A pop-up restaurant in Tokyo is serving up the last meals of death row inmates.
If you were to walk by Ningen Restaurant, you’d never think it to be an actual eatery. Located in the red-light district of Shinjuku, Tokyo, and open from 2-9 PM, Ningen is inside the soon-to-be-demolished Kabukicho Book Center.
And it looks it: although the outside is covered in colorful signage and there’s a nice man in a suit waiting to take you to your table, there’s a hole in the roof, abandoned office furniture on the upper floors, and the mummified remains of a corpse as soon as you enter the restaurant.
However, the macabre facade is all part of the theme. Ningen serves the last meals as requested by death row inmates. Although Japan has the death penalty, it’s rarely been used. Most of the meals on the menu are from executed Americans, and there are quite a few to choose from.
死刑囚が刑執行前の最後の食事を選べる「Last meal」— エリイChim↑Pom (@ellieille) October 16, 2018
最後の言葉「Let’s do it.」はナイキのコピーの元になる。
You could choose the last meal of Gary Mark Gilmore, convicted of armed robbery and murder in the state of Utah. Gilmore became internationally famous for demanding the implementation of his death penalty sooner rather than later, and not allowing the ACLU to request stays on his execution date.
Gilmore’s last meal consisted of steak, potatoes, milk, and coffee. He ate none but the coffee, but he did drink several small bottles of whiskey that were smuggled into his cell. Steak and Potatoes are expensive in Japan, so the meal Ningen serves is a burger with cauliflower and boiled eggs. They also serve bourbon instead of whiskey.
Another option is Judy Buenoano, convicted of murdering her husband, son, and attempting to murder her fiance. Her last meal was much more healthy than Gilmore’s: asparagus, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and hot tea. This is also an arrangement that Japan can provide profitably, so you get the full meal this time.
死刑囚が執行前に希望したものが食べれるラストミール。多額の保険金殺人でフロリダ州初の女性死刑囚となったジュディー・ベノアノさんをチョイス。彼女は「純白の椅子に座って法の裁きを受ける準備はできました。」との言葉を残しました。— エリイChim↑Pom (@ellieille) October 14, 2018
Ningen is put on by the Chim↑Pom art collective, which sort of explains a lot. Also, “ningen” is Japanese for “human”, so the restaurant is actually called the “human restaurant”. Which is a bit of a dig at their neighbors, the Robot Restaurant, just across the street.