How to open Restaurant, cafe in Japan
1 Government’s permit is necessary
2 Necessary documents, equipment to get this permit.
3 I will assist you to get this license
Restaurant business permit
If you want to start a restaurant, cafe ( Inshokuten = 飲食店, food shop ) in Japan, you need to get restaurant business permit ( Inshokuten eigyou kyoka = 飲食店営業許可 ).
And in order to get restaurant business permit ( Inshokuten eigyou kyoka = 飲食店営業許可 ), you need to know about relevant laws.
If you want to operate a hotel in Japan and serve meals to your guests, you also need to know about this information.
If you are living in detached house, as far as you can prepare necessary equipment (sinks, water heater etc), you can get cafe, restaurant business permit with your house.
You can obtain this license even without incorporation of company in Japan. You can be sole proprietor.
You can find my articles “Which is better to operate business by company or sole proprietor” in this website.
(If you do not want to use time to read through this article, you can hire me. I will do everything to obtain this license.)
Chef license is not necessary
In Japan, if you want to get restaurant business permit ( Inshokuten eigyou kyoka = 飲食店営業許可 ), necessary qualification is as below.
So, you can operate restaurant business without chef license (調理師免許 ＝ chourishi menkyo ).
As for Food sanitation supervisor （食品衛生責任者 ）
In the case you operate restaurant business, you need to appoint food sanitation supervisor.
This is a person in charge of sanitation, hygiene, food safety of your restaurant.
You need to appoint a Food sanitation supervisor at each restaurant.
When you appoint Food sanitation supervisor, you need to file the appointment with local health care center.
In the case you become Food sanitation supervisor, you need to take a lecture conducted by authority concerned.
When you or your employee have obtained necessary license mentioned above , you can prepare necessary documents and facilities, equipments.
These licenses are one of necessary documents to make application for restaurant business permit.
Necessary days to get food business license
It it better that you submit necessary documents to obtain restaurant business permit to public health care center about 10 days prior to completion of construction of your facility.
If you submit necessary documents 1 months prior to completion of construction, officers need to wait for completion of your facility for several weeks.
If you submit necessary documents 3 days prior to completion of construction, officer can not come to your office after several days of completion of construction. Then, it will hold off commencement of your operation.
You cannot submit necessary papers by post, but you need to go to local public health care office.
Then, if office does not find any problem in your facility, equipments, documents, public health care center ( Hokenjo ) will issue certificate
Range of restaurant business permit
And now you can start your restaurant business in Japan.
Once you have obtained restaurant business permit, you can manage following business.
However, you cannot operate following business with restaurant business permit.
As for bar, you can not provide alcohol after 12 pm midnight.
In order to provide it, you need to submit Notification of commencement of business that provideｓ alcohol during midnight.
In order to sell unprocessed raw fish, meat, you need to obtain other license.
However, you can provide Sashimi ( sell picture ) at your restaurant without other license of 魚介類販売業, 食肉販売業.
When you want to operate hostess bar with female companions, you need to obtain other license below. ( Named ” Fuuzoku eigyou kyoka “)
Necessary equipment to operate restaurant business in Japan.
In order to operate restaurant business in Japan, your facility needs to be equipped with necessary equipment.
So, before you order your interior decorator, you need to consult with officer of public health care center.
Public health care center that has jurisdiction over your restaurant is enacted.
When you visit Hokenjo, you need to bring drawing of your restaurant.。
If you have already ordered interior decorator, they will provide you drawing map.
In the case a foreign national operates restaurant business in Japan, you need to obtain necessary status of residence in Japan.
Authority concerned with starting restaurant business in Japan
Depending on details of your business plan, you need to obtain several permit from several authorities.
（Public health center, Fire department, Police department, Tax office, Labor standard inspection bureau, social insurance office)
Authority : Public health center
Authority : Fire department
Authority : Police department
Authority : Tax office
Authority : 職業安定所
Authority : social insurance office = しゃかいほけんじむしょ
By the way, if you hope to invite a chef from your home country, the chef needs to obtain Skilled Visa (Gino visa).
So you can refer to this page ➡ How to work as a chef in Japan ?
If I start a food business in Japan. Example of Business Plan
Do you know 焼き鳥大吉 ? It is a franchise group of Japanese Grilled Chicken Kebab (like seven eleven etc.).
As of 2020, there are about 600 franchisee shops in Japan.
If I become a franchisee of food business, I would like to join this franchise group.
焼き鳥大吉 business model has some good points.
They do not make shop close to station. Because there are many food shop, bar close to station and many of them use red signboard. So even if I start with Red signboard, it will not stand out.
And rental fee of space close to station is very expensive. So I will make food shop in residential area where there are not other food shop, bar.
My customers will be only neighboring persons. So I can not expect many customers. That is why, I will rent small space. I will sustain my food shop only by familiar customers.
In the case of 焼き鳥大吉, operator of each shop needs to prepare food material by himself. So I will purchase necessary materials from neighboring small vegetable shop, meat shop. In this way, I will make personal connection with neighboring persons.
Space of my shop will be 30 square meters and the number of customer seat will be 20. I will hire one part time employee.
Estimated sales amount is 1.5 million yen per month.
This food shop is very small. So I can see every customer’s situation. It is very important to become acquaintance with customers.
And each customers may get acquaintance with other customers. If they can know each other, they will come to my shop to meet with their familiar persons.
焼き鳥大吉 is community based food shop. Even in the case of covid-19 situation, this kind of shop is sustainable. Familiar customers are willing to purchase grilled chicken to eat out.
Actually no franchisee closed their business during situation of corona virus.
In the case of 焼き鳥大吉, franchisee can rent shop space from head office (franchiser) by payment of 1.5 million yen (participation fee). In this case monthly rental fee for franchiser is 270,000 yen.
Cost rate (cost to purchase food material) will be 30% of sales price.
Labor cost for employee will be 15% of sales price, royalty will be 30000 yen per month.
In this way, I will be able to receive 500,000 yen per month.
If this business goes well, I can purchase the shop space from head office. In that case I need to pay 50,000 yen per month instead of 270,000 yen.
Delivery of food and law of Japan
Assumed that you are operating a restaurant in Japan.
You may hope to use motorbike or vehicle to deliver meals to customers.
However in order to use motorbike or vehicle to deliver food, you need to take necessary process.
Actually, two illegal delivery cases were sent to prosecutors office recently.
They delivered meals to customers without necessary notification or permit of government several times.
According to Motor Truck Transportation Business Act (貨物自動車運送事業法), when a person delivers items (including food, beverage) for business purpose by motor bike or car, notification or permit of government is necessary (depending on size of motor bike or car).
You are going to start Restaurant Business in Japan. However the most important matter is that how you will advertise your Business before you actually start your shop.
If you are going to advertise your business after you actually prepare a Restaurant space, you will encounter difficulties.
Even if you advertise your shop, it will take several months until your prospective customers find you.
So before you actually start your Restaurant, you need to be a famous person to some extent.
If you are going to start food business, you may make excellent meals and post videos in SNS etc. every day for several months (Virtual restaurant).
And you will collect a lot of followers. And when they hope that you start physical restaurant, you will start it.
As for paper works to start food business, you will hire a person who can assist you and you can concentrate on advertisement of your business.
Don’t rent an exclusive restaurant space when you launch your business in Japan
In my neighborhood, there are many restaurants. You may hope to live in Japan by starting a business in Japan. So, you may choose the restaurant business to obtain business manager visa.
However, in my neighborhood, there are some restaurants operated by foreign nationals. And unfortunately, they always do not have sufficient customers.
I wonder how they are able to keep that store running.
Even if your main purchase is to obtain business manager visa in Japan, you should start your business with the smallest size.
You will use shared restaurant. Then, in that case you will not be able to obtain business manager visa. But you will hire a part time worker. And she will start your business.
And when you have found that you can make sufficient profit, you will invest 5 million yen and try to obtain a business manager visa.
In order to start your business in Japan, you will need to rent a restaurant space or an office space or residence. And in order to rent it, you will need to prepare a guarantor or resident business partner in Japan. If you can not find a suitable person, you can contact me.
When you start a restaurant in Japan, you might rent an actual restaurant and try to get customers to come to that restaurant.
But to do that you need to pay millions of yen to get started.
I wouldn’t be able to pay such a large sum of money for a business that I don’t know if it will work yet.
In that case, you could use a “Ghost Restaurant”.
If you think you need a place for customers to sit down to start a restaurant business, consider this option.
A Ghost restaurant is like a shared office.
You share a place to cook with other restaurant operators. The place already has all the equipment needed to get a restaurant license. There is no space for customers to come in. So you don’t have to pay the high monthly rent.
Since you don’t occupy the place, the monthly fee you pay will be lower.
Your menu may be niche. In that case, you won’t be able to attract many customers.
But with a “Ghost Restaurant”, your monthly fixed costs are low enough to keep you profitable.
In a “Ghost Restaurant”, you take orders from customers via an app or other means, and you or your employees prepare and deliver the food to the customers in the “Ghost Restaurant”. Of course, you wouldn’t be delivering the food by yourself.
You could use Uber Eats, etc.
1. You need a food sanitation administrator
Even if you are opening a “Ghost Restaurant”, you still need to appoint a food sanitation administrator, a person in charge of food sanitation.
To become a food sanitation administrator, you will need to attend a food sanitation lecture. If you do not speak Japanese, I will attend the lecture with you.
There is also a final exam. But you may pass it if you attend the lecture with me.
2. Obtain a restaurant business license
Even for a “Ghost Restaurant”, a restaurant business permit is required.
Ghost restaurants already have the necessary equipment to obtain a restaurant business license. So you, as the food safety administrator, will get the restaurant business license.
3. think about the delivery method
You would concentrate on cooking. Or you might concentrate on advertising your business. Marketing is important. There are countless restaurants and competition is fierce. Your menue will need to be unique.
Also important is where you start your “Ghost Restaurant”.
Many people with high incomes will be ordering Uber Eats. So if you start your “Ghost Restaurant” in the countryside, finding customers will be tough.
It is better to start in an area with many high-rise apartments in the city center.
Even if you lived in a detached house, getting a restaurant permit using your home would be a challenge.
There is a big difference between equipment for a home and equipment for getting a restaurant business permit.
In the case of a “Ghost Restaurant”, even if your menu doesn’t attract customers, you can change to a different menu.
If you rented an actual restaurant and started an Indian restaurant and then tried to change it to Italian food you would have to spend a lot of money.
Also, a “Ghost Restaurant” would be less affected by the weather. In a regular physical restaurant, the number of customers would probably decrease on rainy days. But in the case of a “Ghost Restaurant”, this is not a problem.
To start this business, you must first provide a food that people will want to eat again.
And it is important that you become famous even before you start your “Ghost Restaurant”. (Even among the Japanese, of course.)
No matter how good your meals are, there are already plenty of similar meals out there.
So you should start advertising about what you do best (cooking) months before you open your business.
If you can’t even become famous (and attract twitter follower), then I suggest you don’t start a business.
You may never find a place to start your “Ghost Restaurant”.
In that case you should contact me. I will help you out.
Your time is valuable.
Starting a business in Japan can be a great opportunity, but it can also be challenging, especially if you’re not physically present in Japan.
As your business assistant in Japan, I can provide you with the support and assistance you need to get your business off the ground and running smoothly, whether you want to sell products or provide services to the Japanese market.
In addition to helping you sell products to Japanese customers, I can also act as a buying agent on your behalf. I will look for high-quality products from Japanese manufacturers and suppliers and arrange for them to be shipped directly to you (Unfortunately, I do not have special connection with wholesalers in Japan).
This can save you time and money by eliminating the need to travel to Japan or deal with the language barriers and cultural differences that can make doing business in Japan challenging.
If you’re interested in selling products to Japanese customers, I can help you set up an online shop or list your products on popular e-commerce platforms in Japan. I can also help you with product descriptions and marketing materials to ensure that your products appeal to Japanese customers and are presented in a way that resonates with the Japanese market.
In addition to product sales, I can also provide a range of services to help you succeed in Japan. For example, I can assist with market research, competitor analysis, and product localization to ensure that your products and services meet the unique needs and preferences of the Japanese market.
I can also help you navigate Japanese business culture, laws, and regulations to ensure that your business operates smoothly and successfully in Japan.
Overall, as a business assistant in Japan, I am here to help you succeed in the Japanese market. Whether you’re looking to sell products, provide services, or source high-quality products from Japan, I can provide the support and assistance you need to achieve your goals and thrive in the Japanese market.
So, if you’re interested in starting a business in Japan or need assistance with any aspect of doing business in Japan, please don’t hesitate to contact me.akiyama(a)japan-law-tax.com). As a business assistant in Japan, I am here to help you succeed and achieve your goals in the Japanese market.
If you are considering starting a restaurant business with the main purpose of living in Japan, you may want to explore other options.
Starting a restaurant business requires a lot of initial investment. And that initial investment cannot be recouped unless you have customers.
If you have the funds to start a restaurant business, it may be better to use such funds for another business.
Suppose you have 10,000,000 yen to start a restaurant. Suppose you use that money to buy a used automobile. In this case, your 10,000,000 yen has just been transformed into a used car. At least someone will buy your used car for 5,000,000 yen.
In the case of a restaurant, how many customers would it take to collect the 10,000,000 yen you paid?
If you are not from Japan, you should look for one that has a difference in selling price between your home country and Japan.
You might as well make the most of the advantage you have.
If you have contacts with people overseas, you will take advantage of them.
It is very difficult for someone who has not lived in Japan for a long time to start a restaurant business in Japan.
In fact, starting a restaurant business in Japan is not an easy task even for Japanese.
But you must decide for yourself what kind of business you want to start. If you cannot even make such a decision, starting a business is not for you. I recommend that you work as an employee first to gain experience, even if it is at a low wage.
akiyama(at)japan-law-tax.com Tomohiko AKIYAMA