Model Locomotive Brings Smile to Customers

Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. A traditional Japanese sweets shop in Chikusei City in Ibaraki Prefecture demonstrated its creativity when implementing the social distancing measure. 

A sweet shop Kogetsuan, famous for its signature “Yakata Monaka*,” has a pretty unique payment system amid COVID-19. A customer places money on a model steam engine at the time of payment. It then delivers the money to a cashier. The toy locomotive comes back to the customer with change, if any. The train track runs about 2.5m (a little over 8ft) to give enough spacing between the cashier and the customer. Kogetsuan says their playful payment arrangement, developed by a young son of the shop owner, often surprises the customers and puts smiles on their faces.

The 6-year-old says he wanted to keep everyone safe and healthy and named the toy train  “Distance.” The toy was a gift from his grandfather three years ago. Chikusei is a city of railways where multiple railway lines run across. However, the train services have been halted since last March due to the pandemic. The shop owner and his son are hoping to deliver smiles to the customers with their confections and “Distance.”

*Monaka is a traditional Japanese confection. Sweet red beans (Anko) jam is sandwiched between two thin rice flour wafers.


Author profile

Ryosuke Komori was born and raised in Kyoto. The city's deep cultural heritage and centuries-old traditions helped shape him as a young man and still influence him today. As a college student, he and friends started an email magazine business called MaguMagu! The success of that business made Ryosuke realize he needed to tell more stories about Japan in new ways. That's how QAZJapan and Origami magazine were born. With QAZJapan, Ryosuke is taking his media skills to a whole new level! He hopes you dive into the site and enjoy.
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