The coronavirus pandemic might have left many restaurants empty, but one establishment in Tokyo is relying on some model customers to enforce social distancing: life-like mannequins keeping diners from getting too close.
Masato Takemine’s Chinese restaurant looks busy even as many businesses in the city deal with a dearth of clientele, with ladies in ornate Chinese-style dresses and a girl in a kimono among those seated at his tables.
But the 16 customers are actually mannequins he has placed randomly at tables to keep diners from getting too close.
“At first I removed some of the tables to have more space in between, but it then looked so lonely, as if the restaurant was under renovation,” Takemine said.
“With these mannequins, the restaurant looks busy from the outside, and I can make sure customers are distancing themselves. “It’s also fun, giving us a jolly feeling,” he giggled.
While Japan has avoided the devastating tolls in places hit hardest by the coronavirus, many restaurants shut their doors during a state of emergency and even after it was lifted in May, the industry has seen customers shun eating out.
Takemine’s restaurant Kirin Saikan in downtown Tokyo reopened in late May but sees about half the number the customers it did before the virus, he said.
Among those returning was 51-year-old Tetsuya Kimura, who said he was startled when he walked through the entrance curtains for the first time after the reopening and saw the mannequins.
“These dolls look so real that I need some time to get used to them,” he said, tucking into a bowl of noodles at a table he was sharing with a child mannequin.
Takeichi Otomo, 82, another frequent customer at the restaurant, said he struggled to not look too shocked at the beginning.
“I still get startled when I come here,” he said with a straight face. “This is a crazy idea!”
While the mannequins keep the restaurant from feeling too empty, Takemine said he often thinks with longing about when his customers could visit with family and friends and enjoy carefree laughs and chats over platters to share.
“I don’t think we can go back to those times for many months,” he said. “I am just hoping we will return to normal while creating an environment where people can eat and drink safely.”
One often hears that the people of Taiwan are 98 percent Han, a complicated cultural term that is often used to imply a certain genetic relationship as well. Yet among the pre-1949 population of Taiwan, roughly 45 percent are descended from immigrants from Quanzhou (泉州) in China. Who might these people be? In medieval times Quanzhou was one of the world’s greatest ports, a melting pot of peoples from India and northeast, southeast and central Asia, along with Han and other peoples we now identify as “Chinese.” Merchants from Quanzhou competed in the southeast Asian textile trade, shipping cottons from India
COVID-19 has been racking the world, and there’s hardly a person alive who doesn’t want to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. Taiwan of course has proven to be an island of safety during this epidemic. In appreciation of that as well as giving 2020 an early send off, Brandon Thompson, Adoga, and Taipei Next have prepared a fitting music fest, “Forget 2020” or in the vernacular, “F#ck 2020.” It’s a late-night-early-morning festival where you’ll hear some 30 vocalists and musicians performing many of your favorite songs from the past two decades. Expect hits from the rise of Bruno, Slim,
NOV. 23 to NOV. 29 Japanese researchers initially thought that the Saisiyat Aborigines’ Pasta’ay festival was a New Year celebration. A drawing of a Saisiyat man dancing with a kirakil, a ceremonial headdress used during the Pasta’ay, appeared in a 1906 issue of Record of Taiwan’s Customs, where the author noted that it “represented reverence to their ancestral spirits.” Ten years would pass before the Temporary Taiwan Old Customs Investigation Committee published the earliest description of the ceremony. “The Pasta’ay is held to worship the Ta’ay people, who were a diminutive race living in the caves of the Maiparai Mountains,” the
A row over a Thai woman who held up a placard alleging sexual abuse in schools has put a spotlight on harassment in the education system even as she draws threats of legal action for misrepresentation and attacks for soiling Thailand’s image. The issue is the latest on which discussion has become more vocal as an anti-government protest movement seeking reform of the monarchy also emboldens people in a society where conservatism has often constrained criticism of the powerful. “I hope my case will raise awareness for people in society, for students in schools, for adults who send children to schools, for