How To Make Restaurant Reservations in Japan Without Japanese

By Rika Hoffman
Updated: May 10, 2024

If you’ve had difficulty making restaurant reservations in Japan, the country with the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, you’re certainly not alone. 

Travelers face multiple obstacles when making restaurant reservations in Japan. A restaurant’s exclusivity and the language barrier are just some examples.

Currently, only a small percentage of the restaurants in Japan can be reserved online, and most of them require a decent level of Japanese reading comprehension to do so. As for other restaurants, making a reservation over the phone is possible; however, many restaurants cannot accommodate English-speaking customers. 

Thankfully for international visitors, byFood's restaurant reservation service makes it easy to reserve restaurants in Japan without needing to know any Japanese at all. 

Making every restaurant in Japan accessible

In August 2020, byFood launched a new restaurant reservation service with the mission of making every restaurant in Japan accessible to foreign travelers. The platform has an easy-to-navigate directory of restaurants, which filters by location, type of cuisine, price range, dietary restrictions, and more.

Wondering how it works? In this post, we'll cover: 

  • What types of restaurant reservations are available on byFood
  • How to make a restaurant reservation in Japan without Japanese
  • Restaurant etiquette in Japan
  • A few FAQs

What types of restaurant reservations are available on byFood?

ByFood offers two types of restaurant reservations: paid and course menu options.

Paid reservations

A rectangular platter with a variety of tofu, seafood and vegetables, part of a kaiseki meal in Kyoto, Japan

Paid reservations are available for restaurants where a reservation is recommended. After you submit a reservation request, the restaurant will be contacted directly by a byFood representative. You will be charged a fee for the service if the reservation is confirmed.

Course menus

Participating restaurants on byFood offer course menus, with some exclusive to our platform. View the menu ahead of time, and select the course you'd like. The payment for the reservation and the course meal are all made through byFood, so you can show up at the restaurant and enjoy your luxurious meal hassle-free.

Chef-selected fresh sushi omakase, mouthwatering A5 wagyu, and traditional Japanese kaiseki are just a few of the fabulous courses available. 

How to make restaurant reservations in Japan without Japanese


No need to worry about making reservations in Japanese; here’s how to make a restaurant reservation in English at all types of restaurants, from lunch reservations at casual eateries to omakase courses at Michelin-starred restaurants. 

Step 1: Find a restaurant

Go to the restaurant reservation listing page and search for a restaurant you'd like to visit. You can filter by categories such as areas, dates, cuisine, dietary restrictions, price range, and Michelin awards. 

Step 2: Enter your information

Once you have selected your restaurant, enter the number of guests and choose the date and time for your lunch or dinner. Restaurants accepting paid reservations will have a button saying "Reserve Now."

Step 3: Check out

On the checkout page, you will confirm your personal information and agree to our terms and conditions. 

For paid reservations, you will also submit payment info for the restaurant reservation service using a credit card like Amex, Visa, or Mastercard. Note that this payment does not cover the bill, which will be paid as usual at the restaurant after the meal.

Step 4: Enjoy!

When you arrive at the restaurant for your reservation, let the staff know that you have placed a reservation through byFood. Then, sit back and enjoy your meal!

Notes on restaurant etiquette in Japan


Restaurants in Japan, especially high-end establishments, have a lot of pride in their food. Chefs spend decades perfecting their techniques to provide the perfect dining experience. It's a real shame when ingredients go to waste because of a last-minute cancellation.

It's crucial for us to return the courtesy and respect chefs give their customers. This is why we ask guests to adhere to basic restaurant etiquette:

  • The most important and obvious one: Arrive at the restaurant on time.
  • If you are late, understand that there is a chance you will not be able to enjoy the entire meal. Some restaurants will cancel your reservation if you are just 15 minutes late; others might let you in but not serve you a full course.
  • If you think you cannot make your reservation and the cancellation window has not closed, we prefer our guests cancel their reservations with ample time before their selected date and time. This is to prevent restaurants from preparing ingredients they might not be able to serve to other customers. 

When reserving a restaurant on byFood, please also make a note of the restaurant's special remarks. For example, many high-end restaurants request customers not to wear strong perfume. These remarks are there because the restaurants want to create the ambiance that best suits their dishes. Remember: They want to provide you with the ideal experience. 

In some cases, not following these basic rules can result in getting turned away at the door!



What if I can’t find the restaurant I’m looking for?

If you don’t see the restaurant you are looking for on the restaurant listing page, byFood's concierge service is here to help. Just fill out the VIP Gourmet Concierge form, and a byFood representative will be happy to inquire about the restaurant’s availability. It's one of the best things you can do to make the reservation process a breeze!

How do I book omakase restaurants in Tokyo?

Browse these Tokyo restaurants with omakase courses. Once you've selected a restaurant, follow the steps above to send your reservation request. 

You can also sign up for an omakase cooking class, should you want a more hands-on experience. 

What are some popular restaurant suggestions in Tokyo?

A few of Tokyo's notable popular restaurants include Michelin-starred restaurants like Den, Ode, and Sushi Saito. Browse more Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo for some of the top fine dining restaurants in Japan, or contact byFood's VIP Gourmet Concierge for personalized suggestions.

How long does it take to verify the reservation?

This depends on the restaurant and its popularity. Some restaurants can confirm the reservation within 48 hours; others might take a week or more to arrange the reservation.

As a general rule, exclusive and smaller restaurants will likely have a waiting list. The most exclusive restaurants in Japan have a members-only policy. If you'd like to make a reservation at a highly exclusive restaurant, please give as much notice in advance as possible. We also suggest contacting the VIP Gourmet Concierge for additional support.

Some things don’t change


This restaurant reservation service and other platform upgrades have been made in response to the needs of our guests and hosts, but our core values remain the same. 

The mission of spreading happiness through food is still at the forefront of what we do, with restaurant reservations also contributing to our Food for Happiness program, which provides meals to children in need. We will continue to promote local businesses and authentic food experiences across Japan so you can have unforgettable and delicious adventures! 

Have more questions about making restaurant reservations in Japan? See Guest FAQs. If not, start exploring restaurants in Japan!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Rika Hoffman
Rika is a sourdough enthusiast, amateur film photographer, and pun-lover, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A carb-based lifeform, she is always on the lookout for tasty bakeries in Tokyo.
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