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Because you enjoy cooking, you may have fantasized about opening your restaurant. Possibly you have years of experience in the restaurant industry and have meticulously planned everything, from the delectable food and friendly staff to the ideal location and distinctive atmosphere.

Regardless of what brought you here, you now wish to pursue your ambition and make it a reality. Okay, but you still have to exert effort!

Beginning a restaurant requires careful planning, which is more manageable when broken down into smaller chunks. You should consider the following steps.

Food business licenses in Japan 

As in other countries, if you wish to open a food-related business in Japan, such as a restaurant or food manufacturing facility, you must apply for permission. Under the Food Sanitation Law, a business license is required for a variety of food businesses.

This guide includes all the information required to open a restaurant in Japan. In the majority of the nation’s regions, the procedure is the same.

How to start a restaurant in Japan

To run a restaurant, you must rent a property, which is currently easier for foreigners than it was a decade ago. There have been instances in which landlords refused to rent to foreign tenants or demanded a deposit equivalent to a year’s worth of rent to establish a lease. Nonetheless, an increasing number of landlords are now willing to rent to international tenants.

If you wish to open a restaurant, you must first obtain approval from the Local Public Health Center (“hoken-jo”), and if you plan to remain open past midnight or serve alcohol, you must also obtain approval from the Public Safety Commission (“koan-iinkai”). The application for the permit must be submitted, and the restaurant owner is required to complete a brief course on food sanitation management. That’s it.

Be aware that you may be required to obtain specific permits to serve certain foods, such as raw oysters and pufferfish. On the website of the Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, a list of food-related industries requiring licenses can be found. It is typically not difficult to obtain a license for a restaurant.

Restaurant opening application procedure

Before opening your restaurant, you must consult with the Environmental Health Division of the Public Health and Welfare Center of your desired location. If you need to comprehend technical explanations, you should bring a Japanese-speaking companion if your proficiency in the language is insufficient.

Following are the steps required to obtain a food service license, from application to approval:

Drawing consultant

You must provide a drawing of your property for review before construction. Depending on the specifics, a request to modify the drawing to conform to facility standards may be made.


Submit your application for a restaurant license to the Environmental Health Division desk one to two weeks before the completion of construction. The date of the site inspection will be altered after receiving your application materials.

Facility inspection 

Following the conclusion of construction, the site will be evaluated for conformity with the facility’s specifications. If there are any flaws, they will be rectified before being re-inspected.


After confirming that the location meets the facility requirements, authorization will be granted within five days of the inspection, at which point you can begin using your restaurant license.

Documents that must accompany your restaurant’s application form

Explained below are the required documents needed for the application to open a restaurant in Japan

In the case of private operation

You must present identification attesting to your address, name, and date of birth (The certificate of residence, the residence card, etc.).

In the case of corporate operation

Certification of registered matters by the Legal Affairs Bureau is required. (For both, originals must be presented. Within six months of its issuance, the certificate of residence or certificate of registered matters must be presented).

Food sanitation manager

A certificate attesting to your qualifications as a food sanitation manager; qualified candidates include nutritionists, cooks, confectionary hygienists, global fish processors, poultry processing sanitation managers, and ship cooks. (You must hire a manager of food sanitation for your restaurant. If you do not already have the certification, you must complete a one-day training course for food sanitation managers).

Depending on the number of customers and square footage of your restaurant, you may need to apply for a fire prevention license from your local fire department (For restaurants with a capacity of fewer than 30 people, no license is needed). As soon as possible, submit applications for all applicable insurances, including those for your employees.

You can start preparing meals and selling them once your restaurant is open.