It sounds absurd. A restaurant with no food. No tableware. No cooking. Just a few waiters, and vague menus with items like “meal with vegetables to be grown 500meters from your seat”.
The cost? Well, that’s a bit vague as well. You can pay a reasonable sounding 700 yen (~$6) for a plate … or you can stop by the garden where your food is being grown anytime in the next five weeks to earn meal credits.
And then there’s the wait time. We inform each guest as they order, that they’ll have to wait five weeks for their dinner to be ready. The food here is basically “Grown to Order”.
For those who have a sense of humor, the whole thing sounds like a joke. For those who don’t, well, it sounds like a recipe for diner outrage.
Luckily at the opening night of the experimental “REALtimeFOOD” restaurant in Osaka’s Kitakagaya neighborhood, most had a healthy sense of humor and wonderment at the concept!
The opening day of this experimental restaurant started for us as it usually does, in the garden. Suhee gathered herbs for tea — we figured we’d have to give the customers some kind of consumable!
We also had a surprise visit from a boy who lives next door to the farm plot who is now turning out to be a regular. He loves digging holes, and so we find as many excuses as we can to let him do just that.
This is of course, a big part of why we’re doing this project. It’s not really an attempt to be cunning, it’s an attempt to be honest and to connect.
Today, few of us ever has a close enough connection to anything that we have to wait for it to be made from scratch, and such a culture of instant gratification has done some deep social and ecological damage. In a way, this project is an attempt to help us repair some of that damage, both physically (revitalizing a barren plot of urban land to grow good food) and psychologically (reconnecting us to this earth in a way that re-centers our experience of what life is).
That’s why we’re inviting the community into the garden every day, and it’s why we’re hosting free and open workshops where we bring people into close relationship to nature and food, with a little help from the power of human creativity and the arts. Suhee will host “flower card” workshops and I will host “soil art” and “nature feeling” workshops.
All along the way, we’re growing food to feed the community the dinner that they ordered this past weekend.
We want to give a big thank you to all of the people who have helped get this project up and running, both here in Japan, and in Korea, Scotland, and the USA. We’re excited for your support, and for what will transpire over the next several weeks.
Well, that’s it for this week. If you’re around Osaka, come see us!
For now, here are some images from the opening night of the restaurant…
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