At Tokyo’s Social Enterprise Cafes

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FOOD: At Tokyo’s Social Enterprise Cafes

Springing up across Tokyo, a new wave of social
enterprise eateries are making a positive impact one cup of coffee, or a bowl
of soup, at a time. Read on for four inspiring cafés on a social mission.


1. Social Good Roasters

Opening earlier this year in Tokyo’s Kanda
neighbourhood, Social Good Roasters is a café with a
conscience, employing individuals with conditions such as Down syndrome and
autism to run the show. Functioning as a coffee bean roaster and café, Social
Good Roasters equips staff with the skills they need to run the café and
encourages those with special needs to engage and connect with the local

Social Good Roasters: Landpool Kanda Terrace 2f, 1
Chome-14-13 Kanda Nishikicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0054


2. Ory Laboratory Robot Café

An innovative tech firm are behind a new fleet
of robot waiters, specially designed to be controlled by people with ASL, and
other debilitating diseases. Allowing the physically impaired to work remotely
as waiters, Kentaro Yoshifuji, CEO of Orby Lab, wants to “create a world in which people
who can’t move their bodies can work too.”
Lab’s OriHime-D robots made their debut this autumn in a temporary Asakusa
café, and Yoshifuji hopes the concept will take off, with more companies adopting
the technology, particularly in the lead up to the 2020 Paralympics.


3. Sign With Me

Sign With Me is a
no-frills social enterprise café which employs the Deaf and those who are hearing
impaired. Visiting customers can enjoy a simple menu and peaceful atmosphere,
communicating with staff by sign language, gesturing, or using tablets to write
requests. The concept has been so successful that owner Masahiro Yanagi has now
opened a second branch, and hopes to create a franchise business that will help
promote sign language and hearing loss awareness.


4. Mirai Shokudo

Stuck in Tokyo without enough yen for a hot meal? Mirai Shokudo or Future Eatery is a restaurant with
a difference – offering the chance to earn yourself a meal by working a short
shift in the kitchen. Since opening in 2015, Mirai Shokudo has offered free
meals in exchange for 50-minute shifts, in what owner Sekai Kobayashi describes
as an ‘open source’ restaurant concept, where customer participation helps the
business. Kobayashi hopes that her restaurant will help hungry people who
couldn’t otherwise afford to eat out, and even makes her business model and
finances public online, in the hope that others might be inspired to launch a
similar project.

Mirai Shokudo: 2-6-2 Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda, 101-0003, Tokyo

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