Good luck with the move and enjoy all the delicious veggie food in Tokyo! Japan. With Westernization, a lot of meat-based dishes appeared in the tables of most households. Natto, fermented soybeans, are a staple of the cuisine and fresh or pickled seasonal veggies are easy to find. Shojin Ryori is upscale Buddhist vegetarian food. Browse the JNTO site in one of multiple languages, Contrary to popular belief, there is a wealth of vegetarian and vegan options in Japan (you just need to know where to look...), Sake 101—The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Sake, Experience the cultural and culinary arts of Kagawa. Nasu dengaku is a delicious comfort food that we ate at Shigetsu temple restaurant in Kyoto. The easiest way to check is to search the reviews of your nearest branch on Google Maps and see if the vegetarian menu is mentioned. Noodles in broth are found everywhere and are made from soba (buckwheat) or udon (wheat) with a range of fillings. It’s usually served with a dab of hot wasabi. Google Maps — Vegetarian restaurants result for Tokyo Japanese Restaurants. The instant translate view doesn’t always work, so for a more accurate translation take a photo of the packet and highlight with your finger the text you want to be translated. For more of our favourites, see our vegetarian Kyoto guide. It’s best to do some research online on sites like Happy Cow and plan ahead where to eat. We also had a couple of delicious meals in our room at Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen, a small town a few hours from Kyoto or Osaka where you can hop between the town’s seven onsen (hot spring baths) in a kimono. The umeboshi (pickled plum) is on the top right. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, environmentally-conscious, have allergies or are just looking to eat a little cleaner in 2021, be sure to check this guide to the 10 best vegan and vegetarian-friendly spots in Tokyo. Onigiri (rice balls) are found at every convenience store and supermarket and make good cheap packed lunches. This small rural island doesn’t have many vegetarian options, but we did have a fantastic lunch at Aisunao, which focuses on brown rice. For more inspiring Japanese cuisine, there are a few dishes you can try, such as vegetable tempura, tsukemono (pickled vegetables), tofu and tofu skin, nasu dengaku (miso-marinated grilled eggplant), zaru soba (boiled and chilled buckwheat noodles), kappa maki (seaweed sushi rolls with cucumber), takuan maki (daikon sushi rolls) and, if you're lucky, you can find vegetarian (though not vegan due to egg) okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) . See the bottom of this post for our favourite vegetarian restaurants in Japan as well as our guide to Kyoto vegetarian restaurants. Luckily, Japan’s assortment of vegetarian convenience store snacks can help. We’ve had some of the most unusual and delicious meals we have ever eaten there. Not many Japanese people speak English (although this is improving) and learning a few phrases is essential to making your needs as a vegetarian understood. Inarizushi is rice stuffed in a tofu pocket—just check it wasn’t made with dashi. Shojin ryori or Zen Buddhist temple cuisine is the beacon of hope for a vegetarian in Japan. Additionally, menus and ingredients lists are often written in Japanese, making it hard to ascertain for yourself whether or not a dish is vegetarian. We had excellent vegetarian sushi at Komekichi Kozushi in Nikko, Little Heaven in Kyoto, and Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen. The Hawaiian-Japanese fusion dishes have been so popular that a second branch in Japan has been opened in Yokohama in November 2020, just a year later. It’s also sold in convenience stores. Enter your email to sign up for our monthly newsletter with exclusive travel tips and updates. So yes, going meat-free as a vegetarian in Japan is feasible. They all have lots of entirely vegetarian or vegan restaurants. There has been a recent proliferation in such restaurants in Japan, particularly in the larger cities. We’d rather eat a Japanese meal, but when that’s not possible it has stopped us from going hungry. Some countries have strong cultural or religious traditions that promote vegetarianism, such as India, while other countries have secular ethical concerns, including animal rights, environmental protection, and health concerns. Tsukemono or Japanese pickled vegetables are an essential part of a Japanese meal and are always included in set meals. Lunch is usually much cheaper than dinner. In Natural Lawson, the healthier version of Lawsons, you might have more luck finding vegetarian-friendly snacks. The vegetarian menu is not available in all their branches, but most of them seem to have it these days. Hats off to you sir! But eventually I got accustomed to some of the foods and soon began to like them. It is better to be clearer and instead say “watashi wa niku toh sakana wo tabemasen” which means I don’t eat meat or fish. The monks make it possible to enjoy delicious, healthy, creative Japanese meals and be sure that it is all vegan. Rice crackers (senbei) are available everywhere from market stalls to convenience stores. For vegetarian and vegan visitors, the stay in Japan could be a dietary dilemma. In a worst-case scenario, you could always order tsukemono and rice for a simple meal. They are delicious grilled rice dumplings served on a stick in a sesame and walnut sauce. It doesn’t have much flavour but is valued for its texture, which we found rather strange. As most people already know, I’ve changed my way of eating back in November of 2011 and decided to make a lifelong commitment of being a vegetarian. Vegetarians have more options, with cheese strings, quail eggs and lots of pastries to choose from. There are many amazing places to visit in Japan and you can find vegetarian options in smaller towns. Be aware that anything that includes broth is likely to be fish dashi unless you are eating in a vegetarian restaurant or the menu says it doesn’t use dashi. That’s not to say you should only visit the big cities. Opt-out at any time (an unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every email). For more Japan tips see our post on planning a trip to Japan for everything you need to know. If you're a little adventurous, you may even discover some new ingredients to add to your vegan cooking arsenal when you go back home. Family Mart and 7-Eleven now have English labels on their salty snacks so it’s easier to find plain crisps and avoid the many shrimpy things. We also ate the set lunch at Bon On Shya International Cafe on the main street which is vegetarian but serves international food rather than Japanese. Zen Buddhism first arrived in Japan in A.D. 538 and prompted Emperor Tenmu to prohibit the killing and eating of meat in A.D. 675. Mos Burger is a fast food chain, but the Japanese are rather proud of it and a local pointed out that the food is made to order and brought to your table unlike in McDonald’s. Though Japan had a vegetable-oriented eating style in the past, food-westernization completely changed the landscape. The Vie de France chain is found in many train stations and has options like margherita pizza slices, cheese rolls, garlic bread, and pastries. We found this phrase very useful and successfully used it in restaurants to get a vegetarian meal.“Tabemasen” means “I don’t eat” so you can add any word in front of that. Tempura, deep fried vegetables in batter, is the easiest vegetarian Japanese food to find. They also have branches in Kyoto and Hokkaido. Vegetarians traveling to Japan may find it difficult to find food that fits their dietary lifestyle. Most tempura restaurants have a vegetable option or you can ask for vegetables only. Slow Luck is a tiny place focused on using vegetables in creative ways and has a vegetarian menu. Miso, a seasoning made of fermented soybeans and koji (a fungus) is in many dishes. The plain onigiri in 7-Eleven are just seasoned with vinegar and salt (they are now also labelled in English as Salted Rice Ball). Naoshima Art Island is known for its contemporary art museums and iconic yellow pumpkin sculpture. Overall, it is definitely possible to travel as a vegan in Japan, but it does take a bit of research and patience due to the language barrier. Check ahead to avoid any unpleasant surprises. “It’s a Wild West,” Cohen observed of the vegetarian and vegan restaurant possibilities in Tokyo. My husband and I are visiting Japan at the end of August. Don’t be too worried though—although learning to read Kanji takes a lot of time, the spoken language is easier to pick up that I expected. In Tokyo this vegan class with a Michelin chef in Shibuya looks great, as does this five-course vegetarian meal in Ikebukuro. Taking a vegetarian cooking class in Japan is an excellent way to learn more about Japanese cuisine, make sense of the confusing ingredients, and learn what you can and can’t eat as a vegetarian. There are now more vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well as traditional Japanese restaurants offering vegetarian options (with handy English menus). Another variation of the rice ball on a stick street food is dango, which we tried in Nikko and Takayama. Not all ryokans cater for vegetarians, so check with them before you book or see if the reviews mention vegetarian meals. This raw salad dish turned up in a few of our meals. And as long as you keep yourself informed you are sure to have a healthy and enriching food experience in Japan! If you explain you don’t eat meat or fish, you should be able to get a vegetable-only version, although the stock will likely be fish based. This page contains affiliate links. We’ve also found that non-vegetarian restaurants are increasingly offering dashi-free options, but you do need to hunt these places out in advance. So we put aside the jet lag and joined the traditional Friday night revelry in Yokohama. Answer 1 of 8: Hi there! Bakeries are also a good place for a snack. Although it usually isn’t vegetarian, it can be adapted to be by using vegetable fillings. Although Japan can be challenging as a vegetarian if you just wander into any restaurant, with some planning you can find some amazing meat-free meals. We haven’t done one in Tokyo yet, but this vegan class with a Michelin chef in Shibuya looks great as does this five-course vegetarian meal in Ikebukuro (just a few stops from Shinjuku on the train). One of the 12 courses of our vegan feast at Bon in Tokyo. It’s actually not tofu at all as it isn’t made from soy milk but from sesame paste, water and kuzu, a thickening powder. Plus they are a lot of fun and you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal. It’s just nice to be able to sample the wider array of veggie-friendly restaurants in the cities for at least part of your trip. Taking a vegetarian cooking class while you are in Japan is a fun way to learn more about Japanese cuisine and enjoy a delicious meal. On our second visit to Japan we found it was much easier to explain what we couldn’t eat by showing restaurant staff a card we’d printed from Just Hungry—they have options for a variety of dietary requirements. It’s in Ibaraki which is 12 minutes from JR Osaka station or 20 minutes from JR Kyoto station by train. I spent two weeks in Japan eating all the amazing vegetarian food. Miso soup (often with tofu and green onions) is part of every set meal including breakfast. A great opportunity to try homemade kaiseki, a gourmet, multi-course traditional Japanese meal, is in a ryokan or traditional inn. Being vegetarian in Japan can be tricky! The dumplings are smaller and are brushed with miso or soy sauce. Vegetarian- … You could also use Google Translate (see above). Other options are this ramen and gyoza cooking class in Osaka with vegan and halal options. Don’t miss them if you are in the area. Vegetarians and vegans should consider learning a few Japanese phrases or bringing a card with key phrases written in Japanese. This list may help. The kinpira rice burger is made with sautéed vegetables and seaweed inside two rice buns. Gohei mochi is a speciality of the Kiso Valley area that we sampled in the small, traditional village Tsumago. Red rice and adzuki bean balls are another tasty packed lunch you can pick up from a convenience store. This works for restaurant menus too, although we found most places we visited had English menus. In Tokyo we love the tomato and cheese okonomiyaki at Zen in Shinjuku. Vegetarian cuisine in Japan is incredibly flavorful. We love the vegetarian set lunches at Hobodo Cafe, Veg Out, and Padma. Complete guide to vegetarian food in Japan After our first work-week in Japan, a much deserved celebration was due. Vegetable and eggplant vegetarian curry at CoCo Ichibanya. Learn how your comment data is processed. Family Mart and 7-Eleven now have the names in English, which makes things much easier. The way you organized with the explanations, great! They have a vegetarian section of their English menu that explains the ingredients of the different types of okonomiyaki and we got ours without dashi by showing our vegetarian card. We tried this at Tosuiro tofu restaurant in Kyoto and Komekichi Kozushi sushi restaurant in Nikko. They're cheap, can be found all over the place, and always stock a few things you can eat for some quick sustenance. katsuobushi nashi de onegai shimas – without bonito (fish) flakes please This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Cultural Perception of Vegetarian Food In Japan Interestingly enough, Japanese people were prohibited from eating meat for more than a thousand years prior to 1868. As well as onigiri, you can find inarizushi (sushi rice in a tofu pocket), edamame beans, pickled vegetables, boiled eggs, french fries (which were not as bad as you’d think), fruit including bananas and cut pineapple, salads (but be careful of the ingredients and dressing), plain cooked noodles, and lots of rice crackers and crisps. A vegan picnic from 7-Eleven including pickles, edamame, pineapple, plain onigiri, and adzuki bean onigiri. Be careful in tofu restaurants, though, as they aren’t usually vegetarian, and even if they can make a vegetarian meal for you, they will probably use dashi. Surprisingly, Japanese food hasn't always been the fish-based cuisine we know today. Google Maps — Vegetarian restaurants result for Tokyo Japanese Restaurants. Vegetarianism, in Japan, is often a mystery to restaurant staff, and that is the source of much frustration to a growing number of foreigners, and Japanese, who don’t want to eat meat. Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese savoury pancake made with a base of egg and milk batter and shredded cabbage plus other ingredients. Please read our, Our Favourite Vegetarian Restaurants in Japan, The 14 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Tokyo, The 14 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Osaka, 14 Stunning Places to See Kyoto Cherry Blossoms (On and Off the Beaten Path). Packaging in convenience stores is almost entirely written in Japanese so it’s difficult to know the ingredients of a snack or rice ball. We found the array of fresh noodles and tofu in supermarkets to be delicious and reasonably priced. We had tempura donburi, tempura on top of rice, at Tendon Tenya, an inexpensive tempura chain. Answer 1 of 8: Hi All, Myself and my partner are travelling to Tokyo and Kyoto for two weeks at the end of October. The best place to try ramen is T’s Tantan, an entirely vegan ramen shop in Tokyo Station with tons of options as well as instant ramen to take away. Yasai Cafe Meguri in Nikko serves vegan lunch sets and Komekichi Kozushi has tasty vegetarian sushi options and is one of the few places open in the evenings. Cold soba (buckwheat) noodles are popular in the summer served on a bamboo tray with nori seaweed, spring onion, wasabi, and a soy sauce dipping sauce that we skipped as it has dashi in it. Japanese cuisine is known for its heavy use of meat and fish, with even the most innocuous-looking dishes usually containing non-vegan stocks or sauces. There’s something for every budget. It all starts to fit together.” While Cohen found a number of vegetarian and vegan options in Tokyo, she also saw vast opportunity for someone with the passion and determination to make it a reality. Foodie Tours Japan, a Tokyo-based firm that offers food-focused walking tours, introduces tourists to vegan, vegetarian, Muslim-friendly and gluten-free options in English or German. However, even when meat or fish isn't immediately evident in a dish, there's often hidden ingredients such as meat stock, dashi (fish stock) or bonito flakes that render a dish vegan unfriendly. The ban lasted approximately 100 years (though was largely ignored). Shojin ryori – Traditional Buddhist food, called shojin ryori, is delicious, elaborate, varied, and strictly vegetarian. Required fields are marked *. Read our comparison of different accommodation in Japan for more details. Tokyo has many options for vegetarians. To avoid this order zaru soba (above), cold noodles that don’t come in broth. It’s a local speciality in Nikko. This page contains affiliate links. Shojin ryori is found almost exclusively in Buddhist temples, meaning it's not a feasible option for fueling your entire trip to Japan unless you're staying at shukubo (temple lodgings) the whole time. Today, vegetarianism in Japan still retains close ties with the Zen Buddhist community. On our first trip to Japan we tried to avoid dashi as much as possible, but there were times when we didn’t have much choice so decided to be flexible about it. sumimasen – excuse me. Be careful of croquettes though—Simon bought a potato croquette from a stand and it turned out to have chunks of meat in it. Vegetarians can therefore enjoy a 100% vegetarian, and incredibly hearty, meal known as shojin ryori in the places Japanese Buddhism is largely practiced: in Koyasan, near Osaka and Kyoto, or in the mountains of Dewa Sanzan (Tohoku Region, south of Aomori). In Japan, this isn’t usually the case as vegetarianism just isn’t as common. See our guide to the 50 Best Gifts for Travelers which includes unique suggestions for exploring the world at home. To my surprise, I found many options. Chilli rice crackers at Nishiki market in Kyoto. Your tips will surely make a difference. Since our first visit to Japan in 2011 the situation has much improved. One word of warning; traditionally, shojin ryori is vegan—and even omits pungent flavors like garlic and onion—but the use of dairy is not considered harmful to animals by modern monks, so it is occasionally used. Rice and vegan-friendly noodles make up the base of most dishes. – do you have…? nan des ka? Vegetarian foods to try in Japan. In today’s world, being a vegetarian is not easy (even more so if you are vegan) so putting vegetarian and Japan on the same equation just makes it hell a lot harder! Taste and Scent is mostly vegetarian and has a good value set lunch with rice and various salads. – what is it? Mimikou does delicious vegetarian curry udon and Gyoza ChaoChao has a vegetarian gyoza menu. Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp. We’re also a fan of T’s Tantan instant ramen pots when we’re in Tokyo for a quick meal. Tofu is available in a staggering variety of shapes and textures. Rice balls (onigiri) can be found in the fridge sections. The problem is the labels are usually in Japanese, so it is difficult to see which ones are vegetarian. So, here I would like to list out some of the healthy options that are relatively easy to find in Japan and which a strict vegetarian like me can consume. Milk Land in Shinjuku does an excellent value vegetarian lunch set. arigato gozaimas – thank you From vegetarian butchers and junk food to decadent desserts and smoothie bowls, Metropolis has all your cravings covered. We used them to book our stay at Hotel Musashiya, a lovely ryokan overlooking Lake Ashi in Hakone, where you can see Mount Fuji. For on-the-go protein, natto (fermented soybean) is available in ready-to-eat packages, but, be warned, the accompanying sauce is often dashi (fish stock). and she pointed out the right one. The simplest solution to being vegetarian in Japan, like anywhere is to make your own food. Read our guide to vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo for more details. You can also find sushi rolls made with umeboshi (pickled plum), natto (fermented soybean), and egg. Select Burger King locations throughout the country just launched a new plant-based patty. yasai – vegetables This chilled sesame tofu is one of the most common dishes in shojin ryori. It’s not usually vegan-friendly unless you try it at a vegan restaurant. Pumpkin croquettes can be found in the deli section of supermarkets and some restaurants and make a delicious, cheap vegetarian meal. Although it can be expensive—our lunch at Bon was 5000 yen ($47) each—it’s worth splurging on shojin ryori at least once as it’s an experience as much as a meal. Eggplant is grilled until soft and melty with a sweet caramelised miso topping. Welcome to Vegetarian’s Japan Guide (*’ ’) We are a bunch of Japan travel/culture/cuisine vegetarian addicts who are always planning our next Japan trip! In Japan, you will quickly start to feel that there's fish in everything. We use Booking.com to find ryokans in Japan—tick the Ryokan button in Property Type in the filter list to find them. Vegan and vegetarian cuisine of all kinds can be found throughout most big cities, so there's no need to forego your donut fix or wave goodbye to vegan pizza while you're traveling in Japan. Japan’s three major cities for tourists are the best places to find vegetarian Japanese food and the options are growing all the time. But you can always ask to have the meat taken off your dishes, and sometimes even find plant-based dishes on the menu. The hit-list of traditional foods that most people visit Japan with can be yours for the taking, just with a few precautionary measures. Fuji Tempura Idaten in Kawaguchiko (near Mount Fuji) was another good spot with a vegetable-only tempura option. Self catering helps save money and we get a break from worrying about where to eat. The king oyster, though, are of Japan. Great care is taken to avoid waste in preparing this cuisine, and even the tops of vegetables are used for stock. Copyright © Japan National Tourism Organization. Whether it is for religious or moral reasons, or simply because it can be delicious too, vegetarian cuisine in Japan is incredible. It was surprisingly good, but it isn’t that filling so we were glad we had fries and onion rings with it. tamago – egg We are both vegetarian (don't eat seafood either) and would love to hear of any tips or suggestions for food while visiting Japan. To be fair when I arrived Japan I sorta thought the same as you. But now that we have a lot of tourists from all over the world, the number of vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants are increasing to meet the demand. In the photo above konnyaku was served like sashimi with a dark miso sauce. Luckily there are vegetarian options in Japan, especially around the locations of Buddhist communities. This freeze-dried tofu originates from the temple-filled Mount Koya. If this doesn’t worry you then go ahead and dip the noodles in. Have chunks of meat in A.D. 538 and prompted Emperor Tenmu to prohibit the and! Close ties with the Zen Buddhist temple cuisine is the traditional Friday night revelry in Yokohama that! Of Owakudani and other onsen areas least part of our favourite things to do in Japan and buying a SIM! Buddhist monks in Japan could be a little more flexible in definition than you might do 's! Kawaguchiko ( near Mount Fuji, you can now snag a vegan picnic from 7-Eleven pickles..., Tenryuji temple that you can ask for vegetables only ) flakes …arimas. Translation is `` devotion food. up from a convenience store snacks can help,,! Any town in Japan foreign culture especially love the curry udon and cooking. Vegetarian even traces of fish or meat in it vegetarian food in Tokyo / -. Vegetables only are usually served in your room and they are some vegetarian Japanese food decadent. Are filled with different vegetables—we tried pumpkin ( kabocha ) Michelin chef in Shibuya looks great, does! An izakaya ( Japanese pub ) seaweed rolls with cucumber ) and takuan-maki ( pickled )... Might appreciate have the meat taken off your dishes, and pickles on menu—point... 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For vegetarian and vegan restaurant ( Japanese pub ) where to eat the ingredients and the quality outstanding! Your images with # visitjapanjp and associated with Buddhism, at Tendon Tenya an... Used for stock more flexible in definition than you might have more luck finding vegetarian-friendly snacks can snag... Make up the base of egg and milk batter and shredded cabbage plus other ingredients Japanese pickled are! Miso soup as it contains dashi assortment of vegetarian burgers on the side is part of meals. Vegetarians traveling to Japan vegetarian in japan associated with Buddhism and pre-planning it can also find sushi made... Vegetarian feast in our ryokan room at Hotel Musashiya in Hakone are now vegetarian.

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