Japan Data

Number of Overseas Japanese Restaurants Tops 100,000

Food and Drink Economy Culture

As more foreign tourists visit Japan, their interest in local cuisine is fueling a rise in Japanese restaurants around the world

There were 117,568 Japanese restaurants overseas as of October 2017, according to data collected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. This is a 30% increase compared to the results of the previous study conducted in 2015, and around five times larger than the number reported in the first study carried out in 2006.

Japanese cuisine has long had a healthy image, and ingredients from Japan have a good reputation for safety. But now that more foreign tourists are visiting, there seems to be a rising interest in the cuisine, which is driving up the number of Japanese restaurants in other countries. Compared to 2015, the number of restaurants in Asian countries rose by 53%, to a total of around 69,300, which is approximately 60% of all Japanese restaurants worldwide. The increasing number of tourists visiting Japan from China and other countries seems to have boosted the popularity of sushi, ramen, and other Japanese cuisine in their own countries. In North America, however, the increase in the number of Japanese restaurants has leveled off.

MAFF responded to the recent boom by introducing a system in 2016 to recognize certain restaurants and retailers as certified “Japanese food and ingredient supporter stores overseas” if they use food and ingredients produced in Japan. For a restaurant to receive this certification it must meet certain requirements, such as consistently providing items that make use of food and ingredients produced in Japan, including menu explanations about these products, and promoting the appeal and characteristics of Japanese food and ingredients.

In fiscal 2016, there were 39 certified restaurants and 94 retailers, for a total of 133, and by 2017 this rose to 1,979 restaurants and 892 retailers, or 2,871 in total. In other words, in the span of just one year the number increased 20-fold. They are particularly common in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, where there are a total of around 700 certified restaurants and retailers. There are also many certified businesses in China, Thailand, and the United States.

Considering that there are now around 118,000 Japanese restaurants worldwide, it seems likely that the number of certified restaurants will increase further in the future. It is hoped that they will help to expand exports of Japanese agricultural and livestock products by showcasing these products to overseas customers.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Customers at a ramen restaurant in New York enjoying Japanese sake © Jiji.)

Washoku Japanese food restaurant