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Vegan in Japan – how I planned

Desk with Japanese decoration and planning materials.

I realised from the start that it wouldn't be as easy to be a vegan in Japan as it would be in Thailand, for example. For my holiday there, I pinned a few blog posts and created a trip on Happycow – but I only looked at all this a few times during my trip and still always found something to eat. It's a different story in Japan: Good planning is essential if you don't want to end up eating just konbini onigiri (rice balls from the convenience store).

For anyone who needs a little help planning their vegan trip to Japan, I've put together my resources here.



Generally useful

Learning material for Hiragana and Japanese vocabulary.

Japanese language course

Can you get around as a tourist in Japan without knowing the language? Yes and no. Especially in touristic places, many locals know English, even if it's just a few sentences that they have memorised for their job, e.g. when selling tickets in museums. Nevertheless, there were a few situations on my trip where it was very helpful that I had attended a short language course beforehand.

There is a regular survival Japanese language course for travellers at the adult education centre in my city. Here I not only learnt how to order food in Japanese in a restaurant, but also how to behave in temples and shrines, among other things. You also have the opportunity to ask the teacher how best to ask for vegan options when eating out.

So see if the adult education centre or (if available) the Japanese institute in your area offers a similar language course. I found it really helpful.

Is it vegan Japan

This website is practically the bible for vegan travelling in Japan. It has everything from food farms and vegan-friendly doctors to a huge list of vegan foods – you'll find lots of helpful information here.

There is a list of vegan-friendly accommodation, even if it is somewhat hidden under the "Food on the go" tab.

With the vegan dictionary, you definitely have a good source if you need to look something up quickly. Of course, you'll find lots of terms relating to food here, but also to clothing.

Links | Link


Vegan experiences

Jana at a tea ceremony in Japan

Tea ceremony

Have you always wanted to experience a real tea ceremony? Then you're in luck: they're always vegan. You are served matcha and wagashi. These are green tea and a sweet to counteract the bitter flavour of the tea.

Tea ceremonies are offered all over Japan. I even found one performed by a maiko (a geisha in training) – followed by a dance performance.

However, I opted for a tea ceremony in Kyoto, before which you prepare your own wagashi. Even in a kimono, in which I was allowed to stroll through the city afterwards.

There are so many different providers for tea ceremonies. To help you, I have linked Maikoya here, through whom I booked mine.

Links | Website

Cooking class

This should definitely not be missing on your itinerary! Seriously, there is no better place to learn how to cook a particular dish than in its origin country.

For vegan cooking classes in Japan, take a look at AirKitchen. This is a platform where people can offer courses in their own kitchens. So you also get the opportunity to take a look inside a Japanese home and chat with locals.

I opted for the ramen and gyoza course from the lovely Makiko in Tokyo. She really spoilt us with her cooking skills and gave us helpful tips on how to recreate her recipes at home.

Links | Website

Vegan festivals

Did I plan my itinerary around the only vegan food festival during that period? Oh, yes! And it was definitely worth it.

There are various vegan festivals in Japan. "Is it vegan Japan" has a list of the most important dates throughout the year.

I myself visited the Vegan Gourmet Festival in Tokyo. Many restaurants and food producers offered a wide variety of delicacies. Although vegan food is not yet so widespread, vegan festivals are very popular. A few stalls were already sold out by lunchtime. So be early.


How to find vegan food


On her blog, Tessa gives tips on all aspects of travelling in Japan. So this is also a really good source for everything that has nothing to do with veganism to organise your trip.

Although veganism is not a main topic of the blog, Tessa has collected many vegan-vegetarian restaurants in a blog post. Sorted by dish, you'll also find the right vocabulary for each one. This is particularly helpful if you end up in a restaurant without an English menu.

Links | Link (German)

Japan Vegan

Jesse has been providing helpful restuarant and survival tips for vegans in Japan on his blog since 2013. He not only reports on various restaurants, but also gives travel tips for Tokyo, Kyoto and the ski resorts of Japan, among other places.

Jesse has also written the travel guide "Japan – A Travel Guide for Vegans", which you can download for around 10 dollars. In addition to practical tips for vegans, you will also find general information, e.g. about accommodation and public transport, but also about the country's history, politics and religions.

Links | Blog | Guidebook

The book "The vegan Guide to Tokyo" and Japanese learning materials.

The Vegan Guide to Tokyo

Online research is very practical, but I love browsing through a printed travel guide with a cup of tea. I always imagine myself being at the destination and visiting all the sights. It's similar with "The Vegan Guide to Tokyo". The only difference is that it focuses on food. So I always imagine myself savouring the delicacies pictured. A dream!

The travel guide for vegan foodies is organised according to Tokyo's districts and offers detailed restaurant descriptions. There are also a few smaller chapters on other cities.

On the last page there is a card to tear out that states in Japanese what you don't eat as a vegan. You can keep it in your wallet and take it out every time you're in a restaurant if you have problems understanding it. My husband has copied it a few times just in case.

Links | Link

A map of Japan is open in the HappyCow app on a smartphone

Happy Cow

I've hardly met a vegan person who doesn't know Happy Cow. But for the sake of completeness, I have to mention the platform anyway.

Via the website and app, you can find restaurants around the world with vegan options posted by the community. You can create journeys and save restaurants that you want to try. Happy Cow is super helpful!

Links | Website


Helpful Instagram Accounts

I also like to look for inspiration for my travels on Instagram. Creators there try out different food spots and provide further information that you can be pretty sure is up to date. The content from these creators has helped me a lot:


Abby shares her vegan food and restaurant finds on her Instagram channel – mainly in Tokyo, but also in the rest of Japan.

Links | Instagram


This is the Instagram channel of Jesse from the Japan Vegan Blog, which I mentioned above. Here he tastes his way through vegan food and shows you where to find it.

Links | Instagram


On her channel, Alina gives tips and tricks to help vegans get by in Japan as well as restaurant recommendations. She even offers private, vegan-friendly tours of Tokyo and the surrounding area.

Links | Instagram


The Instagram channel for the book "The Vegan Guide to Tokyo". Chiara tries out Tokyo's vegan food and gives her personal recommendations.

Links | Instagram


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It’s me: Jana.

A vegan foodie with a big heart for the spooky and beautiful.

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