Cheap and Convenient Places to Eat

Self-service ticketing or family restaurants are everywhere

By Elena Lisina    - 2 min read

If you visit Japan for the first time you may find it hard to choose somewhere for lunch, especially if you're limited for time. If the language is not your skill then most of the restaurants with their signs in Japanese may prove to be a barrier. In many places you will see plastic models or colour photos of the served dishes in windows. This, of course, is very helpful, but there is often the unfamiliar factor involved.

During my trips I discovered many 'family restaurants' with convenient service, affordable prices and English menus. A good example of such places is the SKYLARK group featuring restaurants like Gusto, Bamiyan and Jonathon's. Again, these restaurants are all over the country with each 'specialising' in one kind of cuisine or another. Gusto and Jonathon's have a Western theme while Bamiyan's is Chinese. At these places, you choose from the large menu on your table and then press the button on the table to call the staff over to order. Payment is at the cashier after your meal.

Gusto in Yokohama
Gusto in Yokohama

Another system available at many places is of the self-service type where you simply choose a dish from a ticket machine by the door and pay at the machine. The machine will give you a ticket which you then pass on to a staff member. A hugely popular example of such a place is the gyudon chain store YOSHINOYA. Whether on Takeshita street in Tokyo's Harajuku or on Jozenji Dori in Sendai, Yoshinoya's beef-on-rice bowls are literally everywhere. For only a few hundred yen you get a simple but satisfying meal. Variations and extras are available.

Yoshinoya stands out with its bright orange
Yoshinoya stands out with its bright orange

Japan overflows with cheap and convenient places to eat. So whether you prefer the self-service ticket style often found with Japanese foods or the large, colourful menus of the family restaurants, eating in Japan is very easy.

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: Matane!

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Elizabeth S a year ago
I must admit, when I’m on the go and need something fast and good to sustain me, I go to Sukiya, Matsuya or Yoshinoya for gyudon. They’re usually open 24 hours. Gyudon for breakfast is a thing, too.
Elena Lisina Author a year ago
I usually eat small breakfast, but like big dinner - upside down! :P
Sleiman Azizi a year ago
I used to live off of Matsuya, a gyudon chain similar to Yoshinoya.
Kim B a year ago
We love family restaurants like Gusto! Great for families since they have high chairs and kids menus!