Restaurant, Bar and Café Industry

In order to start a restaurant, bar or café in Japan, you will first of all need to acquire the appropriate. Depending on the nature of your business, you will need to meet different requirements in order to do so. While we have translated the name of this license (inshokuten eigyou kyoka in Japanese) as a ‘Restaurant/Bar Business License’, it in fact covers a broad range of establishments from canteens, hotel restaurants, cabaret bars and bento (lunch box) shops. A notable exception among these, however, is cafés which do not serve alcohol. Such cafés must obtain a separate Café License. As for the scale of enterprise covered by the Restaurant/Bar and Café Business Licenses, there is no limit, with everyone from independent business owners to global chains and franchises obliged to gain the same license.


Restaurants and Bars

In order to run a restaurant, bar or similar establishment, there are a number of minimum requirements which you will be asked to meet in order to gain a license. N.B. These are general requirements and do not necessarily reflect the reality of what may be needed for your specific application. In particular, please be aware that requirements for restaurants, bars and cafés vary significantly between regions.

Structure and Layout

Your establishment must: ・Be located in a sufficiently hygienic area ・Be in a building made of sufficiently durable material (reinforced concrete, mortar etc) ・Be suitably divided from surrounding establishments, living quarters etc ・Have a floorspace large enough for its intended function ・Have flooring made from easily cleanable materials not prone to absorbing water (e.g. tiles, concrete) ・Have walls internal walls reaching at least 1m above the floor and made from sufficiently durable material which is easily cleanable ・Have a ceiling which is easily cleanable ・Maintain a brightness level of at least 50 lux (for comparison, Japanese convenience stores are generally 500 lux) ・Have facilities in place for the removal of any dirty smoke or steam (e.g. produced while cooking) ・Be surrounded by pavements/road surfaces made from durable, easily cleanable materials ・Have suitable measures in place for the prevention of rice, insects and other pests ・Have appropriate washing facilities in place for any materials or tools used by employees, including dedicated handwashing and hand disinfectant facilities for employees ・Have changing facilities for employees outside of the main workspace (depending on the number of employees)

Food Preparation Facilities

Your establishment must: ・Have an appropriate number of tools, packaging and other materials which are used in a hygienic manner ・Keep tools in a hygienic location which provides easy access for cleaning ・Keep an appropriate amount of food and tools in stock ・Ensure that tools used directly to handle food are sufficiently durable, easily cleanable and capable of being disinfected using techniques such as boiling, steaming and the application of disinfectant ・Have tools or other facilities which enable the transport of food (where necessary) ・Have displays allowing easy checks of temperature and/or pressure on items such as refrigerators, sterilizers and pressure cookers. Some establishments may also be asked to provide weighing scales.

Water Supply and Waste Management

Your establishment must: ・Have ample water supply provided water officially recognized as drinkable ・Have toilet facilities provided for employees (depending on their number) in an area not intruding on the main workspace ・Have suitable measures in place for the prevention of rice, insects and other pests in the toilet area

Special Conditions Concerning Sale of Alcohol

If you wish to provide a mainly alcohol-based menu to your customers past midnight, you do not need a special permit, but you do need to submit a notification to the local authorities. This is not necessary for those who provide alcohol as part of a menu based mainly on food. ※N.B. If you wish to run a cabaret bar or other establishment associated with the adult entertainment industry, you will need to meet various other requirements in addition to those detailed above, with additional notifications and applications to the local authorities also required. Please get in touch for up to date details.


Cafés notably face far fewer requirements than restaurants and bars. If you wish to run a café, you must: ・Provide refrigeration facilities ・Maintain a brightness of over 10 lux (in space used by customers to dine in) ・Have a toilet for customers with suitable measures in place for the prevention of rice, insects and other pests

For any queries about Japan’s restaurant, bar or café industries or about how to establish your business in Japan, please do not hesitate to contact us!

*Please be aware that the contents of this site are naturally subject to change, meaning that we cannot guarantee their accuracy at the point of access.* *For up-to-date information, please contact us directly.*  

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