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dress code?

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can anybody tell me if there is a dress code at many high end japanese restaurants? I will be in osaka/tokyo/kyoto for a few weeks, would like to try some higher end michelin star restaurants, but am not loving the idea of having to pack a suit/extra shoes in my already heavy luggage. thanks!

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  1. There isn't a "formal" dress code, but at many of the top-end French and Italian (much less so at the Japanese top-end) you'll certainly look completely out of place if you aren't wearing proper shoes and at least a sports jacket. And in Japan, the last thing you want to do is look out of place. You'll stick out like a sore thumb and make yourself, other diners, and the restaurant staff uncomfortable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      True. I would add that you do not need a suit (though in some French high end places, jackets are required and often provided by the restaurant if you do not have one), but it is not asking too much to have decent shoes, decent pants and a shirt, rather than jeans and trainers. That should not involve that much extra packing. As Uncle Yabai says, Japanese top end restaurants are less formal when it comes to attire, but the jeans and trainer combo is still not really the done thing.

    2. The first time I went to Ryugin, a very cool, maybe 30-40-ish guy came wearing jeans and an untucked white button-down shirt with pointy-toed boots. No doubt they were likely $200+ jeans, an equally expensive shirt, and even more expensive bespoke boots, however. In Japan, sometimes you can get away with wearing "casual" clothing to fancy places if they're clearly expensive, and if you wear them as though they're expensive. Sometimes, not always.

      That being said, I wouldn't walk into a very high-end kaiseki place like that, or a place like Joel Robuchon (Chateau, but at L'Atelier you could get away with cheap jeans from what I saw).

      2 Replies
      1. re: prasantrin

        I saw Jeans at Ryugin too, with two distinctive characteristics: they were designer, and they were worn by non-Japanese. The Japanese were in suits or at lease a sport jacket, as in everywhere else I went.

        1. re: shekamoo

          The guy I saw was Japanese. IIRC, his dining partner (female, also Japanese) was wearing knit shorts with a matching sweater and Manolo-style heels. They were an interesting couple, that's for sure. From the way they looked, it wouldn't have surprised me if the man were a Japanese "talent", and the woman his flavour of the month.

      2. I was at Creations of Narisawa last night and was disappointed by the poor dress of some customers. Wrinkled jeans, unqlo shirts. Didn't see any t-shirts, that was a plus.

        4 Replies
        1. re: yamanote

          Were they mostly ferners? Lots of ferners go there, probably has a bigger reputation with ferners than with Japanese.

          1. re: Uncle Yabai

            Yes, of course gaijin. I should say walmart or carrefour, not uniqlo.

            Perhaps deserving of another thread - Narisawa. An impressive artistic effort, but kind of like eating a Picasso. Maybe its just my comfort food instincts, but I regret not just going to Aux Bacchanales for the Choucroute at 10% the cost.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              Ferners...

              These are the folks that hang out in fern bars, right?

              1. re: Tripeler

                A number of fern bars in Roppongi. The Oak Door at the Grand Hyatt is a more upscale version of such white water buffalo watering hole fern bars.

          2. Went to Kyoto last weekend, ate at 2-star kaiseki restaurant Sakurada. All the serving staff are in kimono, and it's quiet and reserved. There was a group of four, no foreigners, where one guy was wearing shiny silver sneakers, ripped jeans, and a white t-shirt that said 'Grandma Take Me Home'.

            My point being that, in Japan, paying cash for service does a lot to negate any potential dress codes. French places are probably a bit different.

            1. Just avoid anything overly ugly:

              1. Long pants
              2. Proper shoes, if sneaker then clean
              3. No funny t-shirts

              1 Reply
              1. re: Scharn

                In the favour of this summer, there might be new wave like, the without socks and without stocking! A premier!!! I'm voting for... Who doesn't.

              2. Even if a jacket is required, you don't necessarily need to wear a suit. It is common in Europe to wear jeans (obviously not torn and not too "washed") with a suit jacket and smart leather shoes. A nice crisp white, black or striped suit shirt is a must :-) but no tie, no full suit. I bet that would be acceptable in even the best restaurants.

                From my travel experiences, what matters most are the shoes and the shirt. They must look crisp and new. Everything else is just a ting of attitude :-)