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Next year I will be visiting Japan, and I am going to try to get a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro for myself and my son, who will be 11.5 years old at the time. He enjoys sushi and his restaurant behavior is good.

I understand from this article that reservations are hard to come by (kid or no kid), and that the restaurant prefers guests 12 and over.

I intend to disclose my son's true age at the time I make the reservation. I don't want to misrepresent his age and don't want to ask my son to do so.

Have others had any luck securing a reservation for a younger diner (say ages 10-13), and if so, should I expect resistance either on the phone or else at the restaurant itself?

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    The booking in the article was secured through a concierge at Tokyo Mandarin Oriental. Concierge at such high end hotels have built better connections over the years, often being on a first name basis. Chances of a random tourist talking his son's way into that restaurant is about nil. And are you ready to plunk down ¥30,000 (~US$300) for your son's menu (as well as your own)? – user13044 Aug 30 '16 at 6:37
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    The issues of securing a spot and of the child's age seem to be independent; in the article the staff didn't know there was a child until they were at the door. – fkraiem Aug 30 '16 at 6:54
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    Is there any particular reason that you are against saying he is 12? They will not usually ask proof of his age (as this is only required when purchasing alcohol). Mayhap the question is, are you able to explain his age in Japanese? – The Wandering Coder Aug 30 '16 at 8:15
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    Rules like this are for the consideration of other diners. I know teens I wouldn't take anywhere that didn't serve fries. My older son would have enjoyed a meal like this at age 4 and sat quietly in rapt attention. Born foodie. You should have a sense whether yours will be antsy or loud, and if not, go for it! – Andrew Lazarus Aug 30 '16 at 19:13
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    @LampPost Are you confusing Japan with Korea? In Japan you are only 1 / 2 years older for religious age calculations (following the roughly, the lunar cycle). Japan has had the 0 when born since the 1902 満年齢 law. – The Wandering Coder Aug 31 '16 at 1:39
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Just for the sake of putting in an answer to get the ball rolling, Tom has already pointed to the best answer in the first comment: It would generally be somewhat difficult to get a seat at such a place, and the secret is if anything

the hotel you're staying at.

If you're at say the Four Seasons (the downtown one - not the Palace one! :) ) that is your best bet to get in to a basically very expensive joint like that.

The issue of your kid coming along is a difficult one. It's a complex and subtle issue.

1) on the face of it, as you go up the skill and fame level of chefs. you go through a pretentious region of the graph, BUT then at the extremely high end, they aren't pretentious at all. the guy might welcome, a kid eating there, with boisterous open arms.

2) remember that overwhelmingly Japan is just plain ridiculously, almost whackily, polite! (i.e., other than when they're not vomiting-everywhere-drunk). if you think about it - is there any country you could have asked about, that is less suitable to "take a chance" on being rude or ruining someone's evening - heh! In a sense, that's your answer there.

3) as a commenter explains, simply every kid is different. some are natural gourmands, grew up going to fancy restaurants in Paris where they were treated like family and it would be a total non-issue going to some overpriced sushi bar that's been on TV a few times. Others will act up, and totally ruin the night at $1000 a head for the other patrons.

(Note however that the same very much applies to some adults, heh!)

In summary, I'd say in answer to your question (1) how to get in to a staggeringly expensive, overly-famous restaurant - the specific answer is "you'll be staying at one of the top 1 or 2 hotels and it will be entirely up to them". Regarding your question (2) "Should I take a child along to a fancy-ass restaurant" there's no real answer. Note that even if someone here specifically replies "Oh sure, we take Darlene along all the time - Jiro loves her! She gets to sit on the bar!!" the answer just totally depends on the specific person involved.

BTW, unrelatedly I would recommend you consider instead going to Jiro's son's restaurant. (I mean, this is in no connection to your question about your child and so on - I'm just saying, I recommend forgetting about Jiro and going to his son's restaurant!)

BTW it goes without saying you have seen the documentary right? It's easily available on Netflix etc. https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi/70181716

Random suggestion: instead / as well, take your kid to one of the famous sushi bars at the fish market; for incredibly good wasabi and sushi (it's all about the wasabi, man - the sushi's just a bit of cut-up fish, as wasabi fanatics say!), the hotel will hook you up with exactly where to go. That's more of a "local's" "insider" experience, will also cost you a huge amount of money, and is super-suitable for kids. (Are kids lucky today or what? What a memory.)

  • Thanks for the response. My question isn't so much about whether I should take my kid there--rather whether I should expect an issue around my kid's age. Sounds like the real issue is that it will be hard to get in there period, kid or no. – Willie Wheeler Oct 20 '16 at 18:22
  • (And to answer your question, yeah, I've seen the documentary.) – Willie Wheeler Oct 20 '16 at 18:23
  • if your question is "whether I should expect an issue around my kid's age" then yes, absolutely. it will "raise eyebrows". in one word, it's just not an appropriate place for a kid. the fact that there is a whole article about how exceptional it is that some kid once got in there, gives the flavour you know? Sorry, I just took it as read that it would be wholly unusual to take a young person there. – Fattie Oct 20 '16 at 18:24
  • Makes sense. That's what I got from the article too but I was hoping that somebody would show up and say that they'd brought their kid along and it was no problem, or that it's no problem if the kid is prepared to behave like an adult, etc. Thanks Joe. – Willie Wheeler Oct 20 '16 at 18:30
  • Good one - Hopefully some folks living in Japan, or often there, who have kids of that age can make worthwhile observations.... – Fattie Oct 20 '16 at 19:10

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