VEGAN GUIDE TO EATING YOUR WAY AROUND JAPAN

Use HappyCow to find vegan and vegan-friendly establishments
There are a number of vegan friendly restaurants in Japan that can be located via the Happy Cow app, which I highly recommend downloading prior to your trip. Below is a list of a few of my favourite vegan friendly places to eat while visiting Japan

Ain Soph Ripple (Tokyo)
Located in Shinjuku and Hiroo. Offering a delicious selection of vegan fast food including katsu, cheese, black bean, and falafel burgers, nachos, burrito bowls, loaded fries, mac and cheese, salad, cookies, waffles, tiramisu (I highly recommend the matcha flavour), and Japanese pudding

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T’s Tan Tan (Tokyo/Narita)
Located on Keiyo Street in the Tokyo Station building and Narita Airport terminal 2. The mains served include ramen, tan tan (I highly recommend the golden sesame flavour), curry, tempura udon, katsu sandwich, cod roe pasta, bibimbap, and other Chinese-style dishes. You are able to order these mains as a set with fried soy meat, mini beef bowl, mini curry, vegetable gyoza, or spring rolls. The restaurant also has packaged vegan stock powder, curry sachets, and dehydrated soy meat available for purchase

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Chaya Macrobiotics (Tokyo)
Located in Hibiya. No longer entirely vegan but still offers a selection of vegan friendly dishes including soy cream truffle pasta, tempeh burgers, curry, and amazing desserts. There are also a range of take-away products available for purchase including soy cream pasta sauce, curries, stews, wraps, salads, and cookies

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Vegan’s Cafe and Restaurant (Kyoto)
Located in Kyoto. Vegan’s Café has some of the best food I have ever eaten, and I definitely recommend visiting if you have the chance. The menu includes soy-milk ramen, yaki-niku, pizza, pita sandwiches, soy milk soft cream, cakes, and parfait

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Paprika Shokudo Vegan (Osaka)
Located in Osaka. Offering fried soy meat dishes, pizza, savoury and dessert platters, soy-milk ice-cream, and parfait, this was my favourite place to eat in Osaka and definitely worth visiting if you’re there!

Art Cafe ELK (Hiroshima)
Located in Hiroshima. Offering traditional Japanese foods such as the Hiroshima specialty yakisoba, a Japanese style vegan plate featuring tempura vegetables, onigiri, and edamame, a tofu salad, and much more

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Ain Soph Journey (Tokyo)
Located in Shinjuku. Offering a range of salads and soups, curry set with rice, fried soy meat, pancakes, salad wraps, and a vegan omelette. More expensive/ fine dining than the other Ain Soph’s but still worth visiting!

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Trueberry (Tokyo)
Located in Omotesando and Meguro. A tiny store offering a range of juices, smoothies, parfaits, soup, and breakfast bowls. I recommend the spirulina and matcha flavoured parfaits

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Brown Rice Café (Tokyo)
Located in Omotesando. Offering seasonal curry and bento-style meals, served as a set with pickled vegetables and salad

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 9.45.22 pm.pngFluunt (Kofu)
Located in Kofu. Small café offering a range of vegan burgers and salads, as well as pound cake and soy parfait

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Hemp Café (Tokyo)
Located in Shibuya. Hemp café as the name suggests specialises in vegan food that incorporates hemp into every dish. The menu has a Mexican influence offering a range of burritos with tofu sour cream or vegan cheese, tacos, and burrito bowls served as mains

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Ballon (Tokyo)
Located in Nakameguro. Ballon is a small cafe/stand that offers falafel sandwiches and vegan soft-cream (which happens to be free of charge when you write them a review on Happy Cow!)

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Harukucchii and Banana & Coffee (Fujisawa/Enoshima)
Located in Fujisawa. We visited this vegan café and vegan friendly coffee stand after a day trip to Enoshima, they are both located close to Fujisawa train station. We ordered the sandwich set and soy meat bowl from Harukucchii and got dessert from Banana & Coffee – a soy cream and red bean filled waffle, persimmon smoothie, snowball cookie, and chai latte

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Nataraj (Tokyo)
Located in Chuo, Shibuya, and Suginami. A vegetarian Indian restaurant serving a range of vegan curries, naan, salads, soups, and desserts. The tofu curry from here was probably one of the best curries I have eaten and I definitely recommend trying it

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Convenience stores and supermarkets

It’s good to remember that common products that you might assume to be vegan friendly are not necessarily suitable in Japan (i.e. many breads contain milk). It is important to always check labels or ask if you are unsure. I found the photo section of google translate/auto-translate particularly helpful to decipher what products were suitable for vegans. Other than the obvious non-vegan ingredients it’s also important to look out for these key words in translation:

– Bonito (fish)
– Katsuo (fish)
– Dashi (fish sauce) – avoid agedashi tofu!
– Tare (sauce with butter)
– Amino acids (derived from animal proteins)

Plain (salted) and umeboshi flavoured onigiri from 7 & iHoldings only (other convenience store onigiri contains bonito, tare, and other animal derived ingredients), pre-packaged salads, pickled daikon, charcoal-grilled or packaged sweet potatoes, plain soba noodles, buckwheat noodles, udon noodles, T’s Tan Tan brand cup ramen or Chaya macrobiotics curries from Natural Lawson, edamame, sweet and savoury mochi, dried fruits, giant corn, Calbee chips (plain and norishio flavour), Chip Star chips (plain flavour), Calbee Jagabee chips (lightly salted flavour), Calbee Vegips vegetable chips, roasted chestnuts, fresh fruits and fruit salads, mixed nuts, meiji 70% dark chocolate, plain, and kabocha flavoured macrobiotic biscuits from Natural Lawson, GariGarikun soda ice bars (soda, cola, pear, yuzu citrus flavours), adzuki bean ice-cream, flavoured soy milks, and iced tea

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The foods we purchased from larger supermarkets involved vegan curries, natto, tofu, brown rice miso, seasonal vegetables and fruits, charcoal grilled sweet potato, kanpyo sushi, daifuku, dango, udon noodles, soba noodles, pasta, mochi, soy milk, tea, and oats

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Health food stores such as Jupiters (chain), Crayon House (Omotesando), Natural House (Omotesando), and Kaldi Coffee (chain) also had a range of vegan and imported products. We tried many varieties of imported vegan cookies and chocolate from these stores, Natural House also offered a buffet that had good clearly labelled vegan meal options (i.e. curry, miso soup, tempura, rice, cold vegetable dishes)

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Other non-vegan restaurants with vegan options

Coco Ichibanya Curry House
Coco Ichibanya is a great place to eat if you’re short on time, want to eat cheaply, or unable to find vegan restaurants as the chain is located all over Japan. Many restaurants offer a plant-based menu when requested. This features curries such as eggplant, spinach, okra, and mixed vegetable (there was also a seasonal vegetable curry soup available when I visited). You can adjust the vegetable, rice, and spice level to suit your taste  (if you don’t tolerate spice very well, I recommend opting for no spice or spice level 1 as the spice level is quite strong!)

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Hanamaru Udon
Hanamaru Udon offers one vegan friendly udon, the oroshi-shoyu, consisting of cold udon noodles (without broth), grated daikon radish, and soy sauce. Additionally, you can add sesame seeds, extra soy sauce, and spring onion from the self-service section.

Tempura Tendonya
Tempura Tendonya offers a mixed vegetable tempura available on rice, and with a side of cold soba. Be sure to order without tempura sauce on top of both and ask for soy sauce instead. There is the risk of cross contamination in the tempura frying process so eat here at your own discretion

Soup Stock Tokyo
Soup Stock Tokyo has an easy to understand menu that rotates on a daily basis and has a minimum of one vegan option on offer per day. My go-to soups were the tomato minestrone and green vegetable with rock salt, paired with a side of white rice (the bread is not vegan friendly as it contains milk)

Nagataya
Nagataya is a busy okonomiyaki restaurant located in Hiroshima. While the bulk of it’s menu is far from vegan there are some options available. From here you are able to order an okonomiyaki made from rice noodles, cabbage, corn, spring onion, garlic chips, and drizzled with a vegetable based sauce.

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Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum
Visiting the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is definitely worth the short trip from Tokyo. Not only are the vegan ramen options that are available extremely delicious, but the museum itself is also very interesting. There are four stores that offer vegan friendly ramen, these are signposted on the vending machines from which you order them (indicated by a green tomato symbol).

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Seasonal and Japanese produce
If given the opportunity you should definitely buy some of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and treats that Japanese market stalls have to offer. Some of the foods I have been able to try including charcoal roasted Japanese sweet potatoes, daifuku (red bean mochi), dango (glazed with chestnut and miso), dried sweet potato, vegetable oyaki, roasted chestnuts, fruits such as mandarins, persimmons, and strawberries, even vegan taiyaki if you’re lucky (we found some at Fuji-Q highland theme park and Natural House organic store in Tokyo).

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 Japanese words and characters for particular food products

Yasai (vegetable) 野菜
Kudamono (fruit) 果物
Tounyuu (soy milk) 豆乳
Zerachin (gelatin) ゼラチン
Gyuunyuu (milk) 乳
Sakana (fish) 魚
Bonito/Katsuo/Dashi (fish products) 鰹
Ekisu (extract) エキス
Tamago (egg) 卵
Niku (meat) 肉
Tori (chicken) 鳥

Additional resources

*If you live in Japan or have visited and have any recommendations or suggestions for foods/eateries to be added to this list please feel free to send me a message so I can keep this post updated!

4 thoughts on “VEGAN GUIDE TO EATING YOUR WAY AROUND JAPAN

  1. This is wonderful, thank you so much. Whilst I’ve been to Japan about 5 times (last time I was vegetarian) this next time it will be my first time as a vegan. We are also staying in air bnb in Tokyo to make it easier to cook our own meals when we like. This blog is going to be my go to leading up to and whilst traveling next year. Again thank you for sharing! 😊

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    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you like it and find it helpful 🙂 I will try and keep it as up to date as possible and will add any new places/things to eat as I find them

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  2. This is the most comprehensive blog post I’ve read on eating vegan in Japan, and I really thank you for putting it together 🙂 I’ll be in Japan next month so it’s great to see there are so many options available. I also didn’t know about the ramen museum, but now I can’t wait to visit! Thank you!

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    1. I’m so glad you found this and think it’s helpful! I love visiting Japan, the ramen museum was amazing and I definitely recommend going 🙂

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