Vegan Vegetarian Tokyo

This post was an archived version of a two vegetarian and vegan guides to Tokyo created in February, 2016. This information is not actively maintained.

This post provides a list of foods and tips for vegans and vegetarians navigating Tokyo. Below the first sections, you’ll get a list vegetarian and vegan restaurants for Tokyo close to the main areas and attractions. The restaurant list had Reddit contributors.

Japanese Vegetarian Vocabulary

False Friends to Avoid

If you are shopping at the supermarket or ordering, avoid words with the fish character (魚), such as 鮪、鰹節、鯖、鯵. You can also have sushi that looks vegetarian that has minced meat or fish stock mixed in.

Other words to look out for are minced meat (おぼろ oboro), shrimp (海老 ebi), fish cakes (竹輪 chikuwa), soup stock (だし dashi), usually made of bonito flakes and kelp. Fish stock is usually in soup dishes, vegetables in broth, sauces,** soba and udon noodle soy sauce (だし醤油 dashi shoyu), and egg custard (茶碗蒸し chawan mushi), and even in many rice balls (おにぎり onigiri).

Useful Vocabulary in Restaurants:

Japanese Vegetarian Food

Rice balls (おにぎり onigiri)* Select ones

Most rice balls have meat, but there is usually at least one vegetarian option in a convenience store like Family Mart, Lawson, 7/11, Sunkus. Look out for these vegetarian options: 納豆/なっと natto onigiri - fermented soybean rice balls / rice tubes, 梅干しumeboshi onigiri - pickled plum rice balls, 昆布 konbu onigiri -kelp rice balls* (note, this may have fish stock depending on the sauce).

Green Soy Beans 枝豆 Edamame 

In restaurants, edamame are good bets. They are boiled green soy beans sprinkled with salt, and highly nutritious in addition to being addictive!

Soy Milk

Just go to a convenience store (Family Mart, Lawson, 7/11) or supermarket and try. They options are very tasty!

Traditional Japanese Sweets

Many traditional Japanese desserts are vegetarian, and even vegan. Sweet rice cakes, mochi, fu, daifuku are usually round balls made with glutinous rice flower and fillings. Other favourites are a sweet bread roll with red bean anpan, folded cake with red-bean filling dorayaki, sweet steamed bun manjuū, monaka, Japanese fish-shaped cake taiyaki. The fillings are usually include  red bean azuki, green tea macha, roasted soy bean kinako, sesame goma flavours.

Tempura (veggies) 野菜天ぷら yasai tempura

You can specifically ask for vegetable tempura in many restaurants.

Tofu 豆腐

Tofu is a must try in Japan, no matter how much you dislike it in other parts of the world. It can be served boiled yudofu, fried agedofu, skewered, etc. It can come in a variety of flavours, such as sesame seed tofu gomadofu, and textures such as firm momendofu, silken kinedofu, and freeze-dried koyadofu.

Kyoto is one of the best places to find yudofu, which is a regional specialty, and Mount Koya Koya-san, close to Osaka, is the place that developed koyadofu.

Sauteed and Simmered Veggies きんぴら Kinpira

Kinpira is simple and delicious root veggie dish. It is the term for a type of cooking that sautes and simmers root vegetables such as lotus root, carrots, burdock root gobo,  bamboo shoots, hijiki seaweed and tofu in a combination of soy sauce and mirin.

Pickles 漬物 tsukemono

Pickled vegetables often come in small dishes during a meal. Since they were soaked in brine, they are often quite salty, sour or sweet. It can be a vareity of things including leafy greens, daikon, plum, bamboo shoots. You can also buy them at the supermarket and eat them with rice.

Tsukemono help clean the pallet, balance out the fishy flavours and heaviness in other dishes during a meal. According to traditional Japanese fine dining, a complete meal should contain the 5 colors: red, yellow, green, black,and white.

Skewers 串物 Kushimono 

Skewered food is commonly found in night market food alleys or festivals (usually in the summer). Vegetarian options (amongst the many meat ones) include lotus root, mushrooms, green pepper, and okra (lady fingers). Kushiage are items fried on a stick.

大根 Daikon dishes

It can come as daikon salad, shredded underneath sashimi, pickled (tsukemono, takuan), or boiled (oden* which is a fish-stock based soup). Daikon is also the most common vegetables in Japan and grated fresh daikon adds a cool and refreshing touch to some of the heavier (i.e. fried) foods.

Vegetarian Restaurant List

Many of these places are also vegan. You can check the menu first. If you are at an Indian restaurant, some may serve the egg-contained naan bread. This is a consolidation of various lists, and focus on areas that travellers often visit. The areas in bold have links to their Google map location.

Note: The list below and the map do not necessarily correspond. The map has been updated since July 2016.


$=less than 1,000yen $$ = 1,000yen - 3,000yen $$$ = 3,000yen-5,000yen

Akihabara

Sites: Den Den Town, Maid Cafes, Gundam Cafe, Anime & Otaku Shops

Aoyama

Asagaya

Asakusa

Sites: Senso-ji

Kaemon Asakusa Vegan, Japanese, Organic $

Azabujuban / Minami Azabu

Ebisu

Edogawabashi

Ekoda

Gaienmae

Sites: Asakasa Palace, Meiji Jingu National Stadium

Ginza

Sites: A famous shopping area with designer brands. Also close to Tsukiji Market.

Hongo3chome (Hongo-san-chome)**

Sites: Tokyo University, Ueno Park, Ueno Zoo, Koishikawa Garden, Tokyo Dome

Ichigaya

Sites: Yasukuni Shrine

Ikebukuro

Sites: Sunshine City, West Gate Park, (It’s the location for many popular animes, mangas, and novels)

Iriya

Ishikawadai

Jingumae / Meijijingu-Mae (Harajuku)

Sites: Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Harajuku

Kamiyacho

Kanda / Jimbocho

Sites: Jimbocho is famous for its bookstores (mostly Japanese).

Kichijoji

Sites: Studio Ghibli Museum

Kinshicho

Kyobashi

Sites: Ginza, Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace

Marunochi

Sites: Tokyo Station, Imperial Palace

Nakano

Nezu

Nogizaka

Ogikubo

Omotesando

Sites: Meijijingu-Mae, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine (in Yoyogi Park)

Oshiage

Sites: Tokyo Skytree

Roppongi

Sites: Roppongi Hills

Sendagi

Shibuya

Sites: Hachiko Statue, Shibuya Crossing, Tokyu Hands, Yoyogi Park

Shinjuku

Sites: Government Observation Buildings, Yakitori Alley, Shinjuku Ni-Chome

Sugamo

Takadanobaba

Tameikesanno

Toranomonsofa Deli&Cafe (Toranomon), Vegetarian Deli & Cafe $

Ueno

Sites: Ueno Park, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Western Art

Others:

Note: The chain Mos Burger may have a kinpira rice burger on the menu that is vegetarian.**

Sources: Time Out Tokyo, Happy Cow Tokyo, Tsunagu Japan, Veggie Tokyo, Tokyo Vegan’s Club (Japanese)