Michelin awarded three stars to 12 restaurants in western Japan, dropping from 15 last year, when the Asian nation amassed a total of 32 top-rated establishments.
Another 51 venues garnered two stars, with 24 in Kyoto, 14 in Osaka, 10 in Kobe and three in Nara, plus one ryokan, or inn, in Kyoto. A total of 210 restaurants and three ryokans gained a single star, Michelin said today in an e-mailed release.
Tsuruya in Kyoto and Hajime in Osaka dropped to two stars. Another three-star last time was Mizai, in Kyoto, which has now closed at its original location.
Last year, Japan was the leader in top-rated establishments. France, home of Michelin, garnered 26. The 2013 volume for Tokyo is scheduled for release in coming weeks. The cycle of guides ends with the French volume in February.
Chef Yoshihiro Murata, who has opened Chrysan restaurant in London, holds onto three stars at Kikunoi Honten, in Kyoto.
Along with traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine, the guide covers soba, kushiage, teppanyaki, sushi, yakitori, izakaya, unagi, tempura, fugu, sukiyaki, oden, obanzai, shojin, yuba, beef specialties and chicken specialties, Michelin said.
Establishments that won a first star include: Hoshinoya inn and restaurants Agiyao, Igarashi, Kyotenjin Noguchi, Motoi, Mutsunoya and Saraku in Kyoto; Chi-Fu, Iroha, Iwaki, Nunoya, Ryoriya Nakajima and Sui in Osaka; Agura and Shiko in Kobe.
The Tokyo guide was first published in 2008 and western Japan was added two years later. Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013 (Japanese version) goes on sale in Japan on Oct. 19.
Michelin & Cie (ML), the world’s second-biggest tiremaker, produced its first guide in 1900. It was distributed free of charge until 1920 and intended for chauffeurs. The volume contained practical information, including street maps and tips on repairing tires. The company is based in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
The three-star winners: Kyoto: Chihana (Japanese) Hyo-tei (Japanese) Kikunoi Honten (Japanese) Kitcho Arashiyama Honten (Japanese) Nakamura (Japanese) Osaka: Fujiya 1935 (Fusion) Kashiwaya (Japanese) Koryu (Japanese) Taian (Japanese) Kobe: Ca Sento (Fusion) Komago (Japanese) Nara: Wa Yamamura (Japanese)
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.