One unique feature of the Japanese restaurant scene is what’s called the shokken, literally “meal ticket,” system. At a shokken system restaurant customers select their meal and pay in advance at a vending machine near the entrance. The machine spits out a slip of paper which is then handed to the restaurant staff in exchange for the food.
Shokken are especially common at restaurants that specialize in budget-friendly fare like ramen and beef bowls, because they allow the restaurants to operate with a smaller staff to keep costs, and in turn the prices they charge, low. The shokken system eliminates the need for workers to spend time taking orders, ringing customers up, and giving change.
There are other upsides too, in that it’s often speedier and more accurate than placing an order with a waiter. Plus, the reduced amount of human interaction makes it a lot easier to pay with bloodstained bills, at least for a few months until someone catches on and the police haul you in.
Compared to Japan’s holy triumvirate of beef bowl joints, Yoshinoya, Matsuya, and Sukiya, the chain Nakau has a pretty low profile (maybe that lack of a –ya at the end of its name is holding the chain back). Still, if you can find a location, Nakau serves up a pretty tasty beef bowl.
But don’t take our word for it. A Nakau in the Aoi Ward of Shizuoka City seems to have won the heart of one loyal repeat customer. And speaking of the cardiovascular system, that 42-year-old customer was recently taken into custody for feeding a bloodstained 1,000-yen bill into the restaurant’s shokken machine.
It’s worth noting that as a clean and fiscally conservative society, Japan’s paper currency is for the most part spotless. You’ll rarely come across a banknote that’s so much as crumpled, let alone torn or doodled on. So no doubt the staff of the Aoi Ward Nakau were puzzled when, starting last March, they’d occasionally open up the shokken machine at the end of the day to find its internals dirty with blood, and a bloodstained 1,000-yen (US$8) bill mixed in with the day’s take.
▼ Generally, when people use the term “blood money,” they’re not talking about honest profits from selling beef on rice.
So on the morning of May 26, when they saw a customer slip a 1,000-yen bill “sticky with blood” into the machine at around 9:20, they contacted the authorities. Upon questioning, the man readily admitted to what he’d done, and also said that he’d used similar hemoglobin-enhanced cash at the same restaurant “five or six times” previously.
According to reports, the man works in the nursing field, and as such there’s a good chance that he comes into contact with large quantities of blood on a regular basis as part of his law-abiding professional life, although it seems odd that he would be handling cash at the same time as batches of AB negative. So far, no statement has been made regarding how the man’s personal portion of the lifeblood of the economy became spattered with the lifeblood of people. He has, however been arrested and charged with obstruction of business operations, although whether said obstruction was the commotion caused by his bloody bills, the effect it had on the shokken machine, or some combination of the two has not been specified.
In the meantime, should you happen to have a grumbling stomach and a wallet full of similarly festive red cash, before heading out to pick up some chow we recommend laundering your money, either in the sink or with some violent mobsters.