Hot on the heels of the controversial Go To Travel campaign, which launched on July 22 despite a countrywide surge in COVID-19 infections, comes the Go To Eat campaign. Kicking off in October, 2020, Go To Eat is a similar initiative by the Japanese government to boost consumer spending and help the economy recover from losses caused by the pandemic.

Go To Eat is part of the government’s broader “Go To” campaign, a name that has been found to lend itself to fiery collocations on Japanese Twitter.

Events (Go To Event) and shopping streets (Go To Shoutengai) are other areas that the government plans to boost in the coming months, though details are still sparse.

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What is Go To Eat?

The campaign has two components: discount vouchers (premium meal tickets), and point-based rewards.



Discount vouchers

Go To Eat encourages people to dine out by offering them “discounts” (or savings) of up to 25%. To make that happen, a number of restaurants are being subsidized by the Japanese government. They had to apply to be part of the campaign—it does not apply to all eateries.

Chabuzen Vegan Ramen
Photo by Gregory Lane

The 25% discount/savings will be available in the form of vouchers. It seems like one voucher will cover a group of eateries in a given area. As an example, you might be able to buy a voucher booklet for ¥10,000 for Neighborhood X: this would give you ¥12,500 in spending money at the participating restaurants. The discount is built in, if you see what we mean.

It seems that travel agencies like JTB, Japan Travel and Tobu Top Tours will be the authorized sellers of the discount vouchers.

October 9, 2020 update: From October 14, you will be able to pay for and print out your discount vouchers from FamiPort ticket machines at participating Family Mart convenience stores. However, you will first need to apply for the voucher on the dedicated prefectural Go To Eat Campaign website you are interested in. Each prefecture has its own micro site for the campaign.

As of the end of August, 35 eateries across 33 prefectures, including Osaka and Aichi, had apparently been registered as part of the Go To Eat campaign. More prefectures may participate in the coming months.

October 1, 2020 update: The discount vouchers are expected to become available in Niigata Prefecture from October 5, with other participating prefectures following suit by November. In Tokyo, the vouchers are expected to go on sale from November 20.

You can check the official Go To Eat campaign website for up-to-date information and announcements.

Point-based rewards

A different way that customers will be able to save money on eating out is by booking certain restaurants online, which will give them ¥500 (from lunches) to ¥1,000 (from dinners) in points when they pay after their meal. From what we understand, these can then be redeemed at the same restaurant when the customer visits again.

This part of the Go To Eat campaign is due to start from October 1, 2020.

There are more than 10 websites you can use to make the reservations, including:

For a full list, you can check the Japanese site Travelers Navi.

grilled chicken
Photo by iStock.com/robbin0919

Conditions of the Go To Eat campaign

Conditions include the following:

  • No change will be given for partially-used vouchers
  • Vouchers will be on sale until the end of January, 2021
  • Vouchers will be valid until the end of March, 2021
  • The number of vouchers and points that can be used by one person will be limited.

Where will Go To Eat apply?

The Go To Eat campaign is expected to run nationwide, but the start date will likely differ by participating prefecture, depending on when the restaurant coupons are ready, when their COVID-19 prevention preparations have been completed, and what’s happening with COVID-19 numbers. There’s a possibility that the Go To Eat campaign will be postponed or suspended if cases spike.

Tokyo’s high infection rate saw it temporarily excluded from the Go To Travel campaign, but so far nothing similar has been announced for the Go To Eat campaign.

Preparing food, cooking
Photo by istock.com/AnnaRolandi

Is the Go To Eat campaign a good idea right now?

We’ll let you be the judge of that. Eating out, especially in indoor spaces with poor ventilation, does come with risks. See how to reduce those risks.

Restaurants will need to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to participate in the Go To Eat campaign. Looking at the official Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Go To Eat campaign page, preventative measures will need to be taken in accordance with industry guidelines, and include things like appropriate social distancing between diners.

Photo by Chris Kirkland

Will Go To Eat apply to takeout?

It looks like it may apply to some takeout and delivery options at some of the participating restaurants—you’ll need to check with each one, though.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published on July 22, 2020. Last updated on October 19, 2020.

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