how to find a non-smoking restaurant in Japan

Going out in Japan can sometimes be rough if you're a non-smoker (like me). Granted, times are changing in Japan, and more and more facilities and areas are now completely non-smoking, or have a small room or area designated specifically for smoking. Kanagawa prefecture went completely non-smoking last year, making it the first prefecture in Japan to ban smoking in public areas such as beaches, and various public facilities such as schools and hospitals (though I think both of those are *generally* non-smoking in Japan now anyway) and even restaurants, if the restaurant didn't already have separated smoking/non-smoking areas. At times, I wish I lived in Kanagawa, if only for that.

Now, of course, I mean no offense to anyone who does smoke - it's all choice and I'm completely fine with that. My only issue is when kids or pregnant women are around or I have to sit and breathe it because of the location I'm in, as I've got some extremely annoying allergies (well, and I just don't care for it in general). Thus sometimes, eating out can pose a challenge if you are a non-smoker and wish to avoid smoke at all costs.

Yes, smoke-free restaurants exist, as do various restaurants that are divided into smoking/non-smoking areas, but I can guarantee there are also plenty of restaurants that have neither So if you are a serial non-smoker, you might be lucky to enjoy a good meal without inhaling secondhand smoke, that is, until the person sitting near you lights up. Of course, if it's a smoking restaurant, you just have to deal with it, because they are well within their rights to smoke - but from experience, it's also ruined some meals for me, and makes me want to try and avoid it when possible.

This is easier said than done.

The other day, my husband and I were feeling lazy and wanted to go out to eat, although I was feeling a little off that day and didn't really want to take our chances with the smoking thing. I don't know if you've heard of Tabelog (食べログ), a great restaurant search tool for all over Japan, but it comes in handy for looking up restaurants. I often browse that site, though I noticed most listings in our area did not designate if they were smoking, non-smoking, or if they had separated seating. (Some listings do, but I find it to be hit or miss). The only way we could know for sure was to call every place and ask, and after the first few, it does get kind of annoying.

Enter new search. I pulled up Google, this time hoping I could somehow discover some non-smoking restaurants by using those very keywords (smart, I know...). Lo and behold, I discovered a website called "Kinen Style", or actually, "禁煙スタイル" (Non-smoking style).

This website proved its worth as I could search by either keyword, (such as a food type) or location (all in Japanese). So I chose the appropriate areas and ended up at this spot (below) to choose a city.

After choosing the areas we would be willing to go, the results were a list of food types, with clickable links for the types of restaurants or cafes in that particular area that have non-smoking.

While the list was quite extensive, with some places I didn't know about previously, I also noted there were a few places not on the list that probably could have been - as it appears that either store owners or anyone in general can submit venues, so it's not necessarily a comprehensive list at this point in time.

After you've chosen a specific place, you can view basic information about it, including the hours and days open, a map, whether it has parking or not, and if the restaurant is completely non-smoking, or separated, or if there are designated non-smoking times.

To be honest, I love the concept of the site, and it will be interesting to see how many more places are added in the future. But for now, I know I can at least find something non-smoking in a pinch.

Go to Kinen Style.

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