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Regarding the March 20 Kyodo article “Cafeterias at government offices serve up buffet of corporate culture“: When the Tokyo Metropolitan Government moved to Shinjuku from Marunouchi in 1991, a lot of public servants became “lunchtime refugees”, meaning that there were not enough places in the Shinjuku area to serve lunch to all the people who had recently moved there.

Officials in charge of general affairs and welfare suffered so much from this problem that they arranged for additional facilities that reinforced the lunch-serving capacity in the new buildings. Allowing outsiders to use these restaurants was one way of strengthening their serving capacity and financial situation.

They also helped to introduce a number of shops that provide food and beverages. With the panoramic views available, restaurants in the new buildings have become the more popular places in which to take lunch in Shinjuku.

When the metro government was located in Marunouchi, near Yurakucho, a lot of public servants went out to private companies’ cafeterias to have lunch. At that time, wearing sandals was a typical symbol of public servants, and some trading companies posted signboards at their cafeteria entrance reading “No sandals.” This was good fodder for stories about “old boy” daily life. For the time being, it is impossible to find a public servant who wears sandals in the restaurants of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Another surefire spot to take lunch in the heart of Tokyo is in the headquarters of the Tokyo Fire Department, near Takebashi Station in Otemachi. By simply registering, you may enter to enjoy an unusually big rice ball and a tasty set menu that makes for robust firefighters, plus an excellent view of the Imperial Palace.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

shuichi john watanabe

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