Tokyo’s hotel designs new pandemic-era dining experience with transparent lanterns for guests to enjoy a face mask-free dinner!

The Tokyo Lantern Dinner at the Hoshinoya ryokan in Otemachi, Tokyo provides transparent lanterns made from vinyl for dining guests to experience group dinners without wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the world, we’ve seen how the industry of design has impacted our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From transparent dining pods to no-contact food trucks, designers have made eating out possible over these past three years. Even in 2021, COVID-19’s effect on dining out has stuck around and different versions of what we call the ‘new normal’ are still making rounds. At Hoshinoya, in Otemachi, Tokyo, a new dining experience called the ‘Tokyo Lantern Dinner,’ brings lanterns for each guest to use as transparent partitions against COVID-19 during group dinners.

Designed for dining guests to feel free and unmask during dinner, the lantern partitions were conceived by Hoshinoya for their familiarity with Japanese culture and customs. From the top of each lantern, soft, warm light pours over your head and meal, illuminating your facial expressions during conversation as well as the food on your plate. Produced by the long-established lantern store Kojima Shoten in Kyoto, each lantern measures 75-cm in diameter and 102-cm in height, leaving more than enough room to enjoy your meal without fear of splashing the transparent vinyl covering, which reaches 0.15 mm in thickness.

The designers behind Hoshinoya’s Tokyo Lantern Dinner created the experience to provide a space where loved ones who were kept apart due to the pandemic can meet and enjoy a quality meal together like we could before 2019. Limiting the dining area to 40-sqm, fresh, ventilated air is poured into the room 5.5 times per hour, around 11 times more than the average public setting in Tokyo.

Interested guests of Hoshinoya can make reservations for the Tokyo Lantern Dinner and dine with loved ones staying outside of the ryokan for ¥30,000 ($264.10) per group and ¥21,780 ($191.70) per person, The price includes a multi-course meal from a set menu called “Nippon Cuisine ~Fermentation~.” As described by Hoshinoya the menu contains, “A wide variety of fermented foods such as seasonings, soy sauce, and miso, which have been popular in Japan since ancient times, [as well as] preserved foods such as pickles and salted fish.”

Designer: Hoshinoya