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Yoshinoya Co., Ltd.
TYO: 9861
FoundedTokyo, Japan (1899; 124 years ago (1899))
FounderEikichi Matsuda (松田栄吉)
HeadquartersKita, Tokyo, Japan
Number of locations
Areas served
East Asia
Southeast Asia
United States
Key people
Shuji Abe, President and CEO
ProductsFast food

Yoshinoya (𠮷野家) is a Japanese multinational fast food chain, and the second-largest chain of gyūdon (beef bowl) restaurants. The chain was established in Japan in 1899. Its motto is "Tasty, low-priced, and quick".[1]


The kanji (yoshi) means "luck" in Japanese, the kanji (no) means "field", and the kanji (ya) means "house".

The founder of the company, Eikichi Matsuda (松田栄吉), was from the former town of Yoshino (吉野町) in Osaka Prefecture, and a belief predominates that Yoshino is the origin of the name.[2]

In Japan, the nickname of the restaurant is "yoshigyū" (吉牛), which is an abbreviation of Yoshinoya no gyūdon (吉野家の牛丼, Yoshinoya's gyūdon).

Old logo before the 2012 rebranding, still in use outside the US

The logo of Yoshinoya resembles a bull horn, and was invented by Yoshinoya's founder Eikichi Matsuda. The idea of the bull horn was derived from the initial letter of Yoshinoya's English name, "Y". The rope surrounding the horn represents a in Japanese sumo-wrestling, "Yokozuna" (equivalent to "winner"), representing the quality of the food served in Yoshinoya. The surrounding rope is made up of 27 rice grains. The logo as a whole is meant to suggest that Yoshinoya sells the "best beef bowls".[3]


Yoshinoya first opened in 1899 at the Nihonbashi fish market in Tokyo.[4] When the market was devastated by the Great Kantō earthquake, Yoshinoya moved to the new Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo in 1926.

The chain opened its first 24-hour store in 1952.[citation needed]

On December 27, 1958, the chain's business model was changed from self-employed restaurants to a stock company, as an attempt to gain more profit.[citation needed]

In 1965, the chain earned a million dollars in sales, which led to the idea of expanding the chain's operations in Japan.[citation needed]

The chain's first franchised store was opened in Shinsaibashi, in 1968.[citation needed]

In 1975, the first American store of the fast-food chain was opened in Colorado.[citation needed]

Yoshinoya restaurant at Nagahori, Osaka, Japan, in 2005

In the early 2000s, Yoshinoya, along with other chains such as McDonald's, triggered a price war in Japan by introducing a regular beef bowl dish for 280 yen, or around US$3.[5]


A Yoshinoya meal in Shanghai, China

Yoshinoya has a chain of stores in Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.


In its restaurants in Japan, tables are often counters, and in that case, they take orders over those counters. Chopsticks are provided. The menu includes standard-serving (nami, or namimori, 並盛), large-serving (ōmori, 大盛), or extra-large-serving (tokumori, 特盛)[6] beef bowls, pork bowls (butadon, 豚丼),[7] raw eggs (to stir and pour on top, sometimes mixed with soy sauce), soft-boiled eggs (hanjuku tamago, 半熟玉子), miso soup and pickles (called oshinkō [お新香] in its menu; a kind of asazuke). They also serve red ginger (beni shōga), spice, and Japanese tea (ocha, お茶) free of charge. Some menus including raw eggs and miso soup can be taken out.[8]

Yoshinoya in Kumamoto city

Some customers make special requests at no extra charge such as: extra gravy sauce (tsuyudaku, つゆだく), extra onions (negidaku, ねぎだく), without gravy sauce (tsuyunuki, つゆ抜き), no onions (neginuki, ねぎ抜き),[9] egg-yolk only (kimidake, 黄身だけ) and less rice (karui no, 軽いの; literally "light one").

On June 14, 2011, Yoshinoya in Japan started serving eel bowls (unadon, 鰻丼) as a standard seasonal menu to be offered until the latter part of July.[10]

United States[edit]

Yoshinoya in California

Yoshinoya entered the United States opening a corporate office in Denver in 1973, and then its first retail location in Denver in 1975.[11] (This location later became "Kokoro", a similar restaurant run by Mas Torito who had previous experience at a location in Japan.) Yoshinoya is currently only present in California. A location in Las Vegas, Nevada, went out of business in February 2017.[12] A location in Goodyear, Arizona, opened in 2008, but went out of business in December 2011. A Dallas location that opened in June 2011 was Yoshinoya's first venture into Texas,[13] but it went out of business in December of that year.[citation needed] The first location east of the Mississippi River opened on 42nd Street off Times Square, New York City, in 2002.[14] Two more stores opened in other Manhattan locations, but all the New York City stores went out of business by January 2012.

In March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor dining was temporarily abandoned, with take-away, drive-thru or pick-up service still available.

The main menu in the United States includes the beef bowl, chicken bowl, combo bowl, and shrimp bowl, along with soup and desserts, and has variations such as "beef with vegetables bowls", "teriyaki chicken bowls", and barbecue-style plates. Skinless chicken is available upon request. Tempura bowls are no longer available. The menu of Yoshinoya in the U.S. is similar to that in Japan. At a basic level, both companies serve several recipes over a bowl of rice, which includes the trademark beef bowl with very thinly sliced beef plus light sauce and onions.

Hong Kong[edit]

The Hong Kong division of Yoshinoya was founded in 1991. Currently 57 Yoshinoya food stores are split among three main areas: the Hong Kong branch, the New Territories branch, and the Kowloon branch. Fourteen stores are in the Hong Kong branch, 21 stores are in the New Territories branch, and 22 stores are in the Kowloon branch. Each Yoshinoya food store has five working positions: store manager, supervisor, customer service assistant, crew, and production assistant.[3] Unlike the Yoshinoya in Japan, stores in Hong Kong do not provide table services. Customers order their food at a cashier and collect their food on a tray there, which is the same as in western fast-food stores.


Yoshinoya in Caloocan

In 1992, the first Philippine franchisee of Yoshinoya was established and it operated until 1993.

In 2001, Yoshinoya re-entered the Philippine market through a joint-venture between Yoshinoya and the Century Pacific Group named Yoshinoya Century Pacific Inc. Its first store opened in Metro Point Mall, Pasay on December 15, 2001.

In 2021, following the end of the partnership between Yoshinoya and the Century Pacific Group, Yoshinoya formed a new joint-venture with Jollibee Foods Corporation that would serve as the next franchisee of Yoshinoya in the Philippines.[15] Under the new deal, there are plans to open 50 stores in the country in the long-term.[16]


In 2013, the first Yoshinoya franchise in Cambodia opens on King's Road in Siem Reap with a franchise agreement signed with MEAS DEVELOPMENT CO.,LTD.

There is currently around two Yoshinoya stores in Cambodia as of September 2022, with both of them being located in Phnom Pehn International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport.


In late 2001, a domestic bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) incident critically damaged beef bowl sales. In late 2003, Japan suspended imports of American beef due to a BSE incident in Washington, cutting off Yoshinoya's main source of short plate (fatty beef) that is the main component of its beef bowl. This forced Yoshinoya to terminate beef bowl sales in Japan for the first time in its history on February 11, 2004.

News of the removal of this item from Yoshinoya's menu caused its fans and non-fans alike to queue in massive lines at its restaurants all around Japan to taste what might be their last beef bowl for a long time.[citation needed] Yoshinoya then switched to serving pork bowl (butadon) instead of beef. However, its restaurants in the United States continued to serve the beef bowl using American short plate. From December 2, 2004, restaurants in Japan started serving "beef yakiniku bowls" (牛焼肉丼, gyū-yakiniku-don), which use Australian beef, a different sauce, and additional vegetables.[17] These bowls differed from original "beef bowls", which use American beef.

People lining up on the day of "the beef bowl revival festival" (牛丼復活祭) in 2006, near Teradachō Station, Osaka

In December 2005, Japan agreed to remove the restriction on importing beef from the United States. A letter to customers was then put up in restaurants, promising that the beef bowl would return in a few months. In January 2006, imports stopped again because inspectors found banned cattle parts in a veal shipment from the United States. In June 2006, Japan lifted the ban on imports again, and on July 31, 2006, Yoshinoya reposted the letter promising to resume serving the beef bowl in about two months.[citation needed]

On September 18, 2006, Yoshinoya brought back their beef bowl for one day as "the beef bowl revival festival" (牛丼復活祭, gyūdon fukkatsusai). This "revival", however, meant that its beef bowls would be available only the first five days of the month in October and November. On December 1, 2006, they began serving beef bowls daily, albeit at limited hours. These hours were extended once during special campaigns in February and December 2007. By March 17, 2008, Yoshinoya announced that they would resume 24-hour sales of the beef bowl, rolling out through their then 1040 stores nationwide through March 20, 2008. An announcement of banned cattle products in a Californian beef import on April 21, 2008, did not halt the company's plans, as they felt they had enough stock from other sources to avoid a recall.[citation needed]

In August 2008, 3 Yoshinoya employees in Hong Kong including the store's manager were arrested after gang-raping another employee. Footage of the incident was uploaded to the internet.[18]

In 2019, Yoshinoya outlets in Hong Kong were targeted to be boycotted and vandalized by anti-government protesters during 2019–20 Hong Kong protests. Hop Hing Group, based in Hong Kong, is the licensed franchise of Yoshinoya in the city and Mainland China (Beijing and the cities in Southeast China). Its CEO Marvin Hung was criticized by protesters for attending a rally for Hong Kong police organized by pro-Beijing camps.[19]

Another major reason that caused the boycott of Yoshinoya is an advertisement posted on Facebook in July 2019. The advertisement featured a traditional Japanese food, chikuwa; in Cantonese, the word sounds similar to "dog that tears paper". As this advert was published after police removed messages on a Lennon Wall in Tai Po, the advertisement was then regarded as poking fun at the police. The staff from Social Strategy Hong Kong who helped created the advertisement was sacked afterwards. Hence, protestors thought that Yoshinoya was politically biased and suppressed freedom of speech. Citizens in support of the protests then started boycotting Yoshinoya.[20]

On April 16, 2022, Yoshinoya managing director Masaaki Itō attracted controversy over his statements as a instructor during a Waseda University marketing course. During the first class while covering marketing strategies for young female consumers Itō reportedly described a "drug-addled virgins strategy" stating: "You have these women straight out of the countryside who don't know left or right, while they're naive/virgins you give them a gyudon addiction. Once a man starts paying for their expensive dinners they'll never eat with us again."[21] Students' shocked reactions were uploaded to Facebook and attracted fierce criticism online. One user wrote “Let’s deconstruct this remark - he showed contempt for women, young people, people from rural areas and his own company’s products. In short, he pretty much insulted most of his company’s customers.” [22] The course tuition reportedly cost 36,500 yen over 29 days. On April 18, 2022 Yoshinoya issued a public apology, calling Itō's statements "profoundly inappropriate." A planned advertising campaign was suspended. [23] [24] Itō joined the company in 2018 from P&G.[25]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "吉野家公式ウェブサイト". 吉野家公式ウェブサイト.
  2. ^ "吉野家の歴史に関するご質問." (Japanese) YOSHINOYA CO., LTD. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Hong Kong Yoshinoya official website: "Yoshinoya-HK Website". Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  4. ^ "Tsukiji". Archived from the original on January 6, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  5. ^ Nagata, Kazuaki (2014-04-28). "No sacred cows in Japan's beef bowl war". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  6. ^ "吉野家メニュー: 牛丼・牛皿." (Japanese) YOSHINOYA CO., LTD. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "吉野家メニュー: 豚丼・豚皿." Archived July 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine (Japanese) YOSHINOYA CO., LTD. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "吉野家メニュー: サイドメニュー." (Japanese) Yoshinoya Co. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  9. ^ 吉野家の牛丼、頼み方は72種類 (2008). Retrieve June 19, 2011, from http://www.gamenews.ne.jp/archives/2008/03/72_1.html
  10. ^ "吉野家 夏の定番メニュー 「鰻丼」期間限定発売のお知らせ." (Japanese) (pdf) YOSHINOYA HOLDINGS. June 9, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  11. ^ "History of Overseas Expansion". www.yoshinoya-holdings.com.
  12. ^ "Yoshinoya - CLOSED - University - Las Vegas, NV". Yelp.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Yoshinoya". Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  15. ^ Venzon, Cliff (16 February 2021). "Fast-food giants Jollibee and Yoshinoya team up in Philippines". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  16. ^ Fenol, Jessica (February 16, 2021). "Jollibee partners with Yoshinoya for 'first ever' Japanese food chain venture". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  17. ^ Press release "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (Retrieved on April 10, 2010)
  18. ^ NNA Asia. "吉野家の女性店員暴行、容疑3店員が初公判". NNA Asia (in Japanese). Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  19. ^ Hong Kong protesters trash Starbucks and Yoshinoya
  20. ^ "Yoshinoya steams at ad agency as extradition rows rock workplaces". South China Morning Post. 2019-07-12. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  21. ^ Mainichi Shinbun. "吉野家、取締役の不適切発言で謝罪 「生娘を薬漬けのように牛丼中毒に」". Mainichi Shinbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  22. ^ Reuters (19 April 2022). "Japan beef bowl company sacks director for remark on getting women "hooked"". Reuters. Retrieved 20 April 2022. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  23. ^ Yahoo News. "吉野家、役員の不適切発言謝罪 「生娘を薬漬けのように牛丼中毒に」". Yahoo News (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  24. ^ Nikkei (18 April 2022). "吉野家、取締役の不適切発言で謝罪 「生娘を薬漬けのように牛丼中毒に」". Nikkei (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  25. ^ Tokyo Shinbun. "吉野家、役員の不適切発言謝罪 「生娘を薬漬けのように牛丼中毒に」". Tokyo Shinbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 April 2022.

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