January 11, 2013

Japan: A Warm Welcome at SonRise Café

Café manager Midori Tamaki is the heart of SonRise Café, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere while sharing the Good News with customers.

  • Warm Welcome

    Even when the café is busy during its "happy chaos" phases, Midori takes the time to greet people with a warm smile.

  • Many Skills

    Midori’s creative skills in the kitchen have greatly improved the recipes and presentation of menu items.

  • Beautiful Presentation

    Food presentation is important in Japan. Midori makes simple dishes such as this banana bread into something special.

  • Special Events

    Midori helps with special events, including when an American sculptor came to Japan on a short-term trip to create a special sculpture for the café.

  • Easter Quiz

    Created by Midori, the quiz asks “What is this day called Easter?” and gives three answers, “1) day to celebrate spring, 2) day to collect eggs, 3) Resurrection day.”

  • Easter Treat

    Anyone who got the correct answer for Midori’s Easter quiz received a price prize of colorful chocolate eggs.

  • Happy Birthday

    Midori loves interacting with children. This baby was celebrating his first birthday at the café along with his parents.

  • Time with Customers

    Midori’s daughter Mana and TEAMServe short-term missionary Heather Philpot enjoy creating origami with this elderly customer, who comes in almost every week.

It was opening day of the SonRise Café in Oyama, Tokyo. The café, started with the hopes of becoming a gathering place for the community, had coffee and pastries ready for customers. The first person to walk in was Midori Tamaki, a Christian woman with a bright smile and cheerful heart.

Midori, a single mother who raised two children on her own, did not have an easy early life. But one day as she was walking by Hope Bible Church in Mitaka, Tokyo, God stirred something in her heart. She felt spurred to go into the church, where she was greeted by TEAM missionary Chuck Jordan. Midori’s life changed that day, and soon after that, she began her walk with Jesus.

After a few visits to the café, Midori became their most enthusiastic volunteer and was soon hired as the first Japanese staff member. She was promoted to Café Manager in June of 2011 thanks to her considerable skills and talents. Midori helped develop a warm and welcoming setting for the café. She brought a Japanese aesthetic to the interior decorations and altered recipes that were too sweet for Japanese taste. She taught the café staff about food presentation, something that is important in Japan, adding color and design to each dish. “We were just serving the cheesecake plainly with no special presentation, but Midori created a beautiful presentation for it, and now it’s one of our signatures dishes,” said TEAM missionary Kelly Baughn.

Midori’s creativity is seen in many ways. For Easter, she developed a special quiz to place on each table. People who got the correct answer won a prize of chocolate eggs. This opened opportunities to share the Easter story with many people. After the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan, Midori and the café staff wanted to help the victims. “Midori and I were desperate,” said Baughn. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to ease the burden of these people that had this awful tragedy happen to their people and the country that they love?” Midori, a trained massage therapist, came up with the idea of offering free neck massages to anyone that donated to CRASH Japan, a Christian disaster relief organization (http://crashjapan.com/). The café collected more than $1,500 for CRASH, due in no small part to Midori. One large donation came from a regular café customer who had previously not spoken a friendly word to anyone, but as Midori started massaging his neck, he started talking and didn’t stop, returning several times!

Midori shows care and love to everyone at the café. She reads the Bible with customers and plays with kids while their moms chat. Midori and her daughter Mana, who also works at the café, enjoy creating origami with an older lady who is a regular customer. These friendly interactions offer Midori the opportunity to share her faith and personal testimony with many people. “Midori has just been such a gift in so many ways,” said Baughn.

-Written by Lisa H. Renninger
-Photos by café staff