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Vegan Japan

Tip: Be aware that many packaged Japanese products (including miso paste, potato chips, and rice cakes) contain some sort of fish seasoning.

Guides and Articles:

Tokyo Vegetarian Guide

Japan Veg Guide

Being Vegetarian in Japan

A Vegan Guide To Japan

Vegan Japan – Vegan People, Happy People

How to Eat at a Japanese Restaurant the Vegan Way

Vegan Japanese Noodle Dishes

Japanese Vegan Foods Found in Oriental or Natural Food Stores

The Japan Times: Lean, Green, and no Hippy Aftertaste

International Herald Tribune: Tokyo Cafe Society goes for a Hipper Diet

Three Main Vegetarian Influences in Japanese Cuisine

The Japan Times: Zen-Modern Cuisine on a Higher Plane

Metropolis: Vegging out in Tokyo

The Foreigner-Japan: Japanese Un-Vegetarianism

Hanako Magazine: Children of the Carrot

Vegetarianism and Vegetarians in Japan

IVU – Japan

Veggywood – Vegan Food in Tokyo

Tokyo VegeFesta

Restaurants and Stores:

Restaurants in the Kansai Region

VegGuide.org – Japan

Bento.com – Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in the Kansai Area

HappyCow – Japan

VegGuide – Japan

VegetarianRestaurants.net – Japan

Tokyo – Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant Guide

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto

Natural Healing Center – Vegetarian and Vegan Info – Tokyo


Forums, Wikis, Groups, and Events:

Japan Vegetarian Society

VeganForum – Veganism in Japan

Vegan Wikia – Japan

TokyoVeg Yahoo Group (and their parent site, Tokyo Veg)

Japan Vegan Runners Club

Tokyo Vegan Meetup Group

Okinawa Vegan Meetup

Kyoto Vegetarian Festival

Tokyo Vegetarian Festival


The Vegan Ronin

Vegetable Japan

Vegetarian Dining in Japan

Vegetarian Japan

PunkYou Japan


Phrases in Japanese Characters (For Printing)

Japanese Food Glossary

Japanese Lessons for Vegetarians

Useful Japanese Expressions

The Japanese Pronunciation Guide

List of Meat Terms

Here are some pictures of the vegan food I ate in Japan. I’ll post more details and guides at a later date.

Get the flash player here: https://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Japanese Phrases for Vegans
shojin ryori (vegan cuisine of Zen Buddhists)
doubutsu wa taberemasen (I can’t eat animals)
katsuo dashi mo taberemasen (I can’t eat fish stock)
doubutsu sei no mono wa subete taberemasen (I can’t eat any animal products)
_________ wa taberemasen (I can’t eat _________)
niku nashi (no meat)
Shojin ryori wa yatte imasuka? (Do you serve vegetarian foods?)
Watashi wa bejetarian desu (I’m a a vegetarian)
Saishoku shugisha (Japanese word for vegetarian)

Japanese Non Vegetarian Food Items
Meat (Niku) and Animals (Doubutsu):
sakana (fish)
gyu niku (beef)
tori niku (chicken)
hitsuju niku (lamb)
buta niku (pork)
maguro (tuna)
hiki-niku (minced meat)
motsu (tripe)
kani (crab)
tako (octopus)
ika (squid)
katsuo (bonito)
kaki (oyster)
uni (sea urchin)
ebi (shrimp)
blowfish (fugu)
sardine (iwashi)
mackeral (saba)
jako and shirasu (small dried fish)
eel (unagi)
katsuobushi, hana katsuo, or kezuri bushi (dried bonito fish flakes)
katsuoekisu (fish extract)
dashi (fish stock)
Other Stuff:
raado (lard)
zerachin (gelatin)
hetto (tallow)
gyuunyuu (milk)
funnyuu (milk powder)
nyu seihin (dairy products)
chiizu (cheese)
tamago (egg)
hoei (whey)
hachimitsu (honey)
bataa (butter)
doubutsu-sei abura (animal oil)

Japanese Vegetarian Food Items
Vegetables (Yasai) and Plants (Shokubutsu)
kikurage (cloud ear mushroom)
hoshi shiitake (dried shiitake mushrooms)

enoke mushrooms
an or anko (sweet bean paste)
azuki bean
daikon (japanese white radish)
gobo (burdock)

Horenso Ohitashi (boiled spinach) – often served with a mixture sesame seeds and soy sauce

Renkon (lotus root)

hiyamugi (thin wheat noodles)
somen (thin wheat noodles)

soba (buckwheat noodles)

udon (thick wheat noodles)

harusame (mung bean noodles)
kishimen (flat, wide, white flour noodle)
Sea Vegetables:

kombu, konbu, or kobu (kelp)
*nori (laver)
kanten (agar-agar)
kombu dashi (kelp stock)
Pickles (Tsukemono or Oshinko):
umeboshi (pickled japanese plum)
beni-shoga (red pickled ginger)
takuan (pickled daikon)

pickled eggplant

Condiments , Herbs, and Seasonings:
miso (fermented soybean paste)
sake (rice wine)
shoyu (soy sauce)
mirin (sweet rice wine)
su (vinegar)
shokubutsu-sei abura (vegetable oil)
wasabi (japanese horseradish)
karashi (japanese mustard)
ichimi (japanese chili pepper)
shichimi (chili peppers mixed with other spices)
rice bran oil, sesame oil
rice vinegar
shiso leaves (perilla)
red shiso (akashiso)
myoga (from the ginger family)

mitsuba (trefoil or japanese parsley)

mochi (rice cake)
sekihan (rice with azuki beans)
ohagi (rice with azuki bean paste)
Soy (Daizu):
edamame (soybeans)
kinako (soybean flour)
yuba (soymilk skin)

atsu-age and abura-age (thick fried tofu rectangles)
asu-age (thin fried tofu rectangles)
koya dofu (freeze dried tofu)
yakidofu (broiled tofu)
kinugoshi tofu (silken tofu)
cotton tofu (firm tofu)

fu (wheat gluten)

kampyo (dried gourd strip)
konnyaku (made from the arum root)


senbei (rice cracker)
sesame seeds (goma)

cha (tea)
chazuke or ochazuke (green tea poured over rice with various toppings)
gyoza (dumpling)
Sweets (Wagashi)
azuki maju (sweet bun with red bean paste)
yokan (jelly-like desert made with red bean paste, agar agar, and sugar)
monaka (rice crackers with red bean filling)
shiratama zenzai (baked wheat flour buns filled with red bean paste)

mochi-gome (sweet rice)

mitarashi dango (grilled rice cake with syrup)

yatsuhashi dango


daigaku imo (Candied sweet potato)

What to eat at Convenience Stores

inari-zushi (sushi wrapped in abura-age)

Onigiri (triangular rice balls wrapped in nori and stuffed with a variety of fillings)

Seaweed and ume (plum) are the types of onigiris suitable for vegans. Generally, there is either a picture or a color to indicate the type of filling. Although it is helpful to memorize the characters too. For example, both of these onigiris have a green label. But the left one is seaweed, the right one is salmon and cream cheese.

Rice balls

Chips (most chips have fish powder, so check the ingredients or ask someone if you can’t read the Japanese). Here are some I found with only vegetable ingredients.

Fruit and Vegetable Juice

Flavored Soymilk (so many different kinds – banana, red potato, black sesame, chocolate, green tea)

What to Eat at Restaurants

Vegetable Sushi (there are many varieties – pickled daikon, eggplant, carrot, cucumber, natto)

Eat at a Buffet Restaurant (Japanese refer to them as “Viking” restaurants). These places aren’t all vegan, but there is generally enough stuff to choose from that you can find plenty of stuff to eat. And…you can eat as much as you want.

Shojin Ryori


Izakaya (Japanese style bar. Many specialize in fish dishes, but some specialize in tofu).

Things that may seem vegan but aren’t always

Miso Soup (fish flavor), Udon Soup (fish stock), Tempura (eggs in batter)

Other Useful Food Words
abura (oil)
dashi (stock)
ekisu (extract)

Sarata (salad)

Nasu (aubergine/eggplant)

Kinoko (Mushroom):


Gohan (rice)

*Click here for a roundup of my blog posts about traveling in Japan.

Leave a comment


  1. Hand Winch ·

     /  November 4, 2010

    veggan foods are always the best for anyones health because it is low fat and low sodium :

  1. Veggie in… JAPAN | Motley Mercury

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