Japan Introduces Monkey Waiters; Blogger Scratches Another Business Plan Off His List

A Japanese sake house near Tokyo has stolen one of my ideas and employed monkeys as waiters—one brings hot towels to customers when they sit down, and another takes orders and delivers bottles of sake. They’re tipped in edamame, which U.S. waitstaff should seriously consider since you don’t have to report it, and since the dollar will soon be worth about the same anyway. Our favorite quote from the article: “‘The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,’ customer Takayoshi Soeno said.” Hold on to your hats, there’s video footage below!

The owner kept the monkeys as pets, but saw one of them copying him one day, so he handed him a hot towel and watched him bring it to a customer. Now he’s deliberately training three more, which actually concerns us a little. Two monkeys is hilarious, but put five monkey waiters together and you’re risking a monkey union, which we imagine won’t be quite so enjoyable—imagine Sally Field throwing her poo at the other factory workers instead of scribbling on cardboard.

“The Amazing Monkey Waiters” [Daily Mail via MetaFilter]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    What happens if one of those monkeys is found to be spitting in the food (or worse). What’s “damn dirty apes” in Japanese?

  2. GoVegan says:

    Its sad that we have to use animals like this for our entertainment. This is not OK and not amusing. Also, consider the fact that many animals are abused and beaten as a form of “training” to get them to do stunts like this. The sooner we learn to treat all living beings with respect and dignity, the sooner this world will be a much better place.

    • kyel57 says:

      @GoVegan: How can you jump to conclusions like that? I completely agree with you that animals should be treated with respect, but you’re making assumptions that probably aren’t true. Why can’t we use animals for entertainment? They’re getting paid, just like movie stars.

      • GoVegan says:

        @kyel57: You mean that their “owners” are getting paid just like movie stars. I am not assuming anything but I do know that people have a long history of abusing animals to turn a profit. I also understand that there are exceptions to every rule but a lot of people throw respect and dignity out the window when profit is involved. Unfortunately we don’t just treat animals like that but other humans as well. My conclusion is that I hope he is treating his monkeys well and they are happy but I highly doubt that is the case.

    • Clobberella says:

      @GoVegan: Did you RTFA? The monkey started performing these “stunts” all on his own. The only difference is that now he is rewarded for his efforts with delicious edamame.

      • GoVegan says:

        @Clobberella: Yes I read the article and saw that there was 1 monkey doing this on his own. It mentions nothing about how the other monkeys got started or what happens when that 1 monkey decides not to do his act anymore. On a side note – I just love Consumerist. Where else can you go on the net and have a debate about monkeys as a consumer based issue? This is probably the last place in America where freedom really exists. :)

        • Darkest Daze says:

          Simple, if they decide to stop doing his act, he then becomes the new appetizer.

          • Marshfield says:

            @Darkest Daze: Too bad we don’t accord teen-aged jeans models the same respect we have for dumb animals. If you think the monkeys are exploited, surely the humans are too…

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @Marshfield: True. But while some of us admit to having sex with (briefly) jeans-clad, teen-ish models, not quite so many of us admit to doing the hot-n-heavy with monkeys. Err, while sober.

              @se7a7n7: Funny. I always assumed that it was the cats that were running things on The Planet of the Apes. From behind the scenes of course, as is their nature.
              Exhibit A: monkeys weren’t allowed to drink milk.
              Exhibit B: no visible containers of Perfect Oatmeal. Anywhere.

    • pigbearpug says:

      @GoVegan: You’re just jealous of all the soybeans the monkey is getting, vegan.

      Seriously though, many species of animal enjoy being trained and challenged. Monkeys are one of them, as are alskan sled dogs. Just because the monkeys are not in the wild does not mean they are being abused.

      • equazcion says:

        @anyone: You really can’t expect to be able to argue with someone with “vegan” in their name.

        To answer his question, when the monkeys decide to stop, perhaps they end up on the plate. The Japanese eat some odd things, maybe they would eat their own waiters too.

    • Valhawk says:

      @GoVegan: I was going to make some snide remark about PETA crying, but you already made the standard PETA plea.

    • Fist-o™ says:

      @GoVegan: I can’t even wrap my brain around why you think the way you do. This monkey is not being harmed in any way. God…

      Your attitude is so extreme that I almost want to think you’re baiting us; a Troll.

    • Eric1285 says:

      @GoVegan: Surely you must be kidding? You must be one of those people who thinks anyone who eats meat is a horrible person. Your standard response to seeing someone eat meat is probably “have you ever been to a slaughterhouse?”

      Actually, I have – and I enjoyed a delicious burger right after.

    • Haltingpoint says:

      @GoVegan: First off, don’t tell me what is and isn’t amusing. Frankly I think monkey waiters are incredibly amusing…as are vegans for that matter.

      Second, you have absolutely ZERO evidence to justify you spouting off about your suspected mistreatment of these animals. They explain how they trained the first, and there’s no reason to think the others could/would not be trained in the same way.

      I personally think you are just trolling and being an “angry vegan on a crusade” without any real facts (for this specific situation, not saying animal abuse does not occur).

      Drop the party line already and get over yourself.

    • neko613 says:

      @GoVegan: Get real. These animals aren’t close to being abused in the environment mentioned above. They have learned through behavior modeling, something quite common in animals like monkeys and other species of apes. The monkeys realize that a certain behavior grants them tasty food, so they keep doing it. It’s called survival. Same with human behavior, yet I don’t see you damning parents for educating their children how to survive outside in society and make a living. So are parents all of a sudden considered “abusing” their kids for teaching them how to do math or read a book? Oh please….

    • neko613 says:

      @GoVegan: Also, the perspective of “entertainment” is relative. If you believe that a being of higher order such as god or a family of deities exists, then we are essentially his or their entertainment for the eternity they live are we not? So should these divine beings be damned they created us and granted us life? Likewise, you might not think it’s entertainment, but the monkeys themselves may. Just as we have a curiosity of other species, other animals do as well. The monkeys may just as well be entertaining themselves from satisfying the curious animals who smile at them when they do an act they still don’t quite understand, and in return these animals hand them food the monkeys like.

      • equazcion says:

        @neko613: I disagree with our vegan friend too, but your reasoning is also slightly retarded. Speaking in defense of people who believe in god, they don’t believe we’re here for his entertainment. And even so, saying that we can act like gods to lower life forms? Also retarded. If you’re going to argue about god you need to first understand what people who believe in god consider him to be. It’s not a hierarchy where he’s the general, ergo we must be the lieutenants and the monkeys are privates. More like god is grand marshal dictator supreme, over everything. We have no rank in the system.

        Not that I necessarily believe in god. But I felt I had to point that out.

  3. HClay says:

    Interesting, but somehow I feel bad for the monkeys. I guess because they’re fellow primates and have familiar facial expressions, seeing them trained to serve people makes me feel like they’re being just a tad bit exploited.

  4. avantartist says:

    I simply love this… it made my day.

  5. Luckie says:

    Well, call me politically incorrect, but I think it’s adorable. Surely if the monkeys are seen being abused, someone will notify the proper authorities and they will take care of the monkeys.

    I would totally go to this restaurant, pet the cute monkeys, and give them edamame.

  6. MissTicklebritches says:

    I hear that the first thing they teach in journalism school is that monkeys = funny.

  7. dragonfire81 says:

    This reminds me of that simpsons episodes where Bart wanted all the Monkey butlers.

  8. Parting says:

    Ok, this is kind of creepy. It reminds me of original ”planet of the apes”. Wasn’t that how monkeys rebelled against humans, in the first place?

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    (waiting with baited breath for some ornery a commentator to loudly exclaim that if the damned monkey wants edamame so darned much then the employer should supply it. And how no matter how much monkey-waiter wants it, customer ain’t giving it.)

    (also waiting for feces-throwing, table-jumping, simian retort)

  10. CaliCheeseSucks says:


    Really, though, if you can’t see the funny in this, you’re trying like hell to be offended.

  11. se7a7n7 says:

    @Victo, I think that in Planet of the Apes world, 1st all the cats & dogs died from some sort of epidemic. Then monkeys were used to fill peoples’ house pet void. The monkeys evolved, took over and several years later Marky Mark shows up.

  12. rockasocky says:

    I would never go to this place…… I have a deep-seated, inexplicable fear of primates. Come on, don’t tell me none of you imagine the monkey bringing you a towel and then jumping up and CLAWING YOUR EYES OUT! And then you’d catch the Motaba virus and die.

  13. shoegazer says:

    The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,

    Classic. Remind me to bring up the monkeys in any future waiter-related posts.

  14. KStrike155 says:

    That is really incredible and sometimes I’m just so amazed at how human-like other species are.

    It seems they get smarter all the time.

  15. equazcion says:

    Bart: “And every night, the monkey butlers will regale us with jungle stories.”

    Nelson: “How many monkey butlers will there be?”

    Bart: “One at first. But he’ll train others.”

  16. Novaload says:

    They are following in the fine tradition of Jack the Railroad Baboon (Google it) who reliably operated a remote railroad switch and befriended a handicapped man.

    I think the real ethical quandry, which the Supreme Court should possibly start pondering, is when a Washo, for example, signs that she does not want to participate in the research any more.

  17. dancing_bear says:

    When you employ 50 monkeys you have to hire a monkey HR manager and comply with Monkey FMLA.

  18. chiieddy says:

    If he gave them typewriters, would they write Hamlet?

  19. Brenden says:

    For those interested, the bar in question is actually located in Utsunomiya, about 100 minutes north of Tokyo on the Utsunomiya or Shonan-Shinjuku Line.

    The Izakaya (Japanese bar) itself (Kayabuki) is located slightly closer to Okamoto station, near the Hiraide industrial park.

  20. HogwartsAlum says:

    I would be concerned that they are being treated well, but I have to admit, this is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time!

  21. BeeBoo says:

    We should be using trained monkeys to pick the head lice off infected school children.

  22. Dustbunny says:

    Once again, this proves my theory that monkeys make EVERYTHING better.

  23. Quilt says:

    Sounds like a bunch of monkey business to me.

  24. Ftp1423 says:

    This works until they start flinging poo because they got stiffed on a table.

  25. winstonthorne says:

    Monkeys are not cute; they are terrifying. This is the scariest f’in thing I’ve read in a very long time.

  26. komodork says:

    This is more than a year old! I’ve seen it probably a year and a half ago!

  27. AgentTuttle says:

    Here’s a metaphorical story for you. I know an older gent who worked on Smokey & the Bandit and said that the trainer was quite cruel. Years later he read in the paper that the same trainer went into a bar and left the monkey in the car. He, the monkey, had just reached the age where they learn that they are ten times stronger than you, so he got out of the car and went into the bar. Apparently he kicked the shit out of the trainer and a bunch of other people who tried to break it up. Several broken arms resulted, none belonged to a monkey.

  28. savvy999 says:

    What do you tip a monkey? Do they even understand what money is? My guess is that they would rather have a tasty morsel of food than the standard 20% of the bill.

    In which case, this would be a total win-win for Americans. The monkey reduces your total serving size (by eating half your plate), your meal is overall cheaper.

    Awesome. I so want a monkey, but the whole feces-flinging thing is dealkiller.

    • manicsoprano says:


      “They’re tipped in edamame, which U.S. waitstaff should seriously consider since you don’t have to report it, and since the dollar will soon be worth about the same anyway.”

      They’re way ahead of you on the tipping thing. Hooray for veggie tips!

  29. SinisterMatt says:

    I think that this is an interesting and charming idea, but, ethical discussions about whether animals should serve humans aside, I wonder if somehow this is going to blow up in the owner’s face when some customer of his provokes these monkey/waiters into biting the customer. That’d be my only concern, since there is probably a low risk of disease if the owner does well to keep the “hired help” clean.

    Won’t someone think of the monkeys? (I kid, I kid)


  30. frodo_35 says:

    Ohhh Yoshi I have way to much that waiter looks like a monkey.

  31. downwithmonstercable says:

    But we already have a monkey as president…

    HEYOOOOO!!!! Someone had to say it.