Yelp or Not? How to Find Restaurants in Japan

Last updated: May 27, 2017 

restaurants in Japan

When planning a trip to Japan, you definitely want to figure out where to eat and what to eat. Given the fact there are nearly 200,000 dining places in Tokyo alone, you might think it is wise to do research ahead of time.

But what should you look up?

When it comes to the Japanese market, the review giant Yelp doesn’t quite cut it. Their coverage is still patchy and they are short on reviews written in English (most Japanese Yelpers post reviews in Japanese). Besides many residents don’t know Yelp, rather they rely on other sources original to Japan when looking for a place to eat. So you may want to try these websites in place for Yelp, as they all offer services in English.

Tabelog

Tabelog

The largest restaurant review site in Japan claiming over 800,000 restaurants rated by 12 million customers. The posts are transferred from the Japanese site and many contents are showing in Japanese language. That’s the downside. But you can use Google Translate available on each page and browse hundreds of photos submitted by Japanese people (you know…they are obsessed with photographing food).

The site also picks up restaurants for you, such as Top 3 Ramen or Top 3 Lunch. Maybe they are advertisers but it’s a good place to start.

GURUNAVI

gurunavi

Tabelog’s competitor, this site has successfully undergone the multi-language localization for foreign tourists. On the English site, everything is in English with some supplemental info in Japanese such as business name. One notable feature: this is not a review site but “Restaurant Guide” so you don’t see any opinions or experiences from customers, unfortunately.

Still you can check out the menu, view lots of photos and get a great deal with coupons. Indeed offering coupons is their thing.

TripAdvisor Japan

160301tripadvisor2s

The world’s largest travel site does some job in navigating restaurants in Japan. Due to the global recognition, the site boasts many English postings by international travelers. That’s a plus.

Downside? This is the website by travelers for travelers, it doesn’t cover places like a local hangout or authentic establishment too well. If you are a type of the person who likes to do what locals do, you may find popular restaurants here a bit too touristy.