The number of Japanese restaurants outside Japan increased more than threefold over the past decade to around 187,000 in 2023 as the country's eatery chains expanded worldwide, a recent survey by the farm ministry showed.

The number increased around 20 percent from the previous survey in 2021, with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries attributing some of the growth to increased interest from anime fans in Central and South America.

By region, Asia and Europe both saw gains of around 20 percent from 2021 to 122,000 and 16,400, respectively, driving expectations for growth in Japan's agriculture and seafood exports as its food culture continues to spread.

Supplied photo shows a Tendon Tenya outlet in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Royal Holdings Co.)(Kyodo)

By country, China had the most Japanese restaurants at 78,760, followed by the United States at 26,040 and South Korea at 18,210.

Major players in the Japanese food service industry have taken advantage of opportunities to expand abroad, with Royal Holdings Co. now operating a total of over 30 Tendon Tenya outlets in four Asian countries as well as Hong Kong after opening its first store in Thailand in 2013.

The chain features the popular tempura dish that is known for its light batter and sweet and savory sauce. In Thailand, the chain offers dishes fused with local flavors and ingredients such as holy basil sauce and catfish to cater to local taste buds.

Eateries located in dining areas of department stores are thriving, with many people also using the opportunity to learn about Japanese-style store operations by taking jobs in such restaurants, according to a company official.

While the number of Japanese restaurants in North America decreased around 10 percent to 28,600 in 2023 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, those in Central and South America almost doubled from 2021 levels to 12,900.

Demand for Japanese cuisine in the region has been fueled by the popularity of anime like "One Piece" and "Demon Slayer," while a change in survey method also helped uncover more establishments, according to the ministry.