Japan has overtaken France for the number of restaurants with three Michelin stars, according to the latest guide to the nation’s western cities to be released on Friday.

Japan is now home to 29 establishments that hold the highly coveted three-star rating, against 25 in France.

The latest version of the Michelin guide to Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe this year adds the former capital Nara and will be available both in Japanese and English.

Fifteen restaurants get three stars, a distinction that means “exceptional cuisine worth a special journey”.

Seven are based in Kyoto, five in Osaka, two in Kobe and one in Nara, out of 296 starred establishments.

The old imperial capital of Kyoto boasts 29 of the 59 restaurants awarded with two stars in the latest guide, and is home to 70 of the 222 that have earned one-star.

Tokyo remains the world capital of cuisine, boasting 14 three-starred establishments, featured in a previously published guide, compared to ten in Paris.

“Japan is a unique country with many cities full of high level cuisine,” said Bernard Delmas, president of Michelin in Tokyo.

“This is why, though we reach the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the Michelin guide in Japan, we continue to discover new stars to introduce to our readers.”

The total number of three-star restaurants in the world now stands at 101, taking into account the 2012 edition of the New York guide, the statement said.

Guide Michelin Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2012

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