When starting a restaurant business here in Japan, zoning regulations usually are not the primary concern. We can open and run a restaurant right in the middle of a quiet residential area. Surprised?
One of the reasons behind it probably lies in the limited land. Japan is a mountainous country where two thirds of the land are covered by mountains. So the government, in order to efficiently use the limited land, thinks that it is insignificant to place a clear cut distinction between commercial and residential areas like in other western countries.
If you plan to start a restaurant business in Japan, one thing you may wish to remember is that officers from the Public Health Center visit your site and inspect to see if everything is in order and conforms to local regulations. It is, therefore, very important to start dealing with the authority, before submitting the application, by showing detail floor plans, including what equipment to be installed and its position in the kitchen. Acquiring restaurant business permit here in Japan is not just a simple file-and-register process. Of course the worst part is, as always, there’s no English information made available by the authority.
The application may be taken care of by a licensed practitioner, in this case, “Gyoseishoshi” administrative scrivener. They are licensed to represent the applicant in filing documents with the national and local governments.
Oh, talking about restaurants in residential surroundings, there are many nice cozy ones in the Maruyama district in Sapporo; French, Italian, Spanish, and of course Japanese … and you name it 🙂 I hear that Asian cuisines are getting more popularity here in Sapporo. With the sharp rise of the number of Asian tourists here, I think it’s a natural trend.