forbidden to order more than three drinks’ and ‘customers are allowed to order any dish as long as the owner has the ingredients’. Those kinds of rules have never dampened customers’ enthusiasm for having dinner in Japanese restaurants. Instead, customers are willing to follow the rules and come continuously because they can enjoy the owner’s hospitality, and can dine in a relaxing and heart-warming environment. This is one of the reason why Japanese restaurant are worldwide popular. However, not all of the Japanese restaurants manage to attract customers by imposing their own rules.

Notorious rules in a Japanese restaurant in Sydney

An online news article from the Sydney Morning Herald reported that in Sydney, a Japanese restaurant called Wafu was about to close within a few months due to its sequence of notorious rules which scared away its customers. Ichikawa claimed that she aimed at receiving respect from her customers. Following the rules she set was a way for customers to show their respect for her and her restaurant. There is a very interesting rule, which is listed in the photo at the right hand side.

“Say ‘itadakimasu’, when served”

Ichikawa, the owner of Wafu, believed that saying ‘itadakimasu’ before having meal is one of the fundamental elements of Japanese table manner. However, it is a Japanese restaurant in Sydney, but not in Japan. Ichikawa should also respect her customers, especially to those who have different cultural background. Customers have rights to have their meal in their own way, haven’t they? Or to put it another way, will you expect non-Christians to pray before they eat?

“Rules” in Japanese restaurants are supposed to enhance the relationship between the owner and customers, and also to create a comfortable environment for customers to enjoy their meal. Perhaps Ichikawa has already stayed at Sydney for too long that she forget what a real Japanese restaurant should offer to customers.


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