A Japanese pub deep in the heart of white-collar Tokyo wants to help out their customers whose heads are showing the consequences of too much stress and hard work (and perhaps a bit of genetics too).
The restaurant hopes that instead of covering their heads with a complex comb-over or taking a cue from monks to shave it all off, “salarymen” white-collar workers treat their thinning hair as a badge of honor and proof of their dedication to help the struggling Japanese economy. And to show their support, the restaurant has announced a generous “balding discount” as a way of thanking follicly-challenged gents for sacrificing their precious locks for the country!
“Otasuke,” which translates roughly to “huge help,” opened earlier this month in the Asaksaka district in central Tokyo, and has grabbed national attention for their customer outreach efforts. A sign outside the shop declares their full support for “hard-working fathers losing their hair” over their stressful jobs.
Restaurant manager Yoshiko Toyota said that she and the owner came up with their business idea after volunteering in the recovery efforts to rebuild the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan. Toyota saw how the hard-hit area was being helped economically by the rest of the country and wanted to find a way to support those white-collar workers who in turn are helping to rebuild Tohoku.
Toyota explained that she thinks thinning hair is a “badge of honor” and wanted to say thank you to all the salarymen who are driving Japan’s economy. To say thanks, Otasuke gives a special “balding discount” to any person who comes in and admits their baldness to the waitstaff. The restaurant seems to accept a wide definition of “balding” and will give the discount to anyone who “shows their baldness” to a server.
▼ Ads for baldness and scalp treatments have become increasingly common in Japan
The discount is aimed at groups of customers who eat at the buffet (which includes all the alcohol or soft drinks your white-collar body can handle in two hours) on the second floor, where all the tables sit six people. The buffet normally costs 3,780 yen (US$37) for men and 3,240 yen for women, but bringing along a balding friend can score you quite a bit of yen off the group’s final bill.
The somewhat complicated discount works as follows: having one bald customer in the group will take 500 yen ($5) off the total bill. Two bald customers saves the group 750 yen. Three bald customers nets the group a 1,000 yen discount. Four bald customers results in 1,500 yen knocked off the group’s bill, and having five bald or balding customers will give the group a voucher for one free buffet.
But the ultimate discount is saved for a group of six bald diners who get a yet-to-be-determined “top secret” surprise.
The bar on the first floor of Otasuke also offers an informal “balding discount,” which is determined at the on-duty manager’s discretion. The restaurant may give balding customers a free appetizer or a free sampling of their many Japanese sakés from the Tohoku area.
Also in the works is some sort of special “balding menu,” Toyota said. One of her ideas is a hard-boiled eggs with some cut seaweed on top to resemble a comb over. (We suggest a creative use of broccoli sprouts)
Although some Japanese netizens wondered how strict the restaurant would be in their definition of baldness and whether skinheads are welcome, many applauded the restaurant’s very unique form of support for the Japanese economy and the reconstruction of Tohoku in particular.
“Let’s assembly a balding army and go!”
“My time has finally come!”
“I want to send this to my friends, but I’m afraid they’ll be offended…”
What do you think of this restaurant’s outreach to the balding community and its connection to Tohoku relief efforts? Is it a good, if strange, idea or do you agree with the netizen who thinks that this is no laughing matter and asks, “How many hundreds of yen will these sad saps throw away their pride for?” Let us know in the comments below what you think of Otasuke’s balding discount!