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Restaurants in Japan

General Japanese restaurant

There are many restaurants in Japan.
Of course, you can find easily Western, Chinese or other country's restaurants.

If you want to find Japanese traditional restautants, first search the restaurant that a "noren" is hung in front of the entrance.

Noren is a short split curtain, and most Japanese restaurants are hung. Hanging noren is the sign of opening the restaurant.
Some Japanese restaurants or Japanese-style pubs use "nawa-noren" (rope curtain).

Generally a Japanese restaurant serves specific dishes.

Sushi restaurants serve sushi, sashimi and some donburi with sashimi.
Soba/udon restaurants serve soba/udon and some donburi dishes.
Ramen restaurants serve ramen. And most ramen restaurants serve some Chinese dishes.
Tempura restaurants serve tempura and set menu with tempura.
Unagi (eel) dish restaurants serve unadon and other menu with unagi.

Sukiyaki or shabushabu restaurants are small in number, and most ones are expensive.

There are some classy Japanese restaurants.
The restaurants have the menu of many traditional Japanese dishes.
You can enjoy the Japanese full-course dinner called "kaiseki" at such restaurants.
And the restaurants for sukiyaki and shabushabu are in the category.
In many cases, the guests enjoy the meal in a private room.
Of course, the dishes are expensive.

Additionally, don't remember that there are many small restaurants serving various cheap and homely dishes for the people in the community.

Most traditional Japanese restaurants have the tables on tatami floor.
Many restaurants have both chairs and tatami, and some restaurants have only tatami.
When you sit on tatami, you must get your shoes off and sit straight with your legs folded under you. If you have no experience to sit so, you may feel painful.
Please sit on your choice.

Noren Udon restaurant with the display of menu
A ramen restaurant A soba restaurant
A sushi restaurant
Entrance of a classy Japanese restaurant in Kyoto

Family restaurant

"Family restaurant" is a Japanese-English word. We often shorten the word, and say "famires".
Most family restaurants are in the city or suburbs, and they have spacious and bright premises.
In the literature, it is the restaurant for family, and it has the menu of dishes without reference to age or sex.
The prices are very reasonable.
Most restaurants are chain stores. Some serve mainly western dishes and some serve mainly Japanese dishes.

There are many chains in Japan. (The following links are the websites in Japanese.)

Mainly western dishes and some Japanese dishes : "Gusto", "Jonathan's", "Denny's", "Coco's", "Royal Host", "Joyfull", "BigBoy"
Mainly Japanese dishes : "Yumean", "Aiya", "Hanaya-Yohei", "Sato"
Mainly Chinese dishes : "Bamiyan"
Mainly Italian dishes : "Saizeriya", "Jolly-Pasta"
Mainly hamburger stake dishes : "Bikkuri Donkey"

Family Restaurant Inside of Family Restaurant

Fast food restaurant

In Japan there are many fast food restaurants from U.S. like "Kentucky Fried Chicken", "McDonald's", "Burger King", "Mister Donut", "SUBWAY" and so on.
They are mainly in urban areas.

In addition, there are some fast food restaurants of hamburger born in Japan.
Those are "MOS Burger", "Lotteria", "Becker's", "Dom Dom", "First Kitchen" and so on.
If you are a westerner, I think these shops are easily accessible to you.

Of course, there are some fast food restaurants of Japanese dishes.
Gyudon restautants : "Yoshinoya", "Matsuya", "Sukiya"
Udon or donburi dishes : "Nakau", "Hanamaruudon", "Marugame-Seimen" (English)
Curried rice : "CoCo-Ichiban'ya"

Kentucky Fried Chicken
MOS Burger
Yoshinoya Nakau CoCo-Ichibanya


Kaiten-zushi Kaiten-zushi is the sushi restaurant where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table and counter seat.
In a sense, this is also a fast food restaurant.
When you get a seat, you can eat your favorite sushi soon.
See a page of sushi.

Most of kaiten-zushi restaurants are chain stores.
Many chains of kaiten-zushi are in Japan. (The following links are the websites in Japanese.)

"Kappa-zushi", "Genki Sushi", "Sushiro", "Muten Kura-zushi", "Heiroku-zushi",  "Atom boy", "Choshimaru",  "Hakodate-ichiba"

Standing-up-eating soba/udon

Standing-up-eating on a platform of railroad At main railway stations, there are many standing-up-eating soba/udon shops.
For people who have little eating, sobe or udon are quickly served. Most diners also eat it fast.
Of course, as most shops have no seat, you must eat standing up.

Basically kake-soba/udon (only noodle and hot soup) is served, and the diner can order favorite toppings.
Popular toppings are kakiage (tempura of chopped vegitables), raw egg, abura-age, wild plants, and so on.

When ordering, usually we buy a ticket with vending machine, and only hand the ticket to a cook.
The prices are very cheaper than normal soba/udon restaurants, and are about 200-400 yen.

Various restaurants and pubs

Of course, you can enjoy the world's cuisines.
Many of them are Chinese, French, and Italian cuisines, and we can find Korean, Indian, Thai restaurants.

And there are many pubs and bars in Japan.
If you eat various Japanese dish cheaply, it is good idea to go to Japanese style pub ("Izakaya" in Japanese).
Of course, it is the place to drink. But the menu has the lineup of known Japanese cuisines such as sashimi, broiled fish, tofu, and so on.

French restaurant
Table in izakaya

For vegitarian

In Japan, most people think vegitarian is some weird person.
So only few reataurants and hotels serve meal for vegitarian.

If you are a vegitarian, probably you are hard to find the reataurant for vegitarians in Japan.
I also don't know the restaurant in my city.

If you are a vegitarian, please check the information in this website.

HappyCow's Vegetarian Guide
A searchable dining guide to vegetarian restaurants, natural health food stores, information on vegetarian nutrition, raw food, veganism, vegan recipes, healthy cooking, travel, and more.

Websites about Japanese restaurants

  • Bento.com : The website covering Japanese cuisine and the dining scene in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.
  • Japanese Restaurant Info.com : Find your favorite Japanese restaurant in US.

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