American Franchises in Japan

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Japan is a place where you can find just about every possible American food franchise.  Some are pretty obscure (Big Boy is really popular there, but there are none where I live), others like McDonald’s, Subway and KFC are well-established.  Then there’s the weird ones.  Why on earth is Taco Bell in Japan?

Speaking of which, in our last trip to Japan, we did eat at a Subway in the Roppongi neighborhood of Tokyo:

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This was the spicy Tandoori sandwich. It was indeed spicy, and very good. It is possible to order a foot-long, though we didn’t see that on the menu, and unlike Subway in the US, you generally don’t choose the toppings unless you explicitly ask.

What’s fascinating is that American food franchises in Japan are not only successful, but oftentimes a lot better quality than the original American ones. I haven’t eaten at a Taco Bell since I was 22 and playing LAN parties with friends (anyone still do those?), but I’m willing to bet it tastes a lot better. I eat Subway only occasionally, and I can say from personal experience that McD’s, Starbucks and KFC are all noticeably better in Japan. Even Denny’s which is kind of cheap diner food in the US is pretty good in Japan.

Japan has no lack of good food, both traditional and modern, so it’s fascinating that American franchises still thrive in such an environment. I guess the general appreciation for food and quality make the difference though.

P.S. More on family restaurants in Japan.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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