Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Jerardo Gomez
If you are traveling to Japan and want to know how and when to book reservations for restaurants and activities then you are in the right place. Look no further, This is the only and ultimate guide to making reservations in Japan that you will need! We have got all the details to help you make the most out of your stay in Japan. So bookmark this article to refer back to when you are ready to book your trip.
Welcome to Japan, where dining is an art form and making a restaurant reservation can seem like a daunting task. But fear not, we have created a comprehensive guide on how to make restaurant reservation in Japan so that you can enjoy the best culinary experiences during your travels.
This article will provide detailed steps on how to make restaurant reservations in Japan, from researching restaurants that are English-friendly to confirming the details of your reservation.
Before we dive into the specifics of making a reservation, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the options for booking things on your next trip to visit Japan.
Do I need to make reservations at every restaurant in Japan?
You do not need reservations at every single restaurant or activity in your Japan trip but it is highly recommended to book restaurants and experiences that are in high demand such as high-end restaurants.
Not every restaurant will have the option to book reservations such as mom-and-pop shops, and fast-casual places like Starbucks which can have very long lines! Japanese restaurants are different than everywhere else in the world.
Additional places where you cant book reservations:
Fast-Casual spots like Ichiran Ramen
Budget / Chain restaurants
Conveyor-belt sushi restaurant
But if you are able to make a reservation and can stick to the reservation time then I recommend making a reservation at high-end restaurants.
When to book restaurants in Japan?
In general, most restaurants will only allow booking reservations 1-2 months ahead of time in advance. The best time to book restaurants in Japan is as soon as you can and have your itinerary planned out.
So if you want to go to a special dinner, a trendy restaurant, or a Michelin-Starred restaurant then you need to book as soon with as much notice as possible which is usually 2 months ahead. In my experience, some places get fully booked as soon as there are no more reservations available. In this case, restaurant sites will have a notice of when the next round of reservations is open to book.
How to Make Restaurant Reservations in Japan?
The best way to make a reservation in Japan is either by telephone or an online reservation. Online reservations are the preferred method for foreign travelers and there will be several apps to choose from or even the direct restaurant site.
As a traveler, with no Japanese, I had a problem of making reservations as calling is not an option since I do not speak Japanese, and most shops do not have an English speaker on the line.
The hotel you stay at may help you book, however, I had 3 different hotel concierge services that I stayed at tell me that they cannot make the reservation for various reasons. One said “Unfortunately I don’t have it on hand to make a reservation at this restaurant cause they need some guarantee, we can not it.,” I found out that many restaurants require a credit card or payment made ahead which hotels are not able to do.
Another high-end hotel told me they can only make a reservation at restaurants only on the same days of stay at that specific restaurant. Since I wanted a reservation at a restaurant a day before check-in, they would not do this.
Thus I found a common problem with the reservation process at concierge service from hotels.
So I found a solution below.
Issues booking restaurants as a Tourist in Japan
Another problem is that Japanese restaurant sites and booking, are usually in Japanese which makes if difficult to book. You could try using Google translate, but I have tried that and even then the translation is not great, and there is a lot of information that is required to book which makes it difficult to include the right information or find out what they are asking about.
Another encounter I have found is that the Japanese calendar is not the same as Western calendars, which made me lose confidence as to which day the booking will be. For example, instead of saying Tuesday, it will say Fire. Not very helpful is it?
The solution to Making Restaurant Reservations using English Booking Services!
Easiest and Best Way to Book a Reservation in Japan
The ultimate solution is called Pocket Concierge!
Pocket Concierge is the best site to book restaurants because there is an English option that is well-developed and user-friend which almost every other booking site for Japan is horrendous at. Pocket Concierge is easy and fast for tourists to book.
They have many other restaurants also on their list and all the ones I wanted to go to were on there. This is a lifesaver!
Other options to make reservations in Japan are
Step 1: Plan out the Itinerary
This is the first step because you will need to know which areas you will be close by so that you don’t miss your reservation. You can plan out your restaurant around your itinerary.
Once you have your dates in place and approximate dinner times, its the next step.
Step 2: Pick a Restaurant
Go on your restaurant booking site and filter the dates first to ensure restaurants have availability.
Then apply filters as needed such as sushi restaurants, lunch reservations, high-end restaurants, etc.
For restaurants allowing free reservations, the button will say “Free Reservation,” restaurants accepting paid reservations will have a button saying “Reserve Now,” and the button for high-end restaurants will read “Contact for Availability.”
Select your restaurant to fill out the necessary information.
Most will require a guest number, the name for a reservation, allergies, time, date, and meal option. Some also require the hotel name of your stay.
Step 3: Reserve
Once you fill out all your information you can click reserve. At this time it will be submitted and it’s done.
For Paid Reservation: These restaurants will require payment upfront, read the terms of services first. This is why I recommend planning out an itinerary first.
Things to Note
Most restaurant booking sites, including this one, may require you to pay upfront to ensure you will attend, and will only refund 50% if you do not attend your reservation! This will be up to the restaurant if they want to do this.
Some restaurants had the option to pay at the restaurant, and others required upfront payments and course options picked ahead.
Arrive on time, and do not be late more than 10-15 minutes as that is the usual policy for no-shows.
When you arrive at the restaurant on your specified date/time, present your confirmation code to staff members who will help you with seating arrangements and ordering food.
Some upscale restaurants may require formal attire, while others allow casual dress.
Tipping is not customary in Japan, and it’s essential to be respectful of the customs and traditions when dining out.
In conclusion, making a restaurant reservation in Japan requires some research and planning, but the results are worth it. The culinary experiences in Japan are unique, and the attention to detail and quality make for unforgettable dining experiences. So, make your reservations early, pack your chopsticks, and enjoy the delicious food that Japan has to offer!
The restaurant reservation service in Japan is just different than in Western countries and as foreign visitors, we just have to get used to it. This article should have covered what you need to know.
Michelin Starred Restaurants are great but are not the “best” and you can find several fine dining restaurants that are better than Michelin Star restaurants. Often are cheaper due to not having the recognition.
A reservation request is necessary in my eyes when going to exclusive restaurants when visiting Japan. If you do not end up getting a reservation at the most exclusive restaurants, that’s okay, you are not missing out as you can find similar places to eat at nearby restaurants.
You can find sushi restaurants, casual restaurants, and other types of food just about everywhere.
Many Japanese restaurants have private rooms which is great if you are going to take pictures. Japanese culture discourages pictures with others around during a private setting.
When visiting Japan, don’t just go to popular restaurants, try casual eateries.
When it comes to English Menu, many restaurants have it, but if not you can use google translate. Some restaurant workers may speak English, however, you will encounter staff who speak Japanese, even if they speak English. Staff fluent in English can be found in hotels, and travel information desks.
The best way to make a restaurant and reservation in Japan is by using Pocket Concierge to find and book the best restaurants in Japan.
Browse through different restaurant reservation apps that are noted in the article above. Filter dates, and the type of restaurant you want to eat.
When making a restaurant reservation in Japan, it is generally recommended to make a reservation at least one to two weeks in advance. This is especially true for popular and high-end restaurants as they tend to book up quickly. I recommend booking 2 months ahead.
It is important to note that some restaurants require customers to pay upfront as part of their reservation policy. When booking online, it is essential to read the terms of service carefully before making your payment. Additionally, some restaurants may require special dietary details or requests when making a reservation and will only accept them if booked ahead of time.
When possible, it’s best to make reservations directly with the restaurant you plan on visiting. This can help ensure that your requirements are met exactly as requested and can help you avoid any miscommunications that could result from third-party services.
Moreover, if you happen to be in Japan during peak times (such as Golden Week), then it’s suggested that you make your reservations even further in advance as all the best establishments will book up quickly.
If you need to make changes to your restaurant reservation in Japan, the best thing to do is contact the restaurant directly as soon as possible or cancel from the origin of your reservation. Depending on the restaurant, they may be able to accommodate changes to the reservation, such as changing the number of guests or altering an order.
However, it is important to note that many restaurants have strict policies regarding cancellations and modifications and may not be able to accommodate changes. Therefore, you should always reach out ahead of time so that any needed changes can be made.
Furthermore, it is important to note that some restaurants require payment upfront in order for a reservation to be secured and will only refund 50% (or less) if you are unable to attend if the notice is within 24 hours of reservation.