Yes There Really Is a Vegan Japan!

Here’s a fun writeup by Vegan Kalamazoo co-organizer Hillary Rettig about her recent trip to Japan. If you’ve had some good vegan food while traveling, please tell us about it!

Japan, the home of sushi and Kobe beef, is often considered unfriendly to vegans, but things are changing! My partner Jan Tobochnik and I visited for nearly three weeks, and in all of the major cities we had several vegan restaurants to choose from, which we usually found by searching on HappyCow. Here are three of the highlights:

Vegan ramen soup in Tokyo. Real ramen isn’t anything like the little packages of dried noodles we see here in the U.S.–it’s a robust blend of veggies, noodles, tofu, and spices that you can make a whole meal out of. Unfortunately, even “veggie” ramen is almost always made with fish broth, so most ramen is off limits to vegans. Imagine our surprise, then, to find a 100% vegan ramen place, Tam T’s, right in Tokyo’s main train station! The ramen was amazing, and there was almost always a line–nevertheless, we ate there several times!

A tofu taster’s menu in Hiroshima. We had an extraordinary “chef’s menu” at the Hiroshima location of Umenohana, a fancy restaurant chain. It featured around ten dishes, each one a different virtuoso preparation of tofu. The meal began with a pristine black rectangle of black-sesame-seed tofu; later came a dish of superdense tofu “pearls” in soup, some tofu “film,” and tofu “string cheese.” The waitress even made fresh tofu right at our table in a chafing dish! Dessert was yummy flavored tofu-and-miso lollipops.







“Monk’s Food” at Koyasan monastery. In Japan you can stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery, and partake of vegan meals served by monks. (In fact, one Japanese equivalent for “vegan” is “monk food.”) We stayed at a monastery at the top of beautiful-but-cold Mount Koya, and had yummy meals of vegetables, tofu, seaweeds, pickles, beans, noodles, and several other dishes.






Eating at the monastery. (Picture from Web.)

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