JDO Field Trip: Hachikyo



This exacting restaurant will charge a fine for every grain of rice you've left behind

Shaming wasteful children into realizing that food is not a thing to be taken for granted is the job of every parent with the luxury to do so. The Hachikyo restaurant in Sapporo, Japan has also taken on the task of teaching wasteful people to appreciate their food, but with a much different (and possibly more effective) strategy than the old "starving kids in Africa" standard.

In Hachikyo, you are allowed to eat only after you agree to the restaurant's rules. That is, if you leave even one grain of rice on your bowl, you will have to pay a fine, but that is merely the beginning.

Before the waiters serve their specialty, tsukko meshi (Salmon Roe) they serve the rice. You are not to eat any of the rice, or push the rice down in the bowl before the tsukko meshi is served on top. Disturbing the rice is grounds for having your tsukko meshi revoked.

After a short time, the waiters begin to serve the tsukko meshi. As they spoon the salmon roe onto your rice, they yell out an old sea shanty, in which the diners have to yell back. This, combined with the tight, shanty-like atmosphere, kind of makes you feel like you're getting your food right off the docks.

At first, the threat of a fine for leftover food and the hoops you have to jump through to get served in the first place seems like a way to take advantage of people's limited appetites and limited patience, but there's actually a rather altruistic goal in mind. The owner, Hitoshi Sugita, says that the reason for the fine is not for profit, but to pay respects to the fisherman who provided the tsukko meshi in your bowl. Fishing is a dangerous and potentially deadly profession, so you either pay respects to the fishermen with your stomach or your wallet.

Fines and rituals aside, Hachikyo offers a huge bowl of stsukko meshi for about 1,890 yen (about $20), which is a pretty decent deal considering the amount you eat; just be sure to clean your plate, or be ready to pay up.