They all have lots of entirely vegetarian or vegan restaurants. While known as Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, the literal translation is "devotion food." There is plenty of tofu in Japan and it is much higher quality than anywhere else in the world. The problem is the labels are usually in Japanese, so it is difficult to see which ones are vegetarian. They also stock the vegan T’s Tantan instant ramen. Another option vegetarians in Japan should try are kurotomago, eggs boiled in hot springs which become black because of the water's sulfur. Japan’s three major cities for tourists are the best places to find vegetarian Japanese food and the options are growing all the time. The kinpira rice burger is made with sautéed vegetables and seaweed inside two rice buns. Meat dishes are very popular and fish broth is widely used in Japanese cuisine. Communication and understanding barriers can further add to frustrations; the concept of vegetarian or vegan diets isn't well-understood, and English isn't widely spoken, so simply requesting vegetarian cuisine may not be effective. 8:25. The delicious food is one of the reasons we keep returning to the country. 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. We love the vegetarian set lunches at Hobodo Cafe, Veg Out, and Padma. This list may help. We also had a break from Japanese at the excellent Pizzeria Onda. You can also eat non-fish products like omelettes or noodles whenever your friends are abducting you to the local sushi restaurant, or even eat only vegetables at the grilled meat restaurant. 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. Onigiri at Family Mart in Japan. A tofu and vegetable hotpot that is simmered at your table. Onigiri (rice balls) are found at every convenience store and supermarket and make good cheap packed lunches. They usually include various types of tofu, an array of vegetables, rice, pickles, miso soup, and more unusual items such as the jelly-like konnyaku (made from the konjac plant). In fact, it was only when beef prices started to drop in the early 1990s did the consumption of meat in the country spike. Please read our disclosure for more info. Whether it is for religious or moral reasons, or simply because it can be delicious too, vegetarian cuisine in Japan is incredible. 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. Add some vegetables and you can make an easy stir-fry. nan des ka? Japan (2496 listings) Vegan Vegetarian Veg-Options Chains Filters 0. 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. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. Fried tofu topped with grated daikon radish. 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. It is believed to bring balance to mind, body, and spirit. Another option vegetarians in Japan should try are kurotomago, eggs boiled in hot springs which become black because of the water's sulfur. 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. Many Japanese curry places will offer a vegetable curry, but it’s likely the roux was made with meat. Inarizushi is rice stuffed in a tofu pocket—just check it wasn’t made with dashi. I have also asked a nearby stranger in pigeon Japanese “Dore umeboshi des ka?” (which one is pickled plum?) Convenience stores in Japan are amazing and perfect for stocking up on snacks for a picnic or train trip (sadly bento boxes in train stations are not going to be vegetarian). My husband and I are visiting Japan at the end of August. In Japan, you will quickly start to feel that there's fish in everything. For more of our favourites, see our vegetarian Kyoto guide. My husband and I are visiting Japan at the end of August. 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. 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. Pickled vegetable (carrot) sushi at Komekichi Kozushi in Nikko. The Japanese diet is generally very healthy, but it also mainly centres around fish and meat. For a more upmarket but still reasonably priced tempura meal, we enjoyed Tsunahachi in Shinjuku, Tokyo where we had a vegetable only version of their lunch set. We’d rather eat a Japanese meal, but when that’s not possible it has stopped us from going hungry. You acknowledge that your email will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Being vegetarian in Japan can be tricky! Luckily there are vegetarian options in Japan, especially around the locations of Buddhist communities. Our restaurant guides to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka list more options (see below). In Osaka, Okonomiyaki Chitose can do a vegetarian version (including one with noodles) if you ask. It's roughly the 96 most common vegetable dishes in Japan. Konbinis (convenience stores) are a surprising goldmine of veggie snacks, perfect for when you're in a bind. Zen is a vegetarian-friendly okonomiyaki place. We had excellent vegetarian sushi at Komekichi Kozushi in Nikko, Little Heaven in Kyoto, and Morizuya Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. 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. Read our guide to vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo for more details. When you're outside of major cities, consider staying in a ryokan where they will be able to create spectacular feasts of vegetarian Japanese food if you contact them ahead of time with details of your dietary needs. 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. Soups, noodles in broth, and dipping sauces in non-vegetarian restaurants will likely contain dashi, and you’ll need to decide whether this bothers you or not. Oyaki is a speciality of the Nagano prefecture and we tried it in Matsumoto. Our vegetarian feast at Hotel Musashiya in Hakone. Fuji Tempura Idaten in Kawaguchiko (near Mount Fuji) was another good spot with a vegetable-only tempura option. Most of the restaurant food in Japanese restaurants is also made to order, which makes it … Helen Marvell shares her thoughts, some tips and gives a little bit of inspiration. But seeing as Japan’s vegetarian movement is still quite young, those who ascribe to it can sometimes feel like they have to put their beliefs on hold to please their loved ones. A great opportunity to try homemade kaiseki, a gourmet, multi-course traditional Japanese meal, is in a ryokan or traditional inn. We found the array of fresh noodles and tofu in supermarkets to be delicious and reasonably priced. We had a fantastic fucha ryori meal, which is a version of shojin ryori with a focus on tea, at Bon in Tokyo. 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. Amazing work! We picked up this crunchy, chilli-covered rice cracker at the Nishiki market in Kyoto. The vegetarian menu is not available in all their branches, but most of them seem to have it these days. Google Maps — Vegetarian restaurants result for Tokyo Japanese Restaurants. Shojin Ryori is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan, which is made without meat, fish and other animal products. Slow Luck is a tiny place focused on using vegetables in creative ways and has a vegetarian menu. Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Japan. You can also find sushi rolls made with umeboshi (pickled plum), natto (fermented soybean), and egg. Osaka is very vegetarian-friendly if you plan in advance. 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. 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. 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. I love the crunchy texture and salty, sweet and sour flavour that provides a contrast to the more delicately flavoured dishes. The dumplings are smaller and are brushed with miso or soy sauce. 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. 7-Eleven, Lawsons, and Family Mart are the most common convenience stores and you’ll find one on every block in cities. 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. arigato gozaimas – thank you We’ve had some of the most unusual and delicious meals we have ever eaten there. Eggplant is grilled until soft and melty with a sweet caramelised miso topping. 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) . It certainly has a different texture from the tofu we are used to as it’s soft, creamy, and melts in your mouth. Umeboshi packaging is usually pink and plain ones are clear. 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. 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. 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 hit-list of traditional foods that most people visit Japan with can be yours for the taking, just with a few precautionary measures. It’s a … We especially love the healthy and affordable set lunches that most of these places offer featuring rice, miso soup, pickles, and an array of tofu and vegetable dishes. 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. This page contains affiliate links. The best way is to eat at a vegetarian restaurant—this is easiest in Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka where there are lots of options. We were tempted by the tubs of spicy cucumber at 7-Eleven, but unfortunately they contain fish sauce. There are now more vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well as traditional Japanese restaurants offering vegetarian options (with handy English menus). yasai – vegetables See our recommended restaurants in each of these cities below. Japanese vegetarian dishes. Some of the various vegetarian- and vegan-friendly treats on offer in Japan. We used them to book our stay at Hotel Musashiya, a lovely ryokan overlooking Lake Ashi in Hakone, where you can see Mount Fuji. Answer 1 of 8: Hi there! Udon restaurants may also have a cold broth-free version. See our vegetarian Osaka guide for more delicious options. Required fields are marked *. Do Japanese people really know anything about animal free diets and would they be able to try it too? 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. For vegetarian and vegan visitors, the stay in Japan could be a dietary dilemma. Simon wearing a yukata and enjoying our vegetarian feast in our ryokan room at Hotel Musashiya in Hakone. Opt-out at any time (an unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every email). 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. Though Japan had a vegetable-oriented eating style in the past, food-westernization completely changed the landscape. We tried this at Tosuiro tofu restaurant in Kyoto and Komekichi Kozushi sushi restaurant in Nikko. 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. Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp. https://www.happycow.net. It is reconstituted in water and becomes springy and sponge-like, absorbing the flavours it is cooked in. My question is, what's it going to be like for a non fish eating vegetarian… 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. :) Vegetable and eggplant vegetarian curry at CoCo Ichibanya. Today, vegetarianism in Japan still retains close ties with the Zen Buddhist community. I update this guide regularly (originally published in January 2012) based on our experiences on multiple return trips. Your email address will not be published. In Japan, this isn’t usually the case as vegetarianism just isn’t as common. On more recent trips we’ve found it easier to avoid dashi. Most guides to vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo focus on westernised places serving veggie burgers, salads, and smoothies. Tofu is available in a staggering variety of shapes and textures. oishikatta des – that was delicious. In all honesty, Japan can be a tough country to be a vegetarian in, but in comparison to a decade ago the number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants and even the options at convenience stores have increased and improved significantly. We are both vegetarian (don't eat seafood either) and would love to hear of any tips or suggestions for food while visiting Japan. This freeze-dried tofu originates from the temple-filled Mount Koya. The monks make it possible to enjoy delicious, healthy, creative Japanese meals and be sure that it is all vegan. The plain onigiri in 7-Eleven are just seasoned with vinegar and salt (they are now also labelled in English as Salted Rice Ball). Japan. We tried many of these tofu dishes in shojin ryori restaurants. Our favourite vegetarian restaurant is Bon, which serves exquisite multi-course fucha ryori in beautiful tatami rooms. 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. Happy Cow is an indispensable resource for finding vegetarian and vegan restaurants. We ate yaki onigiri at an izakaya (Japanese pub). Being Vegetarian in Tokyo / Japan - Duration: 8:25. Their tasty lunch set is vegan and the miso soup is made without dashi (the noodle soups are not). katsuobushi nashi de onegai shimas – without bonito (fish) flakes please 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. 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. They're readily available in the hot spring town of Owakudani and other onsen areas. It’s a cheap and tasty meal and you can customise your level of spice and ingredients. What do I need to know about being vegetarian in Japan? We bought one from the Umobile vending machine at Tokyo Narita airport. The way you organized with the explanations, great! 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. However, if you get the chance to try shojin ryori, it makes a light, healthy and beautifully photogenic meal, which is a fun cultural experience for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Plain and umeboshi (pickled plum) are the most common vegetarian onigiri. The vegan movement in Japan is growing strong, especially in Tokyo and Kyoto, and you should have no problem finding vegan food there. Answer 1 of 8: Hi there! You can find a few vegetarian plates at almost any restaurant, but the choices tend to be quite limited. It’s a jelly-like substance made from the root of the tuberous plant konjac. 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. 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. 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). Ramen chains that have vegan ramen are Chabuton, Kyushu Jangara Ramen, and Afuri. The word "bejitarian" (vegetarian) is widely understood but can be a little more flexible in definition than you might appreciate. So we put aside the jet lag and joined the traditional Friday night revelry in Yokohama. Umeboshi pickled plum onigiri rice balls and natto. Complete guide to vegetarian food in Japan After our first work-week in Japan, a much deserved celebration was due. sumimasen – excuse me. This page contains affiliate links. Some are particularly proud of their vegetarian cuisine, so search online to see which ones specialize. I hope this post helps you enjoy it as much as we do. – do you have…? 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. Search on Airbnb here. 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. The cuisine is 100% vegetarian, and often vegan. In the photo above konnyaku was served like sashimi with a dark miso sauce. Kyoto is especially worth visiting, as Japan’s ancient capital has a long tradition of shojin ryori or Zen Buddhist temple cuisine, which is entirely vegan. Although being a vegetarian in Japan is a daily challenge, it’s nothing that you can’t do! Indian restaurants serving vegetarian meals as well are regularly found in any town in Japan. Firm tofu served on sticks dengaku style. Luckily, Japan’s assortment of vegetarian convenience store snacks can help. They're readily available in the hot spring town of Owakudani and other onsen areas. But eventually I got accustomed to some of the foods and soon began to like them. tamago – egg It’s best to do some research online on sites like Happy Cow and plan ahead where to eat. …arimas ka? Japan has a culinary diverse culture, ranging from regional delicacies to dishes influenced by foreign culture. 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). The best places to stay in apartments are the bigger cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka where there are plenty of options. You can now snag a vegan Whopper in Japan. It’s not just limited to temples, though, as we saw shojin ryori offered in traditional restaurants in many places around Japan including Nikko, Takayama, and Kanazawa. To my surprise, I found many options. You could try telling people that you are vegetarian (“Watashi wa bejitarian des”) but they probably won’t understand exactly what this means. In Kyoto there are a couple of udon restaurants that make vegan udon—we especially love the curry udon at Mimikou. If this doesn’t worry you then go ahead and dip the noodles in. See our guide to the 50 Best Gifts for Travelers which includes unique suggestions for exploring the world at home. Enter your email to sign up for our monthly newsletter with exclusive travel tips and updates. They also have branches in Kyoto and Hokkaido. We skipped the included miso soup as it contains dashi. It’s usually served with a dab of hot wasabi. Make sure you specify no dashi. ! They are happy to cater to vegetarians and served us an incredible meal in our tatami room. 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. There have been quite a lot of Q&A about being vegetarian in Kyoto, so you might browse past posts. And it doesn’t mean eating only at vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Japan either – you are just as entitled to a tendon (tempura-topped bowl of rice), things on sticks grilled over charcoal, and a steaming bowl of ramen as the omnivore next to you.. 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. They aren’t as common as the other stores though. Great care is taken to avoid waste in preparing this cuisine, and even the tops of vegetables are used for stock. Simon with his mitarashi (soy sauce) dango in Takayama. Milk Land in Shinjuku does an excellent value vegetarian lunch set. 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. Its cuisine, shojin ryori, is an important part of monks' devotion to a life of abstention from violence against living beings. The Survival of a … Rice 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. Historically, fish was key to survival. Vegetarian cuisine in Japan is incredibly flavorful. Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese savoury pancake made with a base of egg and milk batter and shredded cabbage plus other ingredients. Be careful of croquettes though—Simon bought a potato croquette from a stand and it turned out to have chunks of meat in it. Sorano is a good tofu restaurant in Tokyo with vegetarian options marked on the menu and Tosuiro Gion in Kyoto can do a vegan set if you order in advance. Another variation of the rice ball on a stick street food is dango, which we tried in Nikko and Takayama. 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