Now that the novel coronavirus pandemic has prompted Japanese companies to take measures to protect the safety of their employees, many of them are teleworking to avoid taking public transportation and work in a safer environment.

The need for social distancing has naturally impacted the restaurant industry as well.

However, mihaku Inc., which operates ryōtei 料亭 (luxury Japanese restaurant) chains Kyoto Hyoki 京都 瓢嘻 (pronounced kyōto hyōki), Kasuitei 香水亭 and Kyoto Hyoto 瓢斗 (pronounced kyōto hyōto) in the Kyoto and Tokyo area, has found a way of turning this difficult situation into an opportunity to provide a much-needed service in these difficult times, opening up their elegantly appointed private rooms to the benefit of teleworkers at an incredibly reasonable price.

According to their press release, they had been hearing various opinions about the challenges of teleworking. For example, some people are discovering that it's difficult to secure a calm and quiet environment at home, others don't want to work in cafes or co-working offices because they're worried that sharing the same space with an unspecified number of people will put them at risk of getting infected. Yet others are saying they're tired of eating plain meals at home and they sometimes want to eat professionally prepared food.

Gourmet lunch and telework plan

Imagine being able to dine on succulent pork shabushabu or sukiyaki, or enjoy a bento with premium seasonal ingredients for lunch, then work for up to seven hours in a beautiful Japanese tatami-matted room, with a complimentary pot of green tea, free WiFi and charging, all for as little as JPY 2,500. You can even extend your time to 10 hours if you also have dinner.

Visit the respective websites of Kyoto Hyoki, Kasuitei and Kyoto Hyoto to explore their lunchtime menu options.

Kyoto Hyoki Ginza main store. Courtesy of © miharu Inc.

The lighting is a bit subdued, so you are free to bring in your own portable lighting if you need more. The restaurant's background music will be playing at low volume. If you want to take a nap or a break, you're free to lie down and rest on the tatami mats during your stay.

Kyoto Hyoki Ginza main store. Courtesy of © miharu Inc.

Finally, all thirteen participating restaurants are implementing additional cleaning measures to ensure your safety, hand sanitizer will be available and all staff will wear masks whenever possible.

Conditions and information

Reservations are required to use this plan. Visit the respective chain's websites listed below to reserve.

To participate, you need to enter the premises between 11:30 and 13:30 at Kyoto Hyoki's seven Tokyo restaurants (12:00 to 13:30 at the Nishi Azabu location), between 11:30 and 13:30 at Kasuitei's three Tokyo restaurants (12:00 to 13:30 at the Roppongi location), between 11:30 and 14:00 at Kyoto Hyoto's two Kyoto locations and between 11:00 and 15:00 at its Tokyo location.

The minimum lunch order for the telework plan is JPY 2,500 at Kyoto Hyoki and Kasuitei and JPY 2,300 (plus a separate private room charge) at Kyoto Hyoto.

For groups, each person is required to order the stipulated minimum for the plan.

The maximum possible stay, assuming you arrive at the earliest possible time, is seven hours with lunch.

You can extend your stay to ten hours if you also order dinner. Dinner prices start at JPY 2,700 (at Kyoto Hyoto), but you'll receive a 500 yen discount if your dinner order is worth over 6,000 JPY before taxes.

You are free to leave and re-enter the restaurant during your stay.

Family members, including children of elementary school age and under, may also participate.

For the complete list of locations, visit the respective websites below:

The lunch and telework plan will be offered indefinitely.

By - Ben K.