Awareness of vegetarian and vegan lifestyle is increasing in Japan, there’s even a vegan ice cream shop in Harajuku now – but there are still many challenges to being a vegetarian or vegan in Tokyo. In this article with the help of Shimizu Sensei (our resident vegetarian and cooking master) we hope to equip you with some language tools that you can use to improve your experiences while shopping and eating out as a vegetarian or vegan in Tokyo. We will also share our recommendations for our favorite vegan ramen shops in Tokyo.
This blog is written with the collaboration of Coto Japanese Club and HealthyTOKYO. Coto Japanese Club is a relaxed Japanese language learning club that was started from Coto Japanese Academy. They provide conversation based learning in a small group setting, based on a schedule that works for you. The Academy started in 2000 and have locations in Iidabashi and Azabu-Juban.
Helpful Japanese Phrases
How to explain that you are a Vegan / Vegetarian in Japanese:
私は ヴィーガン です。
Watashi wa bi-gan desu.
I am a vegan.
私は ベジタリアン です。
Watashi wa bejitarian desu.
I am a vegetarian.
私は 動物性のもの を 食べません
Watashi wa doubutsu sei no mono o tabemasen.
I do not eat anything with animal products.
How to ask for a vegetable only menu:
Yasai dake no menyu ga arimasu ka?
Do you have a vegetable only menu?
bi-gan taiō no menyu ga arimasu ka?
Do you have a vegan compatible menu?
How to ask if a dish includes certain ingredients:
これは （肉・魚・乳製品・卵・ゼラチン・何）が 入っていますか。
Kore wa niku (sakana・nyu-seihin・tamago・zerachin) ga haitte imasu ka?
Does this have meat ( fish・dairy products・eggs・gelatin) in it?
How to request vegan / vegetarian only dishes:
肉・魚・乳製品・卵・ゼラチン 抜きで お願します。
Niku・Sakana・nyu-seihin・tamago・zerachin nuki de onegaishimasu
We request that our food is meat, fish, dairy product and gelatin free.
Sumimasen watashi wa bi-gan nandesu ga niku sakana nyu-seihin tamago ga haitteinai menu ga arimasuka?
I’m sorry to trouble you, I am a vegan – do you have a menu that is meat, fish, dairy, and egg free?
Reading Ingredient Labels for Japanese Foods
Reading Japanese food ingredient labels can be a challenging experience. Below we have included some common food ingredient kanji and hiragana to watch out for when you are shopping in Tokyo.
We have also included an example label below so you can see them in context.
Words to Look for on Japanese Ingredient Labels
Have you ever tried scanning an ingredient label in Japanese? It can be intimidating to see so many kanji bunched together. Below are some key vocabulary that you can use to determine whether or not a food is safe to eat for vegetarian / vegan diets in Japanese.
動物性原料 不使用（どうぶつせい げんりょう ふしよう）(Doubutsusei genryou hushou): Does not include raw animal products
動物由来原料（どうぶつゆらいげんりょう）(Doubutsu yuraigenryou): Animal By-Products
植物性原料使用（しょくぶつせい げんりょう しよう）(Shokubutsusei genryou) : Vegetable By-Products
マクロビオティック／マクロビ (Makurobioteikku / makurobi) Macrobiotic / Microbi
卵・乳不使用 (Tamago . Nyuu Hushou): Does not contain egg or milk
ビーガン、ヴィーガン、対応 (bi-gan – wi-gan – Taiou): Vegan / Vegan Safe
Recommended Tofu based foods for Vegetarians and Vegans
For vegetarians and vegans in Tokyo, Tofu is staple food that can be prepared many different ways – ranging as everything from a main ingredient in entrees to toppings that are added to other dishes.
Here are some names of tofu dishes that we recommend as delicious and vegan / vegetarian friendly foods:
高野豆腐 (こうやどうふ) – Kouya Dofu – Freezedried Tofu
豆腐 (とうふ) – Tofu
おから – Okara – Soy Pulp (Insoluble leftovers after squeezing water out of soybeans)
がんもどき – Gan mo doki – Fried Tofu Fritter made with vegetables (carrots, lotus roots, burdock etc)
ゆば – Yuba – Tofu Skin (A thin peel of tofu that forms on the top of water when buckwheat soymilk is heated)
厚あげ (あつあげ) – Atsuage – Thick slices of deep fried tofu – golden on the outside – white and raw on the inside.
テンペ – Tenpe – A fermented type of hardened Soy Bean that forms a cake. Originated from Indonesia it has more proteins and minerals than Tofu.
油揚げ (あぶらあげ) – Abura age – Thinly sliced deep fried tofu.
大豆ミート – (だいずミート) Daizu mi-to – Soy Based meat alternative that is created after oil pressing soy beans and drying at a high temperature.
Vegan Friendly Sauces and Seasonings
This is a list of vegan / vegetarian friendly seasonings and sauces that you can use to spruce up home cooked dishes.
大葉みそ – (おおばみそ) Ooba Miso – Sweetened Miso with ooba leaves
もみじおろし – Momiji Oroshi – grated daikon radish and red chili peppers
醤油麹 – (しょうゆこうじ) Shouyu Ko-ji – Fermented Japanese Seasoning made with Soy Sauce and Ko-ji
ラー油 (らーゆ)- Raayu – Chili oil – Sauce made by putting chilli and spices in rice oil with a small amount of sesame oil.
柚子こしょう (ゆずこしょう)- Yuzu koshou – Japanese seasoning paste made from chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt.
海苔の佃煮 (のりのつくだに)- Nori no Tsukudani – Soy Sauce Flavored Paste made with seaweed and mirin.
なめ茸 (なめたけ) – Nametake – Pickled soft enoki mushrooms with soy sauce
ゆずぽん – Yuzu pon – A mixture of yuzu pon, soy sauce, vinegar and fruit juice. It has a nice fragrance due to the ingredients.
塩麹 (しおこうじ)- Shio Ko-ji – A fermented Japanese seasoning made with salt and and Ko-ji. Has a very good umami flavor.
Recommended Ramen Restaurants for every Vegetarian and Vegan in Tokyo
There’s quite a few vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo, but finding a vegan / vegetarian friendly ramen restaurant in Tokyo can be a challenging experience. We have included a list of our favorite shops below.
Many of these shops have late night operating hours and gluten free options as an added bonus!
Popular with travelers due to its multiple locations at Major JR Stations and extended operating hours.
This all vegan menu restaurant is a dream for vegans living in Tokyo.
JR Tokyo Station (inside the ticket gate) Keiyo street (1st floor) 7: 00 ~ 23: 00
JR Ueno station (inside the ticket gate) Ecute Ueno (3F)
Monday – Saturday 7: 00 ~ 23: 00 Sundays and public holidays 7: 00 ~ 22: 30
The exact menu differs depending on the store location, but each shop includes a vegan menu with gluten free noodles also available. We enjoy the modern design and relaxed atmosphere.
Kojimachi Main Store 1-3-10 Hirakawacho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Blue Building Main Building 1 B
Monday – Friday 11: 00 ~ 22: 00 Saturday · Holiday 11: 00 ~ 15: 00
Kyobashi store (Soranoiro Tonkotsu & Mushroom)
2-2-1 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Kyobashi Edogran B1F
Monday – Friday 11: 00 ~ 21: 45 Saturdays, Sundays 11: 00 ~ 15: 00 Closed holidays Once a month, closed on Sunday night
Tokyo Station (Soranoiro NIPPON)
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Tokyo Station No.1 Street Underground Ramen Street JR Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit Connected
8: 30 ~ 22: 30
With locations in Yokohama, Atsugi, and even in Portland in the US – this shop is wildly popular due to its late night “post drink” operating hours in convenient locations. A great place to bring friends after a night on the town.
Ebisu store: Tokyo Ebisu Shibuya ku Ebisu 1-1-7 117 building 1F 11: 00 ~ next day at 5:00 A.M.
Harajuku store: 3-63-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Grande Foresta 1F 10: 00 ~ 23: 00
Naka-Meguro store: Tokyo Meguro-ku Kamimeguro 1-23-1 Nakameguro Arena 1F 11: 00 ~ next day at 5:00 A.M.
Roppongi store: Minato-ku, Tokyo 6-2-31 Roppongi Roppongi Hills North Tower B1F 11: 00 ~ 23: 00
Sangenjaya store: Sangenjaya 2-12-11, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 11: 00-5: 00
Shinjuku Lumine Store: 1-1-5 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Lumine 1 B2F 11: 00 ~ 22: 00
Hopefully from this article you’ve found being vegan in Tokyo isn’t quite as hard as one might think! Also don’t forget to check out Coto Japanese Club for all your language learning needs!