While living through a pandemic is long and stressful, what comes after it might just be our biggest challenge yet. From an economic and business standpoint, 2020 will, unfortunately, see the disappearance of an unprecedented number of businesses as consumption habits change due to people working from home and limiting their outings.
Several weeks ago, we shared a few tips on how you can support local businesses that are currently suffering financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To further understand the reality of the situation, Tokyo Weekender reached out to our readers to ask if they knew of any local businesses that are currently in need of extra support. Our goal with this initiative is to help Japan’s international community and entrepreneurs by providing them with additional exposure in these challenging times.
While we received many inquiries, as a start, we narrowed down the industries to restaurants, suppliers and schools. Below is a list of eight Tokyo-based businesses that offer services and experiences you can support during the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, if you know of any other companies that aren’t listed here but need support, please fill out this online form or leave us a comment below.
1. Q Stay and lounge Ueno [Permanently Closed]
Q Stay and lounge is a new type of accommodation with a focus on encouraging communication and cultural exchange. Located only a few minutes from Ueno Station, it’s perfect for first-time visitors who are looking to hit the city’s top cultural spots. Due to a significant drop in inbound tourism in the past several months, the hostel and its café are currently struggling to attract guests.
How you can help: Book a room for anytime in 2020 or order from Q Cafe.
Q Stay and lounge is currently offering a special campaign through which readers can book a night with a discount of up to 54% off, breakfast included. Guests can choose between dormitory or private rooms. The “See You Soon” campaign offers discounted accommodation vouchers, which, according to marketing director Luke Bruehlman, can be “purchased now and used to book a stay anytime in 2020.” If you’re planning a trip to Japan later in the year, this campaign can help you and Q Stay and lounge equally. In addition to their accommodation vouchers, readers located in Ueno can place an order via Uber Eats to get any item on the Q Cafe menu delivered to their homes or offices.
We’ve covered this Led Zepplin & wine restaurant on the website before, and we’re still recommending Sarah Crago’s delicious pasta, especially during these hard times. The restaurant business is one of the industries being hit the hardest by the pandemic — especially small, independent venues, such as this one in Aoyama.
“The global health pandemic we now find ourselves in has completely changed the face of hospitality.”
How you can help: Order delivery or have your “take-OUT” experience.
Owner Crago has introduced the “take-OUT” campaign, which allows customers to order fresh pasta, sauce and more for pick up or delivery.
“The global health pandemic we now find ourselves in has completely changed the face of hospitality. I can no longer welcome my customers to my restaurant. But instead, it has opened up the opportunity for people to enjoy the Out experience at home.” Every week a new shape and sauce is announced on the restaurant’s Instagram, so make sure you follow OUT here.
While OUT is just one example of a favorite local restaurant, we would also like to encourage our readers to reach out to local restaurants in their areas to see if they are currently offering any takeaway or delivery services.
3. Harnet Corporation
While Harnet Corporation might be a new name to you, you’ve certainly tasted the fruit of their business. The company specializes in the import of quality meat from Australia to Japan. Harnet supplies Australian pie show Punk Doily and many other restaurants in the city.
How you can help: Order their meat online.
For a limited time, the company is not only selling to restaurateurs but private consumers, too. Through their new online store, stock up on quality meat that can be incorporated into any meal, from breakfast to dinner. Each order comes in a vacuum-sealed pack and can be delivered nationwide. For more information on how to place an order, check out the Harnet Corporation Facebook page.
4. Sakamichi Brewing
Sakamichi Brewing is a small brewery located near Tachikawa Station. They not only make great beer, but they do so while also being kind to the environment. They also source local ingredients whenever possible. When the coronavirus crisis hit Tokyo, Sakamichi Brewing made the difficult decision to temporarily close its taproom to ensure the safety of its customers and staff.
How you can help: Place an order to pick up.
The brewery has just gotten the green light to offer take-out options for its products and is working on receiving a delivery license — perfect if you’re a fan of local beer or are looking for a refreshing change from convenience store options. For more information on how to place an order, please check out the restaurant website.
Ready for the busy weekend ahead!
This Friday / Sat / Sun I’ll be doing online obi lectures in English!
Very information-heavy, recommend to anyone with deep interest in kimono and obi!
— Stasia Matsumoto // inKIMONO (@inkimono1) April 30, 2020
We featured Stasia Matsumoto from InKimono in our TattooGirls photo story last year. In 2019, she opened her kimono shop in Asakusa, while also providing dream photoshoots for locals and tourists. With the significant decrease in inbound tourism and firmer stay-at-home policies in place, Stasia had to put her photography sessions to a halt for the season.
How you can help: Attend a special online lecture on kimono.
For the past couple of weeks, Matsumoto has been giving lectures on kimono history and theory online. While not a new service, she has found that especially at this time, it was something that many people enjoy. For fans of kimono or those who would like to learn more about the intricate process of dressing in the traditional Japanese garment, follow Stasia on Instagram and Twitter to be notified about her next lecture.
6. Tokyo Piano School
Tokyo Piano School is one of the few musical institutions in the city that offer quality piano classes in both English and Japanese for both children and adults. Lessons also cover music theory and musicianship.
“Tokyo Piano School opened in January of 2019,” founder Mayuko Yamashita says, “and due to the high move-in costs for commercial space in Tokyo, the business was slowly reaching a point of breaking even before the first news broke about the coronavirus. At the time, we saw several students drop out out of fear of commuting to the studio. We also observed the even more alarming significant drop in new student inquiries.”
How you can help: Take an online piano lesson.
Tokyo Piano School has turned to digital lessons using Zoom, Skype and Facetime. While this allowed them to keep up the progress with their existing students, the school remains dangerously close to going into debt and hopes to still be able to acquire new students during the outbreak.
“For parents stuck at home with kids looking for extra-curricular activities, we’d like to offer you an online piano lesson. You just need a keyboard, webcam and/or smartphone,” Yamashita says.
For a limited time, TW readers can sign up for a free online trial when they mention “Tokyo Weekender” upon registration. For more information on the school and how to take a class, see here.
7. Artbar Tokyo
Artbar Tokyo is a popular art and wine post for those who love to paint, have a glass of red wine at the end of the day and chat with fellow art lovers. With the rise of coronavirus cases in the city, however, recently Artbar had to cancel their in-person classes.
How you can help: Sign up for an online art class.
Artbar is instead offering online classes through video-chat services. At a fraction of the usual price, you can join in on the fun and paint from the comfort of your own home.
“We wanted to continue to provide a fun, creative outlet for people to do at home,” instructor Naomi told TW. “It’s been awesome to have people joining our online painting sessions from around the world, which was not possible before.” All you need are basic painting supplies, which Artbar will send to your home if you live in Japan, and a glass of wine of your choice. For more information, see here.
8. Arigato Japan
A few spots are still available for our #online Happy hour sessions this Wed. (4.30 pm JST) and Friday (7pm JST). We'll make 2 cocktails (w/ ingredients you can pick up at a conbini), share local insights & stories, and have fun all together with an expert https://t.co/AC835zQoPw pic.twitter.com/9z0mhu0gTx
— Arigato Japan (@Japanfoodtour) April 27, 2020
This food-loving company offers gastronomy tours in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima in English and in Japanese. It’s a great way to get to know local delicacies as well as take a bite of must-haves during your time in Japan, whether you’re here for two weeks or for the long run. Arigato Japan is currently unable to offer food tours as most restaurants now have tight business hours or are simply shut down.
How you can help: Participate in one of their online happy hours.
Arigato Japan’s guides are planning online happy hours, which include an ask-me-anything session (AMA) with the hosts as well as two easy recipes you can make at home (or with ingredients you can pick up from the conbini). For more information on how you can participate in their next event, check out Arigato Japan’s website.
Feature image illustration by Rose Vittayaset