Japanese restaurant’s unusual rule: You get what the person before you ordered.

“If you wander around anywhere in Japan for a little bit,” writes blogger Cabel Sasser, “you will come across something interesting.

Providing even more evidence for the veracity of that statement, as if more were needed, is the Kashiwa Mystery Cafe in southern Japan. What’s so unusual about this restaurant?

Well, I’ll let Cabel Sasser explain it: “At this cafe, you get what the person before you ordered. The next person gets what you ordered.”

What a wonderful, bizarre idea (especially if you ignore the unresolved question of what the first customer of the day receives.) When you order, say, an ice cream and coffee, you pay for them and find a seat. In a few minutes, you’re called to the counter where you pick up, you guessed it, not an ice cream and coffee. You receive whatever the person before you in line ordered.


So what’s to keep people from ordering an inexpensive item and hoping the person before them was a high-roller? Well, I guess shame. Also, the cafe has a few rules. Among them:

  • Treat the next person. What to treat them with? It’s your choice.
  • No buying twice in a row.
  • Please enjoy what you get, even if you hate it. (If you really, really hate it, quietly give it to another while saying, “It’s my treat…”)

Like the long tables at German beer halls where sitting with strangers is expected, this is an idea that Sasser says “encouraged communication between total strangers or, in this case, members of the Kashiwa community and a couple of weird guys from Oregon.” He says it “forced one to ‘let go’, just for a brief moment, of the total control we’re so used to exerting through commerce. It led you to taste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was a delight.”

Read about the experience here.