Japanese men baldly go into new Tokyo restaurant, with pride

Fri May 9, 2014 1:27am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Bald is beautiful at a new Tokyo restaurant, where follicularly challenged customers are welcomed with open arms and offered discounts not available to their hairier brethren.

The Japanese-style pub in Tokyo's Akasaka district, not far from the central government offices, encourages customers to embrace their loss of hair, not hide it.

"Baldness is a very delicate issue in Japan, but in Hollywood there are a number of stars who completely ignore their hairless state and proudly carry out their work," said owner Yoshiko Toyoda.

"I thought it would be nice to foster that spirit here."

Baldness is not as prevalent in Japan as in the West but it still affects 26 percent of men, says Aderans, a leading Japanese hairpiece maker. Genetics plays a major role, but stress among the nation's chronically overworked corporate "salarymen" is also blamed.

"When you first start to go bald, it's a huge shock, no question," said Shiro Fukai, 48, as he enjoyed a drink.

"Japanese businessmen have it really tough. The stress accumulates, then your hair begins to fall out."

Easing this stress was Toyoda's original inspiration for "Otasuke" - "Helping Hands" - which features the Japanese pub fare loved by middle-aged men, such as grilled chicken on skewers and stewed tripe, at low prices.   Continued...

Shiro Fukai, 48, drinks distilled spirit next to manager Yoshiko Toyoda (L) at the Otasuke "izakaya" style pub and restaurant in Tokyo May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai