JAPAN, OCTOBER 14th – NOVEMBER 11th 2019 (see list further down for where we ate and links)
Vegans and vegetarians, you won’t starve in Japan. You won’t have to ‘compromise’ and eat fish stock. Let’s stop perpetuating that myth! You just need to do a little homework rather than walking around hoping to find something you can eat. My research in to food options took many, many months and I know not everyone has that time or interest, so I hope I can help you out. I was easily able to have plant based meals at the farmstays simply by arranging it in advance when booking.
On this page you’ll find links to pages showing where and what we ate. Clicking on a title will take you to a more detailed page. As this is a vegan focused blog I will only show vegan/plantbased food.
I did my best, where possible, to confirm that what I was eating was plant based/vegan but I can’t guarantee everything shown on this site is in fact vegan, plus people may change their recipes or ingredients. Be aware that in Japan, not every ingredient (such as those in small amounts) is listed on ingredients panels. There are moves to have this changed at the time of writing.
There’s no one way to ‘do vegan’. Some vegans are happy to order a vegan meal cooked in the same fryer as animal products. And some vegans are aware of their vegan privilege and won’t question a host who has graciously made them a special vegan treat, as to whether the pink colour is cochineal or if it contains sugar processed with bone char or if the nori sheets were grown on nets or mollusc shells. I wasn’t going to ask that of the people who went out of their way to accommodate us with vegan food. Take that as you will, but I will not get in to a debate about it on this blog and argumentative nitpicky comments won’t get published or read in full.
To research food options for myself and my daughter (age eleven in 2019, vegetarian but mostly plant based and with limitations as to what she can eat (no allergies)) I used:
- Happy Cow app and website. I strongly recommend you use Happy Cow.
- Is It Vegan? Japan website and Facebook group
- Vegewel website
- When checking out our hotels or destinations on Google Maps, I’d look at random local restaurants and check out their menus or make contact if something looked vegan
- Following social media accounts of business that are vegan or offer vegan options
- Following social media accounts of vegan/plant based folks living in Japan such as @tokyoveganguide
- Watching lots of YouTube food videos, vegan or otherwise, and noting down the vegan/vegan-looking options
- booking accommodation with quick access to convenience stores, supermarkets or markets
- when in Japan, I used the Google Translate camera function to translate ingredients on the go.
For every place I noted down in my research, I added it to a list in Google Maps specific to food options. I had many dozens of options in the more ‘central’ areas of Tokyo alone and options in areas considered more rural.
Many travellers have used the Just Hungry website’s dining out cards to print out a note in Japanese to give to serving staff. I took the vegan card with me and in some cases, added it as an attachment when emailing places to ask about their menus. Please note that the card doesn’t mention honey.
EATING OUT: RESTAURANTS, OUTLETS AND CAFES
There were so many places we didn’t have a chance to get to, at least a dozen more that were on my list for Tokyo alone. Next time! We also had many DIY meals from convenience stores, mostly pickled plum onigiri, fruit, edamame and red bean daifuku.
Ain Soph Ginza (Ginza)
Chaya Macrobi at Isetan (Shinjuku)
Coco Ichibanya Curry House (Ikebukuro)
Good Town Doughnuts and Coffee (Shibuya)
Loving Hut Japan (Jimbocho area)
nu Dish Deli & Cafe (Ginza)
Omusubi Gonbe Aoyama (Shibuya)
T’s Tan Tan (Tokyo Station)
T’s Tan Tan (Ueno Station)
T’s Tan Tan (Narita Airport)
KAWAGUCHIKO/MOUNT FUJI AREA
Fuji Tempura Idaten (Kawaguchiko station)
Shaw’s Sushi Bar and Dining (Kawaguchiko station)
Asahi Sushi (Ichinoseki)