Sign With Me, a social cafe in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo Japan takes food orders in sign language. The signing cafe just opened last year December, 2011. All six employees communicate with customers in sign language. And if there’s a customer who does not know sign language orders are taken in writing or from pointing on the menu board.
Cafe owner, Masahiro Yanagi, who is a Deaf Japanese man, opened the cafe with several goals. Most important goal Masahiro says is to make delicious cakes and soups for everyone. He also decided that his cafe will hold a theme that includes sign language.
Many cafes in Japan and around the world too are theme cafe shops. And because cafe shops are places where people stop for a light meal or a drink. And often time a cafe is a place where people meet for a couple of hours for meeting or social with business colleagues or friends. Masahiro clearly takes advantage of those social cafe trends.
Though in an article with Daily Yomuri, a Japanese newspaper, Masahiro said he aims to promote sign language and create a work and social place for the sign language community to enjoy and take pride in a cafe that serves in sign language.
Kiyoko, a Deaf employee at Sign With Me, explained that most customers were hearing and could not communicate in sign language. It didn’t seem to matter as the cafe was accessible to them. The menu is a print out and one can point to their order. And if there’s a question about the foods or whatsoever, there’s a white board with markers and eraser ready for communication when needed. In addition there’s a small sign language booklet at each table for customers who want to learn some sign language. They include signs such as hello, thank you, I want ……. coffee, tea, soup or cake. Indeed to say there are hearing employees but Masahiro has trained them not to speak because of the theme of the cafe. Though there is a hearing signer on duty everyday at the cafe. It’s hard to tell who is deaf or who is hearing because everybody speaks sign language.
Kiyoko has said that many hearing customers have returned. Many are regular customers who come once or twice a week for lunch. Several of them have became interested in learning it after visiting the cafe.
D-Travel recommends you to the cafe. The foods are good and the staff are friendly and fun. A couple of them knew international sign language. For more information and location of the cafe. Go to: www.signwithme.in