All The Delicious {Vegetarian} Food I Ate In Japan

Vegetarian in Japan

I love food. From raw organic dishes to greasy sweet potato fries to fusion Korean-Mexican, I love it all. But being a vegetarian outside of Europe and coastal America (or Ubud, that place is veggie heaven), is not always easy. I’d never avoid a country because it wasn’t “vegetarian friendly” so sometimes I  just have to make do with whatever I can get. That can mean missing out on local dishes when there isn’t a veggie version.

So can you get vegetarian food in Japan? Before we went I’d read it was impossible to be a vegetarian there. If you eat fish (a pescatarian) then you’d be in heaven, but a non-fish eater would struggle.

Well I’m here to tell you that you lacto-ovo vegetarians will not go hungry. In fact, at least in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto (I’ve no doubt smaller towns would be more problemtatic), you can eat very, very well! There are loads of vegetarian and vegan restaurants popping up and we even found great veggie food in “regular” restaurants too*.

I ate so well, in fact, that I am going to dedicate this whole post to some of the amazing vegetarian food I ate in Japan. Most of these dishes were at full on vegetarian or even vegan restaurants, which were surprisingly easy to come by in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Vegan Ramen at T’s Tan Tan

Vegan Ramen in Tokyo Station
Vegan Ramen in Tokyo Station

It doesn’t look much in the photo but this vegan ramen was so good, I ate it 3 times over the few days we spent in Tokyo! I don’t know why there is a vegan ramen restaurant in Tokyo Station (the station is very big- find it inside the station on “Keiyo Street”) but I am so glad there is. It was our first stop in Tokyo, before we even checked into our hotel, and it set the tone for an amazing culinary trip.

Mumoteki, Kyoto

IMG_2978 IMG_2926

Thanks to lovely Vivien from Lost in Translation for this one. We couldn’t manage to coordinate a meet up but I did eat well in Kyoto thanks to Vivien’s excellent blog. We ended up at mumoteki twice. They even had a veggie version of a katsu curry. Fellow Brits may be familiar with Wagamama’s back in the UK and their veggetable katsu curry (mmm deep fried sweet potato). That’s my favourite dish there, but in Japan it is definitely not a veggie dish.  I was so happy to find a vegetarian version here.

Random Veggie Curry, Kyoto Station

Vegetarian Curry, Kyoto

We stumbled across this place when looking for a quick bite to eat in Kyoto station. It turns out stations are interesting places in Japan and seem to contain shopping malls, hotels and everything else. We found this cute little cafe (the mug says Cosme Kitchen so I’m guessing that’s what it was called- but I honestly can’t remember!) and as luck would have it, they had a veggie curry on for their lunch set! Yum!

Udon Noodles in Sapporo Airport

Udon, Sapporo Airport

Before I mention the food can I just talk about the wonder that is Sapporo Airport? I could have spent all day there exploring the restaurants, shops and cinema. I love Udon noodles and these were just from a random food court- you could select your own toppings (that’s a big slab of tofu) and sides (deep fried lotus and sweet potato for me). So simple but seriously delicious.

Sushi, Shibuya, Tokyo

Vegetarian Sushi Japan

I can’t remember what this place in Shibuya was called (anyone know?) but it was super fun! You order your sushi on the computer then it whizzes down a conveyor belt to you. It’s probably not the best sushi in the world but it was certainly entertaining. Justin eats fish, but I don’t, so I tend to eat loads of my favourite tofu parcel dish and anything else that looks non-fishy (in this case cucumber roles and omelette sushi).

Tamana Shokudo, Omotesando, Tokyo

Vegetarian Food In Omotesando

Healthy, organic food in Omotesando. It was a little tricky to find but definitely worth it. The staff were so friendly as well.

Brown Rice, Omotesando, Tokyo

Brown Rice by Neal's Yard, Tokyo

As a Brit, I am familiar with Neal’s Yard Remedies for their soaps and moisturisers. Imagine my surprise when I found out they also own a lovely veggie cafe in Tokyo. The food was delicious and they even have Neal’s Yard hand-wash in the bathrooms.

Japanese Convenience SnacksConvenience Store Snacks

Japanese Snacks

Japanese convenience stores have the best snacks. A day isn’t complete without a a quick convenience stop or two. Enough said.

Ain Soph, Tokyo

So there you go- it is indeed possible to get vegetarian food in Japan. Bonus mention goes to Ain Soph Journey– a lovely vegan restaurant in Shinjuku- but I didn’t take any photos there! There are so many more vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto that we didn’t even get to try. I’d definitely go back to Japan just to try them!

*Side note: A few years ago I made the decision that, when travelling and eating in non-veggie restaurants, I would take a kind of “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” approach to whether or not there was fish or meat stock used in the broth. While almost all of these dishes were in fully veg or vegan restaurants, I couldn’t account for the broth in the non-veggie places.

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Vegetarian Food In Japan

What do you think of the food- what would you like to try? Were you surprised that there were so many vegetarian restaurants in Japan?

15 thoughts on “All The Delicious {Vegetarian} Food I Ate In Japan

  1. During my two years in Yamagata Prefecture (2008-10), I survived and thrived as a vegetarian in Japan. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in this blog, but I had a book – sort of like a bible for vegetarians in Japan – that was a godsend. The book listed Japanese vegetarian recipes and all sorts of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the country. In Tsuruoka (my town in Yamagata Prefecture), there was a South Asian restaurant named Kripa that served delicious Indian curry.

  2. I ate such delicious vegetarian and vegan food when I was living in Taiwan, and I can see from this that Japan must be just as delicious when it comes to veggie food! Fingers crossed I’ll get to eat my way through Japan one day!

  3. The food alone makes me want to move to Japan. Maybe it was because I live in Korea (land of MEAT) but I couldn’t get over how vegetarian friendly things were in Japan. I felt like I was in heaven. And now you’ve just reminded me of everything there and made me want to go back.

    1. I was really surprised at the veggie options in Japan too! In Korea I really only had the option of bibimbap (which, admittedly I love) but even then I usually had to request not have the meat in it. I remember ordering a vegetarian pizza in Mr Pizza in Korea and they decided to add meat to it. They thought they were being kind but we were like errr there’s a reason we ordered the one called “vegetarian!” 🙂

  4. I’m not vegetarian, but I love healthy and simple dishes! Wow, Japan has so much to offer in terms of food where meat is not served :). Real yum!

  5. I think that maybe the people who say it’s hard to be vegetarian in Japan just didn’t have the right guides 🙂 I lived in Japan for quite a bit of time and came to find that there were SO many vegetarian options. One of my favorite Mom and Pop restaurants in Azabu-Juban (the name of the restaurant is failing me) had an amazing lunch deal. You just had to tell them either “meat”, “fish” or “vegetable” and you would get an amazing meal catered to your dietary requirements. Great post!

    1. Hi there,
      As a vegetarian living in Azabu Juban, I would LOVE to know how to find this Mom & Pop place! Any chance you recall what it is near or other identifying features? Thanks!!
      Andrea

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