The Different Types of Restaurants in Japan

Japan's culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious, offering everything from centuries-old traditional cuisine to fast, convenient dining options. The country's restaurant landscape is a testament to its deep gastronomic heritage and its embrace of modernity and innovation. This article explores the myriad kinds of restaurants you'll encounter on a culinary tour of Japan, including beloved chains such as Sukiya and Yoshinoya.

Traditional Japanese Restaurants


Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs offering a wide range of dishes, from small snacks to full meals, all designed to accompany alcoholic beverages like sake, beer, and shochu. These casual establishments are perfect for socializing and experiencing a variety of Japanese flavors.

Sushi Restaurants

From conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) to high-end sushi bars, sushi restaurants in Japan offer fresh, high-quality fish and seafood. Sushi masters (itamae) often prepare the sushi in front of guests, making dining a visual experience as well.

Tempura Restaurants

Specializing in tempura – lightly battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables – these restaurants often feature counter seating where diners can watch as chefs prepare their dishes to perfection.

Specialized Japanese Restaurants

Ramen Shops

Ramen shops, serving the iconic noodle soup dish, are ubiquitous in Japan. Each shop has its own version, with variations in broth, noodles, and toppings, reflecting regional preferences and secret family recipes.

Tonkatsu Restaurants

Dedicated to tonkatsu (breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet), these restaurants often offer a set meal with shredded cabbage, miso soup, rice, and pickles. The focus is on the quality of the pork and the crispiness of the breading.

Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki Stalls

Specializing in okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and takoyaki (octopus balls), these eateries offer a taste of Osaka's street food scene. Diners can often watch their food being cooked on griddles in front of them.

Yakiniku Restaurants

Yakiniku, meaning "grilled meat," is a beloved dining style where guests cook bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables on a grill at their table. Offering a variety of meats and a communal dining experience, yakiniku is perfect for groups and meat lovers alike.

Popular Japanese Restaurant Chains


Known for its gyudon (beef bowl), Sukiya offers a fast, affordable, and satisfying meal, with branches throughout Japan. The chain also serves curry, pork bowls, and breakfast menus, catering to a wide range of tastes.


Another gyudon chain, Yoshinoya is famous for its delicious and economical beef bowls. With a history dating back to 1899, Yoshinoya has become a staple in Japanese fast food, offering a quick and hearty meal option.

Coco Ichibanya

Specializing in Japanese-style curry, Coco Ichibanya allows diners to customize their curry dishes, choosing the level of spiciness, toppings, and rice portion size. It's a great place to experience the Japanese take on curry.

Modern and International Dining

Café Culture

Japan's café culture is thriving, with a mix of traditional tea houses and modern cafés serving coffee, sweets, and light meals. Theme cafés, such as animal cafés and maid cafés, offer unique experiences beyond dining.

International Cuisine

Reflecting Japan's cosmopolitan cities, a wide range of international cuisine is available, from Italian and French to Indian and Chinese, showcasing Japan's appreciation and adaptation of global flavors.

Japan's restaurant scene offers a dining experience for every palate, combining tradition, innovation, and global influences. Whether you're in the mood for a quick gyudon at Sukiya, a leisurely meal at an izakaya, or anything in between, Japan's culinary landscape promises an unforgettable gastronomic adventure.