Sometimes a compliment can be the first step to changing someone’s life.

Last week Homeru Bar was announced as a temporary event in downtown Osaka’s Lucua shopping center. For four days this cozy corner would be staffed by handsome men and women who will listen to your problems and respond with uplifting praise.

I went on opening day and spoke with one of the organizers/complimenters Atsushi Gunji about how it works.

▼ Homeru Bar is the first stage of the Moso Shop event which also includes an social media icon art creation and travel consultation event later this month

“Basically, for 500 yen (US$) people come in for twenty minutes at a time and tell us about their problems, and we try to bring a smile to their faces by showing them the positive side of themselves and their lives,” he explains. “Every day people go to work and never smile. Their boss gets angry but never praises them or their work.”

▼ Atsushi Gunji

Although it may not sound like a tragedy at first, when people live like this day-in-day-out, the negativity can build up to unhealthy levels. Homeru Bar provides a place where people can let all that out and instead drink in some positivity for a change, along with some tea or juice.

This is the second time a Homeru Bar has opened, with the first one having appeared in Tokyo to a good deal of success.

“Sometimes people cried during our talks,” Gunji recalls, “and sometimes we cried too. But that’s good.”

However, he is also quick to point out that these are not professional counselors, but people willing to lend a friendly ear and offer encouragement.

Gunji says that the most common problem they hear is that people don’t know what to do with their lives. They also don’t know what they are capable of because they are only told what they do wrong or poorly in their daily lives.

He and the other staff members, who come from various professional backgrounds like writers and models, try to help by showing people their own strengths and making them realize that there are opportunities out there for them.

“Of course everyone wants to be happy, but fear is a big problem. We try to show them that we had fears when following our dreams too,” he says, “Everyone has anxiety or fear when trying something new, but it’s those who have confidence and don’t let it stop them who achieve it.”

▼ Motivational phrases are hung throughout such as “Welcome to the marathon water station for the heart,” and “The world respects you.”

I asked Gunji if there were any plans for future events like this and he said probably, but stopped short at the idea of a full-time Homeru Bar. This kind of business dealing with human emotions can be tricky, as he points out, “We can’t compliment someone on their looks or style because that can easily be taken the wrong way. We have to focus on someone’s character and abilities instead.”

By the end of our talk, Homeru Bar was set for its grand opening and a large group of people was already forming in front. There were all different kinds of people from young men in their 20s, to professional women in their 50s, to mothers pushing baby carriages. Within moments of opening every table was full and a waiting list was growing.

On my way out I spoke with another organizer named Naoko who told me that she was originally a customer of Homeru Bar before becoming associated with it, who said: “At the time, I didn’t know what to do with my life, but after visiting I felt a lot more confident and decided to try something new.”

That’s a pretty strong testimony to the effectiveness this place can have, but looking at its surprising popularity, I couldn’t help but feel unsettled by just how much of a demand there is for it. “It’s a big problem,” says Gunji, “but if we can make at least some people happy, then we feel happy too.”

Appearing in Osaka for only four days from 13 to 16 September, it can’t help everyone who needs it. But maybe if we all take the time to acknowledge each other’s efforts and attributes more in our daily lives, a Homeru Bar wouldn’t have to open at all.

Event information
Homeru Bar / ほめるバー
Address: Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Umeda 3-1-3, LUCUA 3rd floor entrance
大阪市北区梅田3-1-3 ルクア イーレ 3F入口
Open 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (last order 7:30 p.m.) 13-16 September
Admission: 500 yen (US$4.69), bar accepts cash only for entrance fee and drinks.
Reception closes when maximum numbers reached

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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