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Sep 21, 2010 01:17 AM


So I was building my list of restaurants in Japan and then a thought stroke me! How am I going to recognize them if the name is in Japanese????

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  1. LOL!!!

    Aside from taking the address down obviously, you may want to google image search the restaurant and see if an image of its exterior shows up. I would also write down it's Kanji in case the signage isn't in English.

    You can always show people the name written in Kanji on the street and chances are that someone will know where it is.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

      I would do more than copy the kanji.
      I would print them out.
      If they have a website, you might print out the kanji there, but also look for a map and print that too.

      Also, if you are staying at a hotel, contact the concierge, they may be able to put together a packet that will help you get there.

      YOu need maps because, not sure about all of japan, but in Tokyo addresses are not done the way they are here, and you need a map to find anything.
      (the addresses have an area (eg shinjuki) and 3 numbers: 1=a subsection of the area, 2=which block, and 3=which building on the block).
      The numbers are not in spatial order, rather the blocks and houses are numbered in the order they were built!

      1. re: pauliface

        >The numbers are not in spatial order, rather the blocks and houses are numbered in the order they were built!

        Really? I've hunted for hundreds of addresses in Tokyo, and in my experience building lots are always numbered consecutively, although sometimes two or more buildings have the same number. Similarly block numbering usually follows some kind of spatial order, although it can be hard to see when you're on the ground.

        Does anyone know if there are places in Tokyo where this is actually true?

        1. re: Robb S

          I think that both may be true in different locations.
          Here's an interesting discussion thread:

          1. re: pauliface

            Well lots of people seem to believe it's true, but I've never seen non-consecutive lot numbering the many times I've looked, including "older parts" of the city, whatever that means. I've also never noticed it in any of the detailed, lot-by-lot street maps that I own.

            If anyone has an example, it should be very easy to check on Google Maps.

            But whatever the system, your advice about printing out maps was good.

            1. re: Robb S

              On Google Maps, you can even go to a street view to see what the building looks like. Amazing stuff. It is not always easy to find things when traveling, especially when a language barrier is involved.

    2. Many of us are Japanese or read/write Japanese. If you list the restaurants you're planning to go to, we can help you make a list in Japanese to use with the taxi driver, concierge, etc.

      7 Replies
      1. re: gkanai

        There are so many choices I've actually given up! The thing is I'll be in Tokyo for 2 night, 3 night in Kyoto and 2 in Osaka....I want to eat in really unique places, possibly not too expensive, I don't look for fine dining but for the "real-deal".
        I don't want to lose the pleasure of chosing places myself once I am there, but at the same time don't want to end up eating rubbish or turistic stuff!
        I am staying near Shinjuku in Tokyo but I am willing to travel for food...

        What are the best areas I should explore for food and street food in Tokyo?

        1. re: MariaLND

          Fine dining can't be the 'real-deal"? I've eaten at many fine dining places in Japan, and I assure you, they all qualify as the "real deal".

          Unless you happen upon a festival, you won't find much street food in Tokyo. You've not really given much direction or specificity so it's difficult to give good suggestions. If you're mostly looking for low/mid-range restaurants, just walk around Shinjuku for your two nights and you'll have plenty of options.

          1. re: MariaLND

            I recommend Kaikaya, in Shibuya.
            They are not too pricey, very busy and fine (I like to sit at the counter, where you can watch the sautee, grill/broil, and sashimi chefs all work).

            Here is their website:
            And here is a copy of the menu:

            And here is an old chowhound thread about them. The thread is old but I ate there just last spring and agree it's great...

            1. re: pauliface

              I' ll be in Tokyo in 8 days. Do you think it's necessary to book for 3 people at Kaikaya? If yes, could we book it when we get there for the following week?
              Many thanks

              1. re: Ffromsaopaulo

                I would book it, but then I like to have things planned ahead.
                Kaikaya would probably have an opening one week out.
                But! If you are staying at a hotel, I would send an email to the concierge and ask them to make a reservation for you.
                Or, you could try sending an email in english -- you never know!
                Their webside ( lists an email address of

                And/or I notice they have a bulletin board on their site where people have made reservations. go to and click the "bbs" button. Looks like someone from Spain just made one!

                1. re: pauliface

                  I'll ask the concierge.
                  Thanks again

            2. re: MariaLND

              I understand you feel that fine dining is not how people eat on a regular basis - at least it's not in my house.

              I don't generally approve of the 'wherever I stumble in' approach, though sometimes it's necessary to improvise.

              Here is a report of a place we stumbled into, and I was really happy we did. The place we planned on going was inexplicably closed, so we lucked out in finding this spot. It was a truly memorable meal and cost us Y6300 total for two: