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Travel Tips

Japan Travel Tips For Vegans - Top Tips After 11 Trips Across japan

Explore Japan as a vegan with this practical guide! Discover top restaurants, travel tips, and more.
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Are you worried that traveling to Japan as a vegan might be challenging?

Many people believe that Japan, with its seafood-rich cuisine and reliance on ingredients like fish stock (dashi), is a difficult destination for vegans.

But this couldn't be further from the truth.

Japan actually is a great country for vegans. From traditional ramen to trendy fruit sandwich, you'll find an amazing range of delicious vegan eats. With a bit of research and preparation, your Japan trip can be your dream foodie trip.

In this guide, I'll share my top tips and recommendations from my 11 trips across Japan, including the best vegan restaurants in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and more.


If you are going to the cities that are popular with tourists, then language is not going to be a big problem as there most signs have English on it, but I’d still recommend learning some basic phrases like "excuse me" (すみません, sumimasen) and "thank you" (ありがとうございます, arigatou gozaimasu). That would make your trip a lot more enjoyable. Also, most vegan friendly restaurants have English menus.

If you need to translate anything, Google Translate works well enough most of the times. Another app I use often in Japan is Papago.

Finding Vegan Food

Japan has some amazing vegan food. There are a lot of hidden vegan gems in Japan if you’re happy to do some research before going. Here are some of my top picks:

Tokyo: Vegan Bistro Jangara (highly recommend the kobonshan ramen), T’s Restaurant (the Doria is to die for), Izakaya Masaka (the karaage is juice and meaty)

Koboshan ramen from Vegan Bistro Jangara

Kyoto: Vegan Ramen UZU (the ramen broth is so so rich), Mumokuteki Cafe (their meals come with 6-7 small dishes and they are all amazing)

Gozen from Mumokuteki Cafe

Osaka: Mercy Vegan Factory (the egg sandwich is so nostalgic), Vegancafe Sister (best patisserie)

Egg sandwich from Mercy Vegan Factory

Nara: Onwa (get the Vegan Delight plate which has everything), vegan soy milk ice cream inside Nara Park (eat with the deers!)

Black sesame soy milk ice cream in Nara Park

Kamakura: Chirashiya (beautiful vegan sushi plate)

Kobe: Vegan Cafe Kiu (delicious vegan plates)

Himeji: Sai Cafe (a bit out of the way but the food is so high quality)

A thing to keep in mind is that I’d recommend only going to places that have a dedicated vegan menu. Other restaurants may not understand the concept of ‘veganism’ and there are a lot of non-vegan ingredients that are not apparent at first, like dashi (fish soup stock) which is used in so many dishes. Non-vegan restaurants may not know that those ingredients are not suitable for vegans. You’ll be safer going to all-vegan restaurants or restaurants with a clearly marked vegan menu.

If you need some inspirations, feel free to check out these articles I’ve written:

And if you want to make your Japan trip as effortless as possible, check out my book The Vegan Foodie Guide To Japan where I covered 7 major cities with 132+ vegan friendly cafes and restaurants.

Payment Methods

Cash is king but so is IC card.

IC cards are prepaid transit cards that you can use for taking public transport, but most businesses also accept IC card as a payment method. Except for some small businesses, paying with IC card means you don’t have to carry around a wallet full of coins.

You can get an IC card at almost all train stations, and charge your card at any train station or convenience store.

That being said, cash is still important in Japan. I recommend taking out cash using the ATMs that are found in basically all convenience stores.

Getting Around

Getting around is not as difficult as people may think. Google Maps is your best friend for navigating Japan’s extensive rail system. Pay special attention to the station, line and the destination of the train.

When catching a train, always verify the line code and colour (for example, the Tokyo Yamanote Line is a green “JY” line), and final destination listed on the train are correct. When I was going to Universal Studios Japan, there were trains going to 4 different destinations on just one platform. Carefully check all the details to avoid backtracking.

When you are at the destination station, if it is a big station like Tokyo or Shinjuku, pay attention to the exit number (e.g. exit A5) to minimise the chance of getting lost.

Is JR Pass Still Worth It?

As of October 2023, the nationwide JR Rail Pass no longer makes sense for most situation as the price increased by about 60%. However, regional passes can still be economical for certain situations.

For example, if you’re staying in Osaka and wants to do day-trips in Hiroshima and Okayama, a JR Kansai-Hiroshima pass would be worth it.

I’d recommend using an online JR Pass calculator specifying your target cities to determine whether it’s worth it to buy a particular pass.

Some Other Small Tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking a lot.
  • If you see restaurants with a raised entrance and a shoe cupboard, then it’s likely you need to take off your shoes before entering.
  • Carry a small plastic bag with you to hold your rubbish as there aren’t many bins on the street.
  • Use coin locker at train stations if you don’t want to carry your bags or luggage around.

Hope you find these helpful and have an amazing trip in Japan!

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