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. :) The best places to stay in apartments are the bigger cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka where there are plenty of options. Fuji Tempura Idaten has a vegetable tempura set (skip the miso soup) and Peace Kawaguchiko has a vegetarian hot pot and a few noodle soups. 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. From vegetarian butchers and junk food to decadent desserts and smoothie bowls, Metropolis has all your cravings covered. It’s in Ibaraki which is 12 minutes from JR Osaka station or 20 minutes from JR Kyoto station by train. Vegetable and eggplant vegetarian curry at CoCo Ichibanya. This raw salad dish turned up in a few of our meals. 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. Add some vegetables and you can make an easy stir-fry. Rice crackers (senbei) are available everywhere from market stalls to convenience stores. For an entirely vegan curry head to Coco Ichibanya, Japan’s largest curry chain, and look for the separate green vegetarian menu with a range of different curries. 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! Consider taking your own soy sauce around with you for a splash of fish-free flavor when only the basics are available. It’s best to do some research online on sites like Happy Cow and plan ahead where to eat. 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! Learn how your comment data is processed. See our recommended restaurants in each of these cities below. Love of seafood is deeply engrained in Japanese culture. Miso, a seasoning made of fermented soybeans and koji (a fungus) is in many dishes. Vegetarian version of local speciality hoba miso at Sukuya in Takayama. In Osaka, Okonomiyaki Chitose can do a vegetarian version (including one with noodles) if you ask. We picked up this crunchy, chilli-covered rice cracker at the Nishiki market in Kyoto. Vegetarian sushi is not easy to find in Japan, but it is possible. Opt-out at any time (an unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every email). Fish seems to be in everything including the soup stock used to make miso soup. The hit-list of traditional foods that most people visit Japan with can be yours for the taking, just with a few precautionary measures. tamago – egg In Koya-san you can get shojin ryori meals for dinner and breakfast by spending the night at a temple. We had excellent vegetarian sushi at Komekichi Kozushi in Nikko, Little Heaven in Kyoto, and Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen. Firm tofu served on sticks dengaku style. It's roughly the 96 most common vegetable dishes in Japan. The plain onigiri in 7-Eleven are just seasoned with vinegar and salt (they are now also labelled in English as Salted Rice Ball). 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. 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. By clicking the link in the confirmation email, you consent to being sent newsletters and special offers. If this doesn’t worry you then go ahead and dip the noodles in. 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. Rice I don’t think any of the burgers are vegan but apparently you can ask them to print out a list of ingredients to check. 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. Tempura, deep fried vegetables in batter, is the easiest vegetarian Japanese food to find. Sukuya is a good place to try a vegetarian version of the local speciality hoba miso—vegetables and tofu cooked with miso paste on a magnolia leaf. Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? Heinraku is a wonderful small restaurant in Takayama run by the friendliest lady and has pages of vegetarian options on the menu—I loved the Hida miso ramen. The best way to find local veggie gems is to search Google Maps, which should offer a few results for vegan ramen, vegan sushi and, of course, Western vegan options. Japanese vegetarian dishes. Taste and Scent is mostly vegetarian and has a good value set lunch with rice and various salads. Additionally, menus and ingredients lists are often written in Japanese, making it hard to ascertain for yourself whether or not a dish is vegetarian. In Japan, this isn’t usually the case as vegetarianism just isn’t as common. Naigamo yam is rather unusual and wasn’t like the dense, heavy yam that we are familiar with but instead was light, crunchy, sticky, and watery. 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. The food is a highlight of Tokyo for us and the quality is outstanding from high-end restaurants to simple ramen shops. Zen is a vegetarian-friendly okonomiyaki place. Rice and vegan-friendly noodles make up the base of most dishes. Naoshima Art Island is known for its contemporary art museums and iconic yellow pumpkin sculpture. 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. 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). I highly recommend taking an unlocked phone to Japan and buying a data SIM card when you arrive. Eggplant is grilled until soft and melty with a sweet caramelised miso topping. There has been a recent proliferation in such restaurants in Japan, particularly in the larger cities. Meat dishes are very popular and fish broth is widely used in Japanese cuisine. Our vegetarian feast at Hotel Musashiya in Hakone. 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. In nearby Okayama City there are a few options for vegetarians especially Yasai-Shokudo Koyama, which is a restaurant that focuses on vegetables and can make a vegan set meal. Since chicken, fish, and stock may be considered "bejitarian," you may want to find a way to explain your diet that's more all-encompassing. You won’t find many vegetarian restaurants in Japan, except Tokyo, maybe. It’s different from the Indian version but still tasty. Differences include food standards, laws, and general cultural attitudes of vegetarian diets. Ours wasn’t a planned night out – But dinner was on the agenda. We tried many of these tofu dishes in shojin ryori restaurants. But Japanese food is so delicious that we always want to eat as much of the national cuisine as possible. Read our guide to vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo for more details. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants are a safe-zone where you don’t have to worry about animal products surprising you in your meal, or asking for modifications. They all have lots of entirely vegetarian or vegan restaurants. 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. Japan’s diet is largely based off of fish and seafood products, so being a vegetarian/vegan in Japan can be difficult sometimes. Vegetarian in Japan!?! We’ve had some of the most unusual and delicious meals we have ever eaten there. I update this guide regularly (originally published in January 2012) based on our experiences on multiple return trips. Most tempura restaurants have a vegetable option or you can ask for vegetables only. With locally sourced produce you’ll be able to get your normal vegs and a wide range of typical Japanese vegetables , giving you a chance to get a bit more creative with your cooking and try some traditional Japanese … Make sure you specify no dashi. The cuisine is 100% vegetarian, and often vegan. Though Japan had a vegetable-oriented eating style in the past, food-westernization completely changed the landscape. It’s easy to be vegetarian in Kyoto. Konnyaku is known in English as Devil’s Tongue. I have also asked a nearby stranger in pigeon Japanese “Dore umeboshi des ka?” (which one is pickled plum?) The king oyster, though, are of Japan. It’s a cheap and tasty meal and you can customise your level of spice and ingredients. Packaged beans, edamame, simple garden salads and inarizushi (rice in a tofu pocket) are all options that can help you make a filling meal when other options aren't available. They also have branches in Kyoto and Hokkaido. Noodles in broth are found everywhere and are made from soba (buckwheat) or udon (wheat) with a range of fillings. It’s a … We loved this Kyoto cooking class with Uzuki. For more of our favourites, see our vegetarian Kyoto guide. We bought one from the Umobile vending machine at Tokyo Narita airport. Cakes with Faces 67,224 views. We’d rather eat a Japanese meal, but when that’s not possible it has stopped us from going hungry. This page contains affiliate links. 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 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. It is believed to bring balance to mind, body, and spirit. 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. Keep in mind that these foods are available in Japan as vegetarian dishes but individual restaurants may add fish flavoring and other non-vegetarian ingredients because there is little awareness of purely vegetarian diets. Luckily, Japan’s assortment of vegetarian convenience store snacks can help. You can now snag a vegan Whopper in Japan. The word "bejitarian" (vegetarian) is widely understood but can be a little more flexible in definition than you might appreciate. Chilli rice crackers at Nishiki market in Kyoto. Somen noodle and vegetable tempura at Bon in Tokyo. There’s something for every budget. They also sell themselves on being healthy and have a number of vegetarian burgers on the menu—point to the picture menu to order. 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. Whilst Japan is slowly becoming more accustomed and open to vegetarian options it still displays a certain ignorance towards and lack of knowledge of the concept: surprising when you think that vegetarian favourite, tofu, was first made popular here. Japan is a vegetarian paradise wrapped in a vegetarian hell. Google Translate is also a helpful tool for reading menus. 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. Vegetarian- … The monks make it possible to enjoy delicious, healthy, creative Japanese meals and be sure that it is all vegan. Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp. Yuba is made from the thin skin that forms on the surface of boiled soy milk—it sounds weird but it’s delicious, creamy, and light. My husband and I are visiting Japan at the end of August. 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. Vegetarian set lunches are a great way to explore Japanese food as you don’t have to worry about being able to read a Japanese menu and you can be sure that everything is meat-free. “It’s a Wild West,” Cohen observed of the vegetarian and vegan restaurant possibilities in Tokyo. However, with a little planning, it's possible to navigate Japan and even sample vegetarian or vegan Japanese food, without compromising your diet. 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. Answer 1 of 8: Hi there! The Vie de France chain is found in many train stations and has options like margherita pizza slices, cheese rolls, garlic bread, and pastries. Required fields are marked *. Vegetarianism and veganism is not as popular in Japan as it is in the West, so you'll find there's often some confusion as to what you can and can't eat. 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. Plain and umeboshi (pickled plum) are the most common vegetarian onigiri. Tips, advice & vlogs from restaurants with veggie options in Tokyo and the rest of Japan. Curry is really popular in Japan. But that does not mean Japan’s old tradition was dying out. Red rice and adzuki bean balls are another tasty packed lunch you can pick up from a convenience store. Being vegetarian in Japan can be tricky! Although you could use the recommended phrase or vegetarian card above and turn up in any Japanese restaurant and hope you get a meal, we found it much more enjoyable to eat stress (and dashi) free at vegetarian restaurants or Japanese places with vegetarian menus. 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. We love the vegetarian set lunches at Hobodo Cafe, Veg Out, and Padma. The monks make it possible to enjoy delicious, healthy, creative Japanese meals and be sure that it is all vegan. The packaging is clear so it’s easy to identify without reading Japanese. We heated ours up at home and served with a salad. Mos Burger now also offers soy patty burgers but these aren’t vegetarian. Pumpkin croquettes can be found in the deli section of supermarkets and some restaurants and make a delicious, cheap vegetarian meal. – what is it? This small rural island doesn’t have many vegetarian options, but we did have a fantastic lunch at Aisunao, which focuses on brown rice. Being connected will make it easier to find vegetarian restaurants using Google Maps and Happy Cow and it also allows you to use Google Translate. What do I need to know about being vegetarian in Japan? Its cuisine, shojin ryori, is an important part of monks' devotion to a life of abstention from violence against living beings. Onigiri at Family Mart in Japan. Another option vegetarians in Japan should try are kurotomago, eggs boiled in hot springs which become black because of the water's sulfur. Umeboshi pickled plum onigiri rice balls and natto. Most supermarkets have extensive fruit and vegetable sections like most places in the world. 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) . The Shibuya branch is a take away and standing online spot whereas you can enjoy take-out or eat-in options at the Yokohama branch, which specializes in a wide range of vegan curries. Happy Cow is an indispensable resource for finding vegetarian and vegan restaurants. See our post about Lake Kawaguchiko for more details (including the best places to see Mount Fuji). We used Google Translate’s image feature to translate ingredient lists on packaging just by pointing our phone’s camera lens at it and pressing the camera icon in the app. Wheat buns are filled with different vegetables—we tried pumpkin (kabocha). They aren’t as common as the other stores though. We had a fantastic fucha ryori meal, which is a version of shojin ryori with a focus on tea, at Bon in Tokyo. These multi-dish meals are beautifully presented and use seasonal ingredients. We used the vegetarian card that said we couldn’t eat meat, fish or dashi (fish stock) and it saved us from dashi a number of times (this was always the hardest thing to explain verbally). Since our first visit to Japan in 2011 the situation has much improved. There are even restaurants that only serve tofu in different forms for multi-course meals. In theory, Japanese food has the potential to be delicious and wholesome for both vegans and vegetarians. The food was Italian-inspired and utterly delicious including a pesto, potato and mascarpone pizza and grilled vegetables with an incredible pesto dip. The ban lasted approximately 100 years (though was largely ignored). Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. A vegan picnic from 7-Eleven including pickles, edamame, pineapple, plain onigiri, and adzuki bean onigiri. I love the crunchy texture and salty, sweet and sour flavour that provides a contrast to the more delicately flavoured dishes. ! These multi-dish meals are beautifully presented and use seasonal ingredients. If you are heading to Kawaguchiko to see Mount Fuji, you can find a few vegetarian options. Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Japan. They also stock the vegan T’s Tantan instant ramen. Packaging in convenience stores is almost entirely written in Japanese so it’s difficult to know the ingredients of a snack or rice ball. Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese savoury pancake made with a base of egg and milk batter and shredded cabbage plus other ingredients. – do you have…? The best places to eat shojin ryori are in temples in Kyoto such as Shigetsu in Tenryuji and in the mountain town Koya-san where you can even spend the night in a temple. By clicking the Submit button, you give consent for us to store your information for the purposes of displaying your comment and you accept the terms of our Privacy Policy. An increasing number of ramen shops in Japan now offer vegan ramen, so you can enjoy this classic noodle soup without meat. 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. Shojin ryori – Traditional Buddhist food, called shojin ryori, is delicious, elaborate, varied, and strictly vegetarian. This freeze-dried tofu originates from the temple-filled Mount Koya. The elegant and artfully prepared cuisine, served on beautiful plates and dishes of Kamakura lacquerware, tends to be made up of soybean-based foods, such as tofu, along with seasonal vegetables. Most of the restaurant food in Japanese restaurants is also made to order, which makes it … 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. Tofu is available in a staggering variety of shapes and textures. 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. The vegetarian menu is not available in all their branches, but most of them seem to have it these days. 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. Look out for kappa-maki (seaweed rolls with cucumber) and takuan-maki (pickled daikon radish roll). Although there are still few restaurants compared to a lot of major cities, Japan also has a vegetarian tradition, Shojin Ryori (Monk cuisine), and there also many cuisines serving vegetarian dishes! Now we have Google Translate—so much easier. Shojin Ryori lunch at Shigetsu, Tenryuji Temple, Kyoto. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. 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. Surprisingly, Japanese food hasn't always been the fish-based cuisine we know today. 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