This pop-up restaurant in Tokyo only hires staff with dementia

The restaurant hired 17 waiters and waitresses that all suffer from dementia. Source: Spoon & Tamago

A POP-UP restaurant in central Tokyo hires 17 waiters and waitresses who suffer from dementia to raise awareness about the condition ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on Sept 21, Reuters reported.

“The Restaurant of Order Mistakes” – a play on the title of a classic Japanese children’s book, “The Restaurant of Many Orders” – is the brainchild of NHK television director Shiro Oguni.

The project’s main objective is to allow the public to interact with those who have the condition in a safe environment in which the servers need not fear the consequences of any error they might make.

“It was truly great everyone believed hey would be able to do this job, as long as they had proper support in place,” Ogino said. He also hopes to run the event annually in the spirit of fostering empathy and understanding towards dementia patients.

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Customer Makoto Ichikawa told Reuters he enjoyed talking to a waitress who briefly forgot her role and sat down opposite him to have a chat.

The three-day event ended on Sept 8 and managed to raise nearly JPY5 million (US$44,820), more than the targeted JPY8 million (US$71,712) through an online fundraiser.

Both public and private initiatives have sought to erase the stigma of the disorder that affects nearly five million Japanese citizens. One in five Japanese aged 65 or over, or some seven million people, are predicted to have some degree of dementia by 2025.

Additional reporting by Reuters