Today, a large share of Japanese restaurants are focusing their marketing efforts on inbound tourists to Japan. Their concepts have revolved around entertaining foreign tourists who seek to enjoy the richness of Japanese cuisine. To achieve this goal, these establishments have undertaken initiatives such as offering menus in multiple foreign languages and hiring multilingual staff members. In addition to these on-site policies, many high-end restaurants have shifted to online booking platforms to increase their revenue streams.
A recent and intriguing trend among this category of eateries are restaurants where you can enjoy both Japanese culture and Japanese cuisine all in the same go, which have come to be known as “experience-based restaurants.” The concept allows restaurants to highlight the subculture unique to Tokyo. These innovative strategies often include combining Japanese cuisine in interesting ways with popular culture, such as in maid cafes in Tokyo’s electronics district of Akihabara, or a restaurant where flashy robots and human performers put on a cabaret-like show for you while you enjoy your meal in the center of Tokyo. There are also some restaurants that specialize in seafood that allow you to catch the fish they will prepare for your meal. All of these recent restaurant design concepts utilize the Japanese cultural experience to the fullest potential to add to the dining atmosphere therein.
For travelers who seek a more traditional Japanese cultural experience, there are restaurants where geisha can come to the dining table to perform dances, play musical instruments, or sing to the client while they dine. This treats the customer not only to a fantastic meal but also allows them to experience a slice of Japanese history right before their eyes.
These trends in the high-end segment of Japanese restaurants are likely to expand even more in the future as greater numbers of foreign visitors arrive in Japan to soak up as much cultural immersion as they can. Whether it's high-tech robots serving you, or a kimono-clad Geisha in full makeup, the market for “experienced-based” restaurants is poised to grow to meet the demand of culture-hungry travelers.