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Work 50 minutes for meal at Tokyo eatery

TOKYO • No money to pay for a meal? No problem - just work for 50 minutes.

That is the recipe to combat hunger for Ms Sekai Kobayashi, 33, a former engineer who will not turn away penniless customers at her restaurant Mirai Shokudo (translated as Future Eatery) in Tokyo.

"Instead, we offer meals in return for 50 minutes of labour at the restaurant. I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn't eat at restaurants because they don't have money."

There is no staff other than her at the eatery, which seats 12 at a counter.

Customers have the option of paying for food or earning a free meal by serving dishes, clearing tables and performing other tasks.

So far, more than 500 people, including university students, have opted to work for their meals to save money, among other reasons.

Those who contribute their labour can either dine for free or receive a free-meal coupon that can be deposited at the restaurant's entrance for anyone to use.

Ms Kobayashi opened the restaurant two years ago in the city's Jinbocho district, aiming for "a place where everyone is welcome and everyone fits in".
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