One of the countries I would really love to visit and probably will visit soon is Japan. I am excited to post this guest post about how to stay vegan in Japan by Carolyn. Thank you very much for this lovely post!
Japan is one of the most technologically innovative countries. However, it is also a cultural-rich nation with some deep-set traditions. One of these traditions is to do with cuisine – virtually every meal is served with a serving of fish or other meats. For vegans visiting Japan, this poses a great dilemma of whether or not to go with the flow.
However, as unlikely as it may seem, it is possible to stay strictly vegan during your stay in Japan. Here are some helpful tips for staying vegan in Japan.
Most of the restaurants in Japan have menus revolving around fish and beef. In fact, some chefs will be amused if you ask for a completely vegan dish. However, there are some restaurants that make exceptions for vegans and especially tourists.
Look up vegan restaurants online before traveling and review their menus. It also helps to talk with other vegans who have visited Japan in the past to get tips on where to eat.
Visit a Temple, Enjoy a Meal
A temple is the ultimate sanctuary for a vegan visiting Japan. Monks acknowledge people’s preferences when it comes to eating. They also have a deep knowledge of different foods and drinks. What’s more, they do not mind preparing a delicious and creative vegan meal for tourists. Their meals are unlike any other vegan dish you have ever had thanks to their ancient knowledge of food preparation.
There are temples all over Japan, but the ideal temples for vegans are located in Kyoto and Koya-San; these temples are so accommodative that you can even spend the night and wake up to a vegan breakfast.
Stay in Kyoto
Kyoto is one of those unique places in Japan where eating culture is more diverse. It is especially suitable for vegans because of its heritage. Kyoto is an ancient Japanese capital that is associated with the special and entirely vegan Zen Buddhist cuisine. To this end, there are numerous vegan restaurants in and around Kyoto and the food is great. There are also cooking classes that you can sign up for to take the recipes home.
After all, Kyoto is a beautiful place to explore as its ancient heritage has been preserved to date. It is home to over 2000 temples and shrines, and the artifacts will make your travel worthwhile.
Ditch the Hotels Altogether
The language and cultural barriers make it difficult to order vegan dishes in hotels and restaurants. However, you have a better bargaining position when staying in a ryokan; a hosting family or traditional inn. It is much like booking with a Bed n’ Breakfast in the U.S., but you can have lunch and dinner too for days on end as long as you pay.
The small scale operations of a ryokan make it easier to order special vegan meals without much trouble. You will also enjoy better services and privacy compared to when staying in big hotels, and you will leave Japan having made friends with your hosts.
Do it Yourself
Self-catering sounds like a dream for vegans traveling to Japan. However, it will remain to be a dream if you do not have a rented room with cooking appliances and utensils. As such, it is important to book into hotels that provide these essentials to enjoy this privilege.
Self-catering will be a breeze with everything you need in hand. Japan’s food market is diverse and features a wide range of vegetables and fruits. There are also some unique vegan recipes in Japan that will guide you through cooking delicious meals. Alternatively, you can settle for everyday meals such as noodles which are plenty in Japan.
A Word of Warning
Every strict vegan who has been to Japan is adamant that a 100% vegan dish is a rarity thanks to a special soup called dashi. Dashi is a soup made of edible kelp and dried tuna shavings, and it is served with virtually every meal. Locals consider this a sort-of mandatory soup and are surprised when diners refuse to have it. Some restaurants even mix it with vegetable soup.
If you are a strict vegan who cannot make an exception, then you will be better off eating at vegan-only restaurants. Many vegans ultimately have to be flexible about the soup since it is almost inescapable.
My name is Carolyn Ballard. I’m a passionate traveler and the founder of DesToDis as well.
I created the blog with the main aim to share guidelines, tips and my personal experiences on all things travel. By this way, I hope to inspire and help people to wander around the world safely and easily.