pay it forward menu top

Celebrate the season of giving (and receiving!) all year round.


So you’ve probably heard of customers “paying it forward” at restaurants before. One customer offers to pay for the customer after them, and then they offer to pay for the customer after them, and it continues on and on until potentially hundreds of people end up “paying” for each other.

As nice as “paying it forward” may sound though, usually all it really ends up being is the first customer paying extra, the other customers paying more or less the same, and then the last one getting the free food. Their hearts are certainly in the right place, but the end result is rarely all that different.

But one restaurant in Japan does “paying it forward” a little differently. They have a system set up wherein, if you’re feeling generous, you can buy as many meals as you want. You don’t eat them all yourself of course; instead the restaurant adds the number of meals you bought to a sign, and anyone who needs a free meal can order one of them, for free.

Here’s the sign outside the restaurant so you can see for yourself: (sign translation below)

▼ “Saw this amazing place in Obihiro, Hokkaido. It’s a system where you can pay for someone else to eat for free if you want. So when you’re out of money you can still get a meal, and when you’re feeling generous you can treat others. Absolutely wonderful.”

Pay It Forward Menu!

You can eat any of these for free (someone else has already paid)

Currently available:

· Udon – 2

· Soba – 2

· Hokkaido Brown Rice – 1


· Fried Oysters – 3

· Egg – 3

· Natto – 1

· Curry – 0

· Beer/Sake/Wine – 0

The numbers on the sign indicate how many of those meals have already been purchased by others and are available for free to anyone who wants them. Now that’s kindness in action!

Here’s what Japanese netizens had to say about the “Pay It Forward” Menu:

“What a wonderful idea.”

“I’d like to try that! Both pay and receive!”

“Nice. I just hope no one takes advantage of it.”

“This is how society should be.”

“I wish every restaurant in the world did this.”

Agreed on that last point! It’s such a simple idea that, with a little bit of work, it could probably be integrated into a lot of different restaurants, cafes, and even other stores too. Random acts of kindness could happen so often they wouldn’t even be “random” anymore, they would just be “kindness.”