No business like monkey business at Japan tavern

Tue Oct 7, 2008 8:40am EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Good help proving hard to find? A Japanese tavern is relying on monkey business to keep customers happy.

The Kayabukiya tavern, a traditional "sake house" north of Tokyo employs a pair of Japanese macaque called Yat-chan and Fuku-chan to serve patrons.

The younger of the two monkeys, Fuku-chan, hands out customers a hot towel to clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan.

Yat-chan, who is about 12 years old, also hand out towels but serves drinks as well.

"Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant. It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer," the 63-year-old owner of the tavern, Kaoru Otsuka, told Reuters.

Both monkeys are household pets and are certified by the local authorities to work at the tavern. They clock in a maximum of two hours a day and are appreciated by customers who tip them with boiled soya beans.

"The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones," customer Takayoshi Soeno.

For some clients, the monkeys are the main attraction at the tavern, and owner Otsuka, who received three new baby monkeys this year, is hoping to train them to work as well.

"We called out for more beer just then and it brought us some beer! It's amazing how it seems to understand human words," said 71-year-old retiree Miho Takikawa, who said she came to the tavern specifically to meet the monkeys.

(Reporting by Hiro Muramoto, writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Rodney Joyce)