Restaurants in western Japan reopen, prioritizing safety | Inquirer News
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Restaurants in western Japan reopen, prioritizing safety

/ 12:42 PM May 17, 2020

Kushikatsu skewered cutlet restaurant employees prepare for its reopening by pouring sauce into small bottles on Friday. The Japan News/Asia News Network

TOKYO  — Many restaurants and other shops in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures were busy preparing to reopen their doors after restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were lifted on Saturday at midnight. Some shops and restaurants have been trying to strengthen preventive measures against the virus, while others, assuming they could not attract many customers, decided to remain closed. It will be some time before the streets become busy again.

Kushikatsu Daruma, which has 13 kushikatsu skewered cutlet locations in Osaka Prefecture, reopened four restaurants in Osaka City on Saturday. Before reopening, employees at each location were busy preparing food all morning.

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Restaurants in the three prefectures were required to shorten their business hours. Since Saturday, however, their closing time has been extended from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and alcoholic beverages can now be served until 9 p.m.

Kushikatsu skewered cutlet is famous for the way it is eaten: Customers dip their kushikatsu into a shared container of sauce, however, double-dipping is strictly prohibited.

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In the current climate, the restaurant has decided to remove the container and allow customers to pour the sauce from a small bottle instead. If it’s requested, they will provide a container, but they will be changed out for each customer.

“[I don’t expect] customers will come back anytime soon, but when they do stop by, I want them to enjoy Osaka specialties without any anxiety,” said the manager of the Dobutsuen-mae location in Naniwa Ward, Osaka.

Pontocho, an entertainment district in the center of Kyoto City, saw a sharp increase of visitors. There are many Japanese restaurants in Pontocho that serve their traditional home cooking on large, sharing-size plates, however, the prefectural government has asked restaurants to refrain from serving dishes on those types of plates.

“Sharing food from a single plate is an attractive idea, but preventing the virus from spreading is a top priority,” a manager of a restaurant said. The restaurant will adjust to serve each customer individually.

Major department stores, which only had their food department open, have begun moving toward a full reopening. Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. will reopen its Daimaru stores in Shinsaibashi, Umeda, Kyoto and Kobe only on weekdays starting on Tuesday.

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