Japanese Language Blog

A Restaurant that is Gentle to Women Posted by on Oct 29, 2020 in Culture

Gender inequality (男女不平等) still seems to be alive and strong in Japan.  But now it has become discreet without also being ill-intentioned.  What I mean is that nobody seems to have any idea that s/he is discriminating (差別する) or is being discriminated against. Perhaps discrimination may be too strong of a word.  Stereotyped, or over-generalized may be more appropriate (適切な).  But thoseare the sources (源) of discrimination.

On the surface, it looks like the media, and particularly the restaurant industry, cares about women so much that they created special menus, special façades, and special interiors especially for women. I mean – really (本当に)?

It’s even difficult to know what term I should use to translate 女性 (female/woman). There are several words for women in English. There are two in Japanese; 女 and 女性.  女 is used to choose a gender in a form, and it is also used to refer to a criminal who is a female, for example.  If a female is a victim, 女 is never used.  When a restaurant promotes a new menu specially made for woman, 女性 is used.  I wondered; should I use “a woman” or “a female” or even “a lady” in this blog?

I researched to see if there were restaurants in Tokyo promoting special menus made for a woman in English. Women, female, and even ladies are used.  But the hits in English are much less than those in Japanese.  Let me use 女性as currently employed by the media and the restaurant industry.

Here are some examples actually used in Japan or on Japanese TV.

Kind to 女性 (女性に優しい)

Makes 女性 happy (女性が喜ぶ)

Specialized for 女性 (女性のための)

So what do these above sentences mean?

  • Specialized in (専門にする) seafood that 女性 loves
  • Chef is kind to 女性
  • Specialized in vegetables that 女性 loves
  • Specialized in healthy (ヘルシーな) and organic (オルガニックな) ingredients
  • Offer sweets that are healthy
  • Offer a healthy menu
  • Fashionable exterior and interior
  • Offer dishes (料理) that are beautiful to look at
  • Dishes are light taste (あっさり味)
  • Meal comes with dessert
  • If you are 女性, you will be impressed
  • Recommended to 女性

This is a screenshot of the result of my search – restaurants that are gentle/kind to 女性 in Japanese.

Yahoo.co.jp search for 女性に優しいレストラン

Screenshot by author







While I was writing these, I heard how ramen shops try to entice women to their establishments on the Japanese news.

  • The restaurant specializes in western dishes(洋食), so a young 女性can order a bowl of ramen easily
  • This ramen is popular(人気がある) among 女性as it has many vegetables
  • The ramen restaurant chain was established with an idea that “ladies would be able to come eat alone freely”
  • Ramen with vegetables is a special menu targeting 女性
  • Even 女性can make an additional order of noodles(替え玉*)
  • Developed so that even 女性can eat a lot

Here is the webpage of a ramen chain, Soranoiro.  Those mentioned above are not from this chain except for the third one – “ladies would be able to come eat alone freely”.  They offer vege-ramen, gluten-free ramen, and ramen for vegans to appeal many that have been ignored in the traditional(従来の、伝統的な) ramen shop industry.

Image by Vardan Sevan from Pixabay

While there are so many ramen shops, this is a great marketing scheme to help differentiate (差別化する) themselves from thousands of others.  It is target-marketing.  Dishes look tasty and are very different.  I believe the owner’s philosophy to offer ramen to the niche market – those who have not been able to eat ramen before – is a unique concept (コンセプト、概念), and it seems to be very successful.  How many times have I heard from my vegetarian and vegan friends that it is very difficult (難しい) to live in Japan.

So why am I bothered by their initial concept of a “ramen shop where a woman can enter alone.”  I am not comfortable bringing in gender in restaurant marketing.  I am sure gender is considered in some restaurant marketing worldwide, but not publically (公に) like in Japan.  I would have no problem if the concept were “offering ramen to those who have not been able to eat ramen before.” But this is Japan, where a TV reporter says, “this restaurant offers various salads so women can enjoy the restaurant, too.”

Of course, there are many women, who can enter men-filled eateries without hesitation and who love greasy meat dishes.  That will be another subject in the future.

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  1. Eleanor Vilppu:

    For those of us just learning it would be wonderful to have romaji in addition to the kanji.