Traveling to Japan as a vegan? Top tips you need to know

How to travel to Japan as a vegan. Useful tips and resources to help you prepare.

2/18/20242 min read

screenshot from restaurant search website
screenshot from restaurant search website

As a vegan and travel enthusiast, it is always important to know you can travel stress-free and find vegan options easily at a destination before you start packing.

However, in Japan, fish stock is often used in dishes, and you may have heard that it is quite challenging to travel here as a vegan.

Not only the fish in dishes is difficult to avoid, but also the language barrier and the unwillingness of restaurants to modify dishes don’t make things easier.

There is still a way to get around in Japan while staying vegan. Below are a few tips that will help you make your dream trip to Japan possible and enjoyable as well if followed!

1)     Traveling to big cities is easier for vegans.

Tokyo is the ‘vegan capital’ of Japan and there are plenty of vegan options. Not only there is a lot of choice, but the quality of the dishes is also quite high – here you can have the best vegan food in Japan. Even better, people in Tokyo do care about design and atmosphere so most places are also very nice looking. Kyoto has a few nice vegan options, as well as Hiroshima. If you stick to major cities in Japan, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find food.

Bonus tip: in Kyoto try looking for Shojin Ryori, temple food which is traditionally vegan. Some restaurants might use fish stock these days, so make sure you ask them to prepare the dishes without it if eating at a restaurant.

2)     Use restaurant search apps and other resources.

Wherever place you decide to visit in Japan, HappyCow and Vegewel are your best friends. For HappyCow you can download their very convenient app (recommended!). Just be careful because some places might not have been updated, so make sure you always check the restaurant’s website or social media account before you decide to eat there, as some places might have closed meantime.

Another good website is where you can find information about which foods are vegan at the supermarket or convenience store, and other vegan products.Write your text here...

3) If everything else fails, try Italian.

I do not generally recommend visiting a mainstream restaurant that has not been confirmed to have vegan options as you might end up eating only edamame only for dinner all evening and that’s not quite fun. However, if you happen to be in an area where you cannot find a vegan-friendly restaurant, I would recommend trying an Italian one. Most of the time you can find Pizza Marinara, a simple pasta dish and some vegetable fritters. Try asking them to make some pizza or pasta for you if they don’t seem to have those on the menu, as Italian restaurants are usually more willing to customize the dishes.

4) Be careful with apparently vegan dishes.

You would be surprised to know that even fries often are not vegan! Unfortunately, most restaurants in Japan fry them in lard. Lots of other dishes such as tofu, tempura, vegetable soup etc that seem vegan, might contain eggs, bonito flakes or other animal based hidden ingredients. The same applies for convenience store foods such as onigiri.

5) Planning. Planning. Planning.

If you are a spontaneous person, you might not like this part. But planning which restaurants you are going to eat at will make things so much easier during the trip!

If you would like some help planning your vegan trip, Japan by Locals team is prepared to help, having vegan trip advisors. Reach out to us for a customized experience.

Girls wearing yukata walking in Asakusa, Tokyo
Girls wearing yukata walking in Asakusa, Tokyo