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Being a vegetarian in Japan

Updated: Nov 16, 2019


If you are a vegetarian, you may find it difficult to eat in Japan since there are not many restaurants which have vegetarian menus there, unless you are in Tokyo.

Even in big cities like Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto, it is not easy to find vegetarian food.


You go into a restaurant and tell them that you don't eat meat or fish. They may say they can make something without meat and fish, but they still use fish broth. Somehow many Japanese people don't consider fish broth as fish, or they don't even question it.


I once was a vegetarian in Japan. I had an option to go to Italian restaurants, or Indian restaurants, to find somewhere that didn't use meat or fish. You end up eating a lot of carbs at Italian places. As far as Indian food goes, there aren't many Indian places in countryside. In Japan, of course you would want to eat Japanese food, but you really need to make sure that they can do true vegetarian options.


Japanese Vegetarian food

I eventually gave up on avoiding fish broth, as it was too difficult for me to find food without fish broth. If you are a vegetarian but if you can do fish broth just for Japan, you will be OK there.


But if you don't want to do the fish broth, then you would have to make sure the restaurants understand what you mean by "vegetarian"; you would have to tell them that you don't eat meat, chicken, fish, and fish broth, probably communicating in Japanese.


精進料理 Buddhist Cuisine (Vegetarian)

I work with yoga teachers from different countries in Japan, translating their classes. Many yoga teachers are vegetarians. I used to create a note for them in Japanese, which says "Do you have vegetarian food? I don't eat meat, fish, chicken and fish broth", so that they can show that at restaurants before they order.


I will write some versions of it here, so if you are a vegetarian and going to Japan, you can use it over there.


"Do you have vegetarian food? I don't eat meat, fish, chicken and fish broth"

菜食メニューはありますか?。私は赤い肉、魚、鶏肉、魚の出汁が食べれません。


or


"Do you have vegetarian food? I don't eat meat, fish, chicken but I can take fish broth"

菜食メニューはありますか?。私は赤い肉、魚、鶏肉が食べれません。魚の出汁は食べられます。



Another thing you can do is to eat 精進料理 (Shojin Ryori) at temples. It is traditional Buddhist Cuisine and it is vegetarian. For example, you may be able to eat that at Hieizan Temple in Shiga and Kyoto, and Shigisan in Kyoto.


Udon restaurant in Kyoto (おめん)

I was a vegetarian for about 6 years in Japan, but now I eat anything. Whatever your preference is, I hope you find nice food and enjoy your trip to Japan.



At airbnb in Nagano with awesome food!

If you ever need any help before&during your Japan trip, drop me a line.

Simple questions, drop them in a comment section.

For more in depth support, I can help you on "fiverr" and "Oyrra"; anything you like, including translation and interpretation.

- For help and written translations, I offer my service on the "fiverr" platform at a reasonable price. It is free to visit, so please have a look, and if you like it contact me on "fiverr". https://www.fiverr.com/kumisnowy/help-you-with-your-trip-to-japan - For online interpretation (for me to actually translate Japanese-English on a smartphone), I use the "Oyraa" platform. If you need to communicate with people in Japan, and if no one around you is able to help out with the language, I may be able to help! If you have a smartphone in an environment with WiFi connection, you can hire me as your interpreter from Japan or elsewhere; so for that, the link to my "Oyraa" profile is below. https://www.oyraa.com/interpreters/detail/5da52c13897951304d742b92


Thank you for reading!


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