Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Photo: My Modern Met
Sekai Kobayashi allows customers to work 50-minute shifts in order to earn their meal.

This story is such a good example of how diversity breeds creativity. The restaurant entrepreneur here got her ideas about a new model of eatery, an open-source eatery, from her former techy career. In the same way, having diversity in a workplace or other organization, including diversity of thought, can be a kind of power pack (as my 3-year-old granddaughter would say) for the mission.

Jessica Stewart has a report at My Modern Met, “Don’t have enough money for a hot meal? That’s not a problem if you are dining at Tokyo’s Mirai Shokudo (aka Future Eatery). Since opening its doors in 2015, owner Sekai Kobayashi has allowed customers to work 50-minute shifts in order to earn their meal at the small eatery, which seats 12 people around a small counter. Kobayashi, a former software engineer, sees the system as part of her ‘open source’ restaurant concept, where the participation of customers helps the business.

“The idea struck her while working for a recipe website, Cookpad Inc., which has an in-office kitchen that staff could use. Encouraged by her colleagues’ compliments, she decided to leave behind her work as an engineer and open her own restaurant. Now, in a little over two years, more than 500 helpers have worked with Kobayashi — who runs Mirai Shokudo by herself — and earned a meal by doing so.

“Ranging from university students looking to save money to a former teacher in her mid-50s hoping to move into the food industry, there’s always someone new in the kitchen. And for Kobayashi, this is part of the joy.

‘I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money.’

“This desire to give back doesn’t just end with a free meal. The former engineer takes things a step further, even sharing the finances of her restaurant with the public, … she shared with China Daily.

“ ‘I posted the restaurant’s business plan and finances on its website so I can collect input from the public on how to make improvements.’ Not only does it help her, but it also serves as a resource for others who may be interested in opening their own restaurant.” More here.

Hat tip: Boston Public Radio with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, a show I really enjoy. It airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

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Photo: Book and Bed Tokyo

As you may know, there are hotels made of ice and vacation accommodations in tree houses and tiny houses, but have you heard that in Tokyo, you can bed down in a bookshelf?

As Dominique Mosbergen reports at the Huffington Post, “There’s nothing better than cozying up in bed with a good book … or, as in the case of this Japanese hostel, a few thousand of them.

“Book and Bed is a small, 30-bed hostel in Tokyo where guests sleep in snug little cubbies hidden behind library shelves laden with books. (The word ‘snug’ may even be generous here, as the larger of the two room offerings measures just 6 by 4 feet).”

The hostel’s website is honest, Mosbergen reports. “ ‘The perfect setting for a good night’s sleep is something you will not find here. There are no comfortable mattresses, fluffy pillows nor lightweight and warm down duvets,’ the establishment warns. …

” ‘What we do offer is an experience while reading a book (or comic book). An experience shared by everyone at least once — the blissful “instant of falling asleep.” It is already 2 a.m. but you think just a little more … with heavy drooping eyelids you continue reading’ …

“It costs upwards of $34 a night to stay at Book and Bed. Each room comes with a simple mattress and reading light. There’s also free Wi-Fi.” More here.

As much as I love to read, I’m not sure I’m adventurous enough to sleep in a bookshelf. If I ever go to Japan, a traditional ryokan would probably have more appeal.

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In a Nippon article by Sakurai Shin, translated, we learn about urban bee culture in Central Tokyo.

“The urban bee farm is the work of the nonprofit Ginza Honey Bee Project, or Ginpachi, founded in March 2006 by Tanaka Atsuo.

“It started when Tanaka, who rented out space in Ginza, learned from a beekeeper that it might be possible to raise honeybees on the roof of the Kami Parupu Kaikan building. From this location, Tanaka learned, the bees could gather nectar from Hibiya Park and the grounds of the Imperial Palace, both within a radius of around three kilometers. Bees are highly sensitive to pesticides and other environmental pollutants, but the Imperial Palace is relatively free of agrichemicals. In this sense, Ginza turns out to be a surprisingly good area for beekeeping. …

“In the 10 years since the Ginza Honey Bee Project began on one corner of a Ginza rooftop, the ripple effect has spread to other parts of Tokyo and far beyond. There are now more than 100 urban beekeeping projects nationwide, and more in South Korea, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia.

“ ‘Ten years ago, of course, we never imagined the project would have such an impact,’ Tanaka says. ‘I think it’s because people have been able to make it into their own project, reflecting local conditions and responding to local issues.’

“Tanaka also credits the honeybees themselves, emphasizing what human beings can learn from contact with these industrious insects.

“ ‘For example, when I see the bees returning to the rooftop from their flight around Ginza, I can tell from the pollen stuck to them that it’s safflower season, or the tochinoki [Japanese horse chestnut] trees are in bloom. Spending time with the bees puts us in touch with the natural world and its changes. Ginza may seem an unlikely place to be tackling environmental issues, but it’s becoming that sort of neighborhood.’ ”

More here.

This lovely story came to me by way of blogger Asakiyume.

Photo: Nagasaka Yoshiki/Nippon.com

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Treehugger recently featured some rather magical lamps in the shape of mushrooms.

Kimberley Mok writes, “Whether they glow in the dark or are uncommonly rare, mushrooms are the incredible, unsung heroes of the natural world. They can bio-remediate oil spills, potentially cure diseases, and when used in your garden, can lessen its need for watering. Now, thanks to Japanese artist Yukio Takano, you can even have a LED version of them on your desk, transforming any mundane workspace into one of glowing, fungal wonder.

“Made with glass, salvaged driftwood and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs and unique little light switches, Takano — who creates under the name The Great Mushrooming — seems to get the little details right enough to make these lamps look like the real thing (they come with hidden battery packs, to up the authentic-look factor, apparently). …

“Takano’s mushroom lights are one-of-a-kind, and while he sells at design fairs like Tokyo’s Design Festa, according to blogger tokyobling he doesn’t ship them abroad, due to the fragility of these glassworks. You can always feast your eyes over at Yukio Takano’s site The Great Mushrooming and visit the portfolio.”

More styles at Treehugger, here.

 Photo: Yukio Takano

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