Japan, where the cramped comfort of an izakaya, huddled face to face business meetings and wedging oneself into a densely packed subway train are culturally entrenched, has not fared well with COVID-19 era social distancing. This being Japan, however, there is, of course, a cute, fluffy solution to this problem: the capybara.

Izu Saboten Animal Park, a zoological park on the Izu Peninsula boasting an impressive collection of cacti and various animals, has deployed stuffed capybaras and red pandas to ensure social distancing is maintained in their GIBBONTEI restaurant. The stuffed animals share a seat with diners, providing ample helpings of adorable fun and also social separation for sanitary purposes.

The GIBBONTEI restaurant was refurbished and reopened in 2018, and almost immediately the presence of capibara plush toys drew attention from charmed customers. Now the restaurant has changed the seating layout so that every customer must sit alongside one of the big fluffy beasts as opposed to a fellow human. Given the theme of the restaurant is “animal forest”, this feels quite natural and helps customers to relax as they bathe in the adorable aura of giant teddy bears whilst eating.

In addition to the plushy protectors, the restaurant has also installed hand sanitizers by the entrance and exit, and tables, as well as capybaras and red pandas, are thoroughly disinfected after guests leave. This delightful approach to social distancing enforces the distancing with none of the loneliness as diners can enjoy the company of a capybara.

With legions of cute characters to draw upon for support, hopefully, the rest of Japan takes a leaf out of GIBBONTEI’s book and starts employing adorable creatures to ease the crowds.

GIBBONTEI Restaurant Details

GIBBONTEI restaurant is located in the Izu Saboten Animal Park. You can check out the menu here.

〒413-0231 静岡県伊東市富戸1317-13


Images of popular restaurant food:

Capy Burger ¥1200 (inc. tax)

Bakubaku Hamburger ¥1200 (inc.tax)

By - Toby M.