This restaurant experience is a little mix of traditional Japan and some very novel innovation.
In Japan, clear acrylic partitions have become a given in restaurants of all kinds, allowing diners to share meals in close quarters while still maintaining some semblance of COVID-19 safety. No matter how trendy or upscale the restaurant, however, these basic sheets of plastic tend to be surprisingly similar―few eateries have made any notable attempts to jazz up their safety barriers, instead relying on the clear plastic to just blend into the background. But for a limited time, one Tokyo restaurant is offering a special dining experience that adds plenty of style to their safety precautions: Hoshinoya Tokyo, a hotel restaurant part of Japan’s high-end Hoshino Resorts. Parties can now reserve seats for the hotel’s “Chochin Kaishoku” (提灯会食), or “Lantern Dining,” to join in on meals while still staying isolated in their own little lantern enclave.
After Japan recently lifted the state of emergency nationwide, regional governments have been moving slowly but surely towards loosening restrictions on eateries (business hour limits, alcohol bans, etc) as well, allowing establishments to return to business as usual. But for customers, the necessary safety precautions for dining out are largely unchanged, and experts still recommend diners wear masks whenever possible and avoid large dinner parties. And while these strategies may be vital to maintaining safety, it’s clear that diners in Tokyo and beyond miss the chance to gather with friends, family, or colleagues, and be able to see each other’s faces without masks getting in the way.
In an attempt to solve this problem, even for just one short meal, Hoshinoya Tokyo approached lantern-making specialists Kojima Shouten with a plan. Kojima Shouten has been making traditional Japanese paper lanterns in Kyoto since the Edo era (1603-1868), and now, they’ve made a set of lanterns specifically designed for people to slip inside and enjoy their food in their own little private space, while still comfortably sharing the meal and the conversation with their companions.
Each lantern has a diameter of 75 cm and is more than a meter tall, with a midsection made of extremely thin (0.15 mm) vinyl that blocks droplets but not sound, for easy conversation. The inside of each lantern is also fitted with its own lightbulb, illuminating not only the food being eaten, but also the faces of each guest!
Hoshinoya Tokyo usually only serves guests who are staying at the hotel, but for this special event, they’re opening up restaurant reservations and allowing interested diners to come enjoy a meal under the lanterns before heading home at the end of the evening. It’s a rare experience from start to finish, between the venue and the huge “partition lanterns”! If you’re interested in making a reservation, don’t forget that Hoshino Resorts are pretty fancy. The Lantern Dining room is only available to one group of guests each night, reservations must be made at least five days in advance, and the restaurant requires a 30,000 yen table fee per group for the room, on top of the price of 21,780 yen per person for the meal. Eating under the lantern light isn’t cheap, but it sure is luxurious!
Name: Hoshinoya Tokyo (星のや東京)
06 December 2021
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