How to start restaurants in Japan.

I shall explain how foreigners overseas can open restaurants in Japan.

The first issue is what kind of visas foreigners should obtain.
There are various kinds of job in a restaurant. Cooks, servers, accountants and managers, etc. You need to get a business manager visa for opening your own restaurant. Because “cook” is a visa for those employed as cooks. Visa for accountants the name of which is “Engineer, human knowledge and international services” is also for people employed as office workers. There is no visa for simple work like servers. Therefore, when foreigners want to open restaurants, setting up a company is required. Though there is an option to choose to start as self-employed, it’s difficult to explain the business scale which the immigration law demands. Please refer to my old articles “Issues in setting up businesses in Japan” about this reason. And “Starting a business in Japan while overseas.” will also be helpful for understanding an overview of the process of starting a business in Japan.

But there is one problem here. When a Japanese cook starts his own restaurant, he can start it only by himself. There are many restaurants in which an owner cooks, serves and manages. However, foreigners must obtain business manager visas for running restaurants. Therefor foreigners come to hire other cooks, if the owner is also a good cook. Because business manager visas cover only the activity of running companies, and cook visas cover only the activity of cooking.

The second issue is whether an office is required when running restaurants. Having a facility of a restaurant seems enough to explain the actual condition of business. But there are cases when this is rejected for the reason of not having an office. Therefore, you should prepare an office at least when you start.

The third issue is what kind of license is necessary for running restaurants? There is a restaurants business license. The license is issued to the owner and the facility. If the company sell the restaurant to others, the new owner must get another new license. And a new license is also required if the restaurant moves to another location.

There are also other personal license “food sanitation supervisors” when taking restaurant business licenses. At least one food sanitation supervisor must be in the restaurant. A restaurant business license cannot be issued without a food sanitation supervisor. Anyone can be a food sanitation supervisor by taking a one-day seminar and a simple test. However, the seminar and test are conducted in Japanese only. You should probably hire a cook who is a food sanitation supervisor. But you need to be a food sanitation supervisor in case the license holder quits.

There are other small issues which Japanese owners face when opening restaurants, for example suppliers, facilities, location, differentiation, etc. We provide a system for supporting all aspects of your startup.