List of examples

Superfood green papaya has been commercialized! With the opening of an e-commerce site, sales of the fruit have gone from a café of 10 seats to nationwide.

Som Tum Caffe(Minato-ku,Tokyo) is the first eatery in Japan to specialize in the Thai-style green papaya salad known as som tum. Green papaya is believed to be the only food rich in catabolic enzymes. This remarkable fruit is gaining attention as a detoxifier and immunity booster. Health-conscious customers returned again and again to Som Tum Caffe, which, since opening in September 2019 in the Tokyo office district of Tamachi, had been doing well.

Restaurant introduces first-ever contactless system.
Ordering from the table via smartphone puts diners at ease.

Café restaurant Park Community Kibaco(Koto-ku,Tokyo) opened in Kiba Park on August 7, 2020. “Kibaco” stands for “Kiba community” and the aim of the restaurant is to create a community space where customers can feel at ease even during the current coronavirus pandemic. As part of this effort, the restaurant has installed a state-of-the-art ordering system.

The taste of Finland, at the café or at home – creating new demand through Instagram

The Robert's Coffee Chitose Karasuyama Café(Setagaya-ku,Tokyo) opened in April 2019. It is the first Tokyo café for Robert’s Coffee, the largest coffee chain in Finland, a leading coffee-loving nation. Located in the popular residential area of Chitose Karasuyama, the café offers a relaxing space that has steadily attracted more and more customers. After about a year of smooth sailing, unprecedented chaos struck in the form of coronavirus. With life having changed for so many people, what was Robert's Coffee's new strategy to be?

Noodle shop succeeds in avoiding “Three Cs” – closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings – and attracting new fans with reception desk and wait-your-turn system.

Chuka Soba Takano(Shinagawa-ku,Tokyo) is popular for its soup, which is characterized by the deliciousness of its seafood and meat dashi stock, and its first-class noodles, which are famed for their aroma, springiness, and texture. This ramen shop has won so many fans that there is always a line of customers outside waiting to eat. However, with the shop having adopted a wait-your-turn system, the lines have disappeared. “People lining up is proof of our popularity, but customer safety is our top priority,” says the owner, Ms. Takano, when asked about the new waiting system and its impact.

Contactless, non-face-to-face service made possible through introduction of check-in, checkout facial recognition system.

Mitsui Fudosan Group is a developer of numerous mid- to high-end brands for a large target audience in the hotel and resort industry. At a time when lifestyles and values are changing and more importance is being placed on individuality, Mitsui Fudosan has launched “Sequence,” a new brand(Shibuya-ku,Tokyo,and so on.) that aims to provide hotel guests with unprecedented value. This means a new style of hotel that offers contactless, non-face-to-face service while enhancing customer satisfaction.

A long-established and popular inn introduces AI technology, offering information on overcrowding, and providing peace of mind to its guests.

Furuya Ryokan(Atami-shi,Shizuoka) has introduced artificial intelligence (AI) as a countermeasure against coronavirus. The long-established inn, which has a history of over 200 years, uses artificial intelligence to analyze the situation in regard to the number of people using its large communal baths or congregating around its front desk and transmits this information in real-time, providing peace of mind to its guests.

Bringing Japanese technological prowess and exquisite detail to the world. Original coronavirus countermeasure “Fight Back COVID-19” announced.

Small Worlds Tokyo(Koto-ku,Tokyo), the world's largest indoor miniature theme park, opened in Tokyo’s Ariake district in June 2020. The facility, which was established as a “prototype to showcase Japanese technology,” is now presenting itself to the world as an “indoor facility prototype” in terms of the measures it is taking to combat coronavirus.

A new rickshaw tour for sightseeing in Asakusa; the launch of an online rickshaw ride that can be enjoyed even during the coronavirus pandemic

Shohei Miura works as a shafu (rickshaw puller), showing visitors around the Tokyo district of Asakusa. Although he had already quit pulling rickshaws before the pandemic, the advent of coronavirus made him want to give something back to the community, so he returned to Asakusa with the idea of a virtual rickshaw tour (guiding online viewers around the area with a camera attached to a rickshaw). He set up an online business as part of the company Fukuroya(Taito-ku,Tokyo) and is now running tours.

The speedy introduction of an online Zoom store has boosted the number of customers even as the coronavirus epidemic continues.

The motto at Ikeuchi Organic(Minato-ku,Tokyo), a textile manufacturer founded in 1958 in Ehime Prefecture’s Imabari city, a city famous for its towels, is, “Maximum safety and minimum environmental impact.” The company mainly produces towels, items that most customers like to touch and feel before choosing. We looked at how the company has overcome this issue and achieved promising results through online sales.

Aiming to cut costs, expand sales channels in Japan and overseas, and increase the number of repeat customers through cashless payment and cross-border e-commerce.

Amid increasing digitalization, stationery store Kakimori(Taito-ku,Tokyo) opened in 2010 with the hope of conveying the wonder and enjoyment of writing by hand. The store sells original goods such as made-to-order notebooks and inks that are tailored for handwriting.

Regaining the trust and reassurance of both locals and tourists – Akigawa Valley travel companies make their coronavirus countermeasures visual.

The fears of Motohiro Minami, chairman of the Gokaichi Showakai storekeepers association, were realized at the start of May with the advent of the first long public holiday since the government declared a state of emergency. Visitors to Akigawa Valley could be seen enjoying barbecues along the river without wearing facemasks and then leaving trash behind when they went home. Akiruno City Hall received numerous complaints from local residents about the behavior of visitors at a time when people across the country were being urged to refrain from leaving home unless absolutely necessary. “We needed to take immediate action to put local people at ease again,” Mr. Minami recalls.

Six Gotanda eateries join forces to launch “Gotanda Eats,” a food delivery service with no delivery charge.

“Gotanda Eats” is a new service in which small restaurants deliver food using their own staff, free of delivery charges (customers pay a 100-yen-per-item service charge). At the heart of the venture is Oriental Foods, based in Tokyo’s Shinagawa City. The company, well-known for running a university food court that is said to be the best in the country, is also behind the Gotanda restaurant Tokyo Kitchen. Under the banners of “Aiming for added value with more than just food” and “Connecting with the community through food,” the company is attracting attention from across Japan’s food and beverage industry.

Coronavirus countermeasures lead to town’s new PR initiative of a raw tuna online tour

Nachikatsura Tourist Organization was founded in April 2020 as a new body responsible for promoting tourism in the town of Nachikatsura in Wakayama Prefecture. Ahead of this, a regional destination marketing organization (DMO) preparatory committee was established. Just as the tourist organization finally came into being, the coronavirus pandemic struck. With all planned sightseeing and town events canceled, they found out about a raw tuna online tour held as a demonstration that has managed to attract offline tourism.

Attracting tourists with cutting-edge technology: Highly immersive virtual reality video promotes “Kyoto by the Sea.”

NTT Learning Systems, based in Minato City, Tokyo, is a solutions provider for various learning environments, such as corporate training and school education, that is also engaged in creating video content. In collaboration with the city of Miyazu in Kyoto Prefecture, the company recently produced a virtual reality video for tourism purposes with the concept of “Kyoto by the Sea.” The project has been attracting attention as a new initiative to boost tourism during the coronavirus pandemic and even after.

Labor-saving contactless check-in system results in a 50 percent cut in labor costs

Namba Ebisu Hotel opened in Osaka’s Nishi-Nari Ward in October 2019. Benefiting from its location only one station away from Kansai International Airport and served by limited express train, the hotel got off to a flying start targeting Asian tourists mainly from China and Europeans planning long-term stays in Japan. However, very soon after the hotel opened, coronavirus struck. We asked the hotel about initiatives, such as contactless customer service through a tablet terminal check-in system and operational reforms, that it has introduced in order to overcome the current difficulties.

Citizens’ group supports local businesses with vending machine mini markets and “Made in Ota” catchphrase.

Ota City Market Executive Committee (Ota, Gunma Prefecture) is a citizens’ group that holds “Marché” market events as a way of promoting the city. The committee brings together “Made in Ota” local products to create new appeal and brand value for the municipality. Here we look at the potential of vending machine mini markets – a new way of selling local products that have come about due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With so few store visitors, a unique opportunity arises – a new style of shopping service provides new customer satisfaction.

Souvenir shop Ebiya Shoten (Ise, Mie Prefecture) opened in 2016 as part of the long-established Ebiya Daishokudo restaurant. Since then, the store has become much loved by tourists and locals alike for its popular original items based on well-known Ise products and traditional crafts. To overcome the current coronavirus crisis, Ebiya Shoten has come up with an ingenious style of customer service.

Arousing curiosity and making infection controls fun

With more than 3 million visitors annually, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture) boasts the largest number of visitors of all Japan’s public aquariums. Until 2019, more than 30 percent of visitors were from other parts of Asia, mainly China, Taiwan, and South Korea, and nearly 60 percent were from Japanese prefectures other than Okinawa. However, in January 2020, as coronavirus suddenly began to spread, the number of visitors fell sharply. As of December 2020, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium had already experienced three temporary closures. Let’s take a look at the efforts being made by one of Japan’s leading tourist attractions to tackle the virus.

■ Image
Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park (Kaiyohaku Park) Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
* Information correct as of December 2020

Free from the “Three Cs” of closed spaces, close contact and crowds, tea field terraces and wedding plan attracts a rush of bookings.

Enjoy freshly brewed tea and spectacular views of the Shizuoka countryside from a privately reserved open-air tea terrace in the middle of a tea plantation. Developed by Suruga Bureau of Planning and Tourism (Aoi-ku, Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture), the experience-based program has attracted a lot of attention since its launch in May 2019. We talked with Suruga bureau producer Ms. Suzuki about the new initiative, which has taken off despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Note: As of January 2021, no reservations are being accepted from people living in areas subject to the current state of emergency.

Remote sightseeing bus tour of Komatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture attracts 67,000 fans during coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2020, during Japan’s nationwide state of emergency, staff at Dwango Co., Ltd. (Chuo-ku, Tokyo) launched a remote tourism initiative by driving around tourist destinations in a bus and broadcasting what they experienced live on Dwango’s own Niconico Live video-sharing service. We spoke with Noguchi Yutaro, the man behind the project, about how the initiative came about.

Publicizing the safety of Tokyo’s sightseeing buses by sharing a fact that is common knowledge in the industry — buses can be fully ventilated in 5 minutes

The chartered bus industry has been badly affected by postponements and cancellations of group tours and restrictions on movement brought about by Japan’s state of emergency. Bus companies belonging to the general incorporated Tokyo Bus Association (Shibuya, Tokyo) are no exception, with a significant reduction in income having been forced upon them. Under these circumstances, the association has taken steps to publicize the safety of its buses regarding coronavirus based on information that is common knowledge within the industry. We spoke to Mr. Ueda, the association’s chairman, about these initiatives and asked about the current situation and future of the tour bus industry

As well as combating the spread of coronavirus, a fully noncontact burger bar achieves high quality and low prices through cost-cutting.

Dining Innovation Group, the company behind brands such as Yakiniku Like, recently launched Blue Star Burger Japan (Shibuya, Tokyo), a takeout burger chain that offers a fully noncontact service, from ordering and payment to customers picking up their burgers. The first Blue Star Burger outlet opened in Naka-Meguro, Tokyo on November 10, 2020. We spoke with store representative Mr. Nishiyama.

With digitalization of order system, long-established hotel and originator of “Viking” buffet creates new style.

The all-you-can-eat buffet style known as “Viking” originated at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (Chiyoda, Tokyo). The Imperial Viking (today known as the Imperial Viking Sal), Japan's first buffet restaurant, opened in 1958. For diners, the real thrill of such a restaurant is being able to eat as much as they like of whatever they like. We asked Hiraishi Rina, the head of the restaurant department’s marketing section and initiator of new measures, about the restaurant’s efforts in response to coronavirus.

New sales channel developed as alternative to rural accommodation brings ryokan experience into the home through blowfish cuisine and virtual reality footage.

Teshima Ryokan (Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture), a traditional inn that has been in business for over 50 years, is attracting attention with a novel initiative launched during the coronavirus pandemic. Teshima Ryokan now offers a service called “VR Teshima Ryokan & Fugu Kaiseki” through which it ships its popular blowfish dishes, with customers given access to a virtual reality video of the ryokan, or traditional inn, as a reward. We spoke with the inn’s manager, Mr. Teshima, about this new initiative.

“Selling experiences, not accommodation” – Use of technology generates new value and more profit than previous year.

In 2020, a year in which the hotel industry was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, SQUEEZE Inc. posted higher profits than in the previous year. We asked Chief Operating Officer Mr. Yamaguchi about the company's initiatives, which center on the theater park Theatel Sapporo (Sapporo City, Hokkaido), a next-generation entertainment space that opened in July 2020.

Implementation of phone-order shopping service with Matsuya’s unique request order service

In November 2020, the fresh food section of Ginza Matsuya (Chuo City, Tokyo) started a “shopping agency service” that accepts orders over the phone and delivers them on the same day by taxi, in partnership with Checker Cab Co., Ltd. Ginza Matsuya is loved for its high-quality and distinctive product lineup, such as Ozaki beef, of which only 2 cows are produced every month. We interviewed Mr. Katsutoshi Imai, the organizer, about this service.

Reinventing remote work by proposing an amusement-park workation.

At Yomiuri Land, (Inagi City, Tokyo) they propose a lifestyle that values fun just as much clothing, food, and shelter. Their concept that embraces fun and playing as a core value has attracted much attention. They even went as far as promoting the idea of “amusement workation.” We spoke with Mr. Yamada, the director of the public relations department, and Mr. Okutani, the chief of the public relations department, about the background of their unprecedented efforts to introduce their pool and Ferris wheel as workspaces. (This initiative ended on December 23, 2020. The resumption date is currently undecided.)

Effective use of downtime after lunch – Exploring new possibilities for bars and restaurants by renting out tables as telework spaces

Places to eat and drink, especially those that mainly open at night, are struggling because of the restrictions on opening hours imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the midst of this, a promising new service has emerged. Launched by Wine Bar ESOLA Shinjuku, it offers business people the use of telework space within its restaurant area. We spoke with the manager, Mr. Hidaka, about the new service and the hurdles he faced in launching it.

Experience authentic yakitori at home with “Veranding Toriko.”

Tokyo Restaurants Factory Co., Ltd. (Meguro, Tokyo) is the company behind the izakaya restaurant chain Toriko. With so few people choosing to dine out due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company launched online sales of its “Yakitori Meal Kit,” a set of chicken skewers and a special grill that allows customers to enjoy authentic yakitori at home. Cumulative sales of the kit surpassed 10,000 units in January 2021. We spoke with Takahara Masahiro from the company’s e-commerce division about the new initiative.

Utilizing various business formats to launch new food delivery service with French toast prepared at izakaya restaurants.

RedefineDining Co., Ltd. (Shibuya City, Tokyo) is the company behind the izakaya eatery chain Motsukichi and high-end bakery Dondake Jikochu. The company's new service, home delivery of Dondake Jikochu bread products baked at Motsukichi outlets, is attracting a lot of attention. We spoke with Mr. Toshin, an executive at RedefineDining, about the company’s so-called “ghost restaurant” venture, a brand goods sales initiative that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic and requires no brick-and-mortar store.