HappyCow Guide
The most trusted vegetarian and vegan restaurant guide since 1999  

Regional Information on Japan

Japan, Asia
Regional Notes - Events - Gatherings & Groups - Travel Information

HappyCow previously offered this space for vegetarian events, vegetarian travel or general information for Japan, suggestions such as hotel recommendations, travel agencies, or any other regional vegan and vegetarian related information.
However, this has been discontinued due to inactivity.
For restaurant reviews, go to the listings page.


Visitor Notes:

Subject: 'Fish bases in dishes'
Posted by ypreston on: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM PST
Many Japanese dishes use fish to flavor the water they use to cook with, such as miso soup. I was unaware, so if you end up at a regular restaurant, be careful of which dishes you order!

Subject: 'Japanese "vegetarian".'
Posted by Ricardo on: Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 06:42 AM PST
It is not 100% guaranteed that the "veggie" burgers in "Freshness burger" are actually vegetarian. I have asked in the store, and they said that they cannot assure me that there is no animal products in the burger sauce.

In general, it is good to consider that many of Japanese places have no clue about what "vegetarian" or "vegan" food is, so if you see something that says "only vegetables" it doesn't mean they disn't use bonito (katsuo) stock or chicken broth, specially when preparing sauces.
You have to be specially careful if you go to eat "okonomiyaki" or "yakisoba", since their sauces come with "chicken extract" or "bonito flavor".

I've even had the experience of going to a Tofu restaurant that said "vegetarian course" (in English) but it turned out that they used bonito stock when preparing the food.

In summary, just to be sure, unless you go to a 100% vegan place, always re-check with the waiter.

Subject: 'Not all dashi is fish or meat-based!'
Posted by krazykat on: Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 03:23 AM PST
Although very VERY rare and not many, some restaurants use kombu(kelp) or shitake mushroom based dashi. However, bonito dashi is overly popular. You're lucky if you find restaurants that serves vegetable based dashi...

Also...one warning regarding natto(fermented soy beans). It may be seasoned with dashi(again, bonito/fish).
Make sure to check it before ordering food that contain natto, just to be on the safer side...

Subject: 'Veggie burgers for tourists!'
Posted by jacqui on: Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 03:34 AM PST
Struggled to find a veggie restaurant in Tokyo we found Freshness burger (branches all over Tokyo - e.g. Shibuya) do 3 veggie burgers: bean burger (the nicest), mushroom burger (didnt try) and tofu burger (slab of tofu with salad, not great for my western palate), cost 480 yen. You order at the counter (Japanese menu one side, menu in English on the other), also do chips, onion rings etc. Some branches seem to be open for 24 hours and they have a website.

Subject: 'The link for the pocketguide below'
Posted by Jessqi on: Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 06:23 PM PST
I forgot to mention it is bilingual and here's the link.


Subject: 'Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide'
Posted by Jessqi on: Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 06:17 PM PST
In Tokyo I picked up this excellent resource for vegans and vegetarians. As well as a large listing and reviews of vegan and vegan friendly restaurants in many parts of Japan it also has their opening hours and excellent accurate maps of how to get to the places. This is a lifesaver in Tokyo especially. This guide also has heaps of useful information for vegans travelling in Japan such as what to get at sushi shops and what to get at the convenience store and how to try and get vege/vegan broth.

I picked it up at a vegetarian restaurant in Tokyo and I noticed that a lot of the vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo had copies.

It is called "Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide" by Herwin Walravens. I got the 2009/2010 edition.

Without it I probably would have made a lot more errors in trying to order vegan food. And I would have missed out on some great options like all the yummy soymilk flavours in the convenience store.

N.b. Two more great vegan sushi options not mentioned in this book are oshinko (pickle) and umejiso (sour plum and chrysanthemum leaf).

Subject: 'ANEW Chain Store'
Posted by The Veggie Cook on: Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 08:47 AM PST
There are hundreds of Anew stores through Japan. Carries vegetarian burgers and sausage, corned beef, quinoa, eco products. www.anew.co.jp

Subject: 'Yes, don't trust anything by sight alone!'
Posted by utopistsoul on: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 at 10:49 PM PST
Forgot to add.....even name brands that are vegetarian in your own country may have changed in Japan. For example Cheetos here include chicken. Also their egg sandwiches have chicken seasoning. If it looks ok, it really may not be. Check everything according to what you want to eat and what you don't.

Subject: 'Convenience store-What to be careful of..'
Posted by utopistsoul on: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 at 10:42 PM PST
In Japan many of us eat a quick meal or snack found at the many conbinis (convenience stores) or 100 yen shops. Since I've been here, I've made cards of ingredients and asked numerous friendly Japanese people to read every label on things that appeared to be vegetarian for me. I was lucky to have such gracious people around. I discovered that even the "Melon bread" sometimes has lard in it. Also know that almost ALL the rice crackers and snacks have fish or chicken in the mix, even if it looks very innocent. Some kindly Japanese people tried to feed me some of those snacks in the past and swore they were vegetarian until I asked them to please read the ingredients. They were shocked themselves. Even the popular small snack style rice crackers with peanuts almost always include meat/fish in their ingredients. Be aware that even some soy sauces have fish as their ingredients. Onigiri (rice balls) are usually ok if they appear that way, but some conbini's (example7-11) include dashi (fish stock) in even the plane seaweed and rice ones. If you are ok with eggs but not fish than know that their rolled fried eggs are also simmered in fish sauce. If they look a little brownish that is the sauce. One way to beat this problem is by finding a good Japanese friend to take you to a market or conbini and read off the ingredients. Once you find what is ok to buy and eat then take a quick photo of it or make a card of the company and product info. You can also make a card of all fish and meat ingredients so you can start getting use to searching out the unwanted ingredients yourself. I'm finally comfortable with finding food here and I hope you can become that way too. It definitely takes serious effort but its worth it right!? Good luck and keep at it!

Subject: 'I'd Have to Agree...Not Exactly Veg-Friendly'
Posted by westcornersville on: Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 01:41 PM PST
Restaurants in Japan are different from Japanese restaurants in the US--they tend to just sell one type of food. Quite often, that food will be something with fish, beef or pork (or at a minimum, dashi, the fish powder). Even Japanese tofu restaurants usually have meat-based broths in all their dishes. The vegetarian restaurants are typically a little off the beaten path and can be hard to find (and sometimes have limited hours)--but there are some really good ones out there, once you find them. Some even have buffets, which are great considering many Japanese restaurants have small portions (when ordering a set meal or a la carte). One good thing--most sushi places offer a few vegetarian sushis, such as "natto maki" (actually a bit adventurous given the natto is strongly fermented soybeans) and "kappa maki" (the simple cucumber roll), and these are often relatively cheap (sometimes as little as around 100-150 yen for a small roll). Tempura places will sometimes have vegetarian tempura (though not vegan--there's usually egg in the batter). Also, Indian and Italian restaurants are abundant in the cities and are almost always (especially Indian) vegetarian friendly.

Subject: 'Eat More Greens... in Tokyo (Azabu-Juban)'
Posted by SP on: Friday, October 05, 2007 at 03:34 PM PST
Vegetarian with vegan options!

Subject: 'kind of difficult'
Posted by Guest on: Monday, July 31, 2006 at 12:30 AM PST
Being veggie in japan is pretty difficult. Almost everything has meat or fish stock in it, right down to the salad dressing. Japanese waitstaff are notoriously bad for not knowing what's in a dish - numerous times I've asked several times if something has meat, been vigorously assured that it does not, and then received a dish with a big piece of beef or bacon right on top. This is not a language barrier - I'm communicating in Japanese. It's a cultural ignorance of vegetarianism.
When eating out, I tend to stick to vegetarian restaurants, Italian places, and especially Indian restaurants, where there's almost always something I can eat. I've added several listings to this site, many of which are veg-friendly but not 100% veg - but in towns smaller than Tokyo or Kyoto, being able to find anything at all to eat can be a real challenge.

Subject: 'Japanese snacks'
Posted by Chia on: Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 09:32 AM PST
Here is what I tried on my trip: Vegan - roasted chestnuts & baked rice cakes. Vegetarian (with dairy or eggs or white sugar) - assorted baked sweet cookies, cookies with peanuts, cakes, and red bean paste jelly. All very tasty.

Subject: 'fukuoka'
Posted by Guest on: Monday, October 31, 2005 at 11:30 PM PST
does anyone know of a veggie place in fukuoka, japan?

More local events & info at: Member Community Forum