The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants to explore in Japan

As we become increasingly aware of the environmental and health benefits of plant-based diets, Japan—a country renowned for its rich culinary traditions—is seeing a remarkable evolution in its food scene. Once known primarily for its seafood and meat-centric dishes, Japan is now embracing vegan and vegetarian cuisine, offering an array of options that blend traditional flavors with modern dietary preferences.

We explore some of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants across Japan, from the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the historic alleys of Kyoto, and down to the lively markets of Osaka. 

Whether you’re a strict vegan, a vegetarian, or simply curious about plant-based eating, Japan’s diverse culinary scene has something to offer. We’ll also provide essential tips for navigating Japan as a vegan or vegetarian, ensuring you can enjoy delicious meals that align with your dietary needs without missing out on the authentic Japanese dining experience.

Let’s uncover the top dining spots, and seasonal and regional specialties, and offer practical advice for making the most of your culinary adventures in Japan. Whether you’re planning a trip or just dreaming of Japanese flavors, this guide is your gateway to a vibrant and flavorful plant-based journey.

The Challenges of Vegan and Vegetarian Dining in Japan

When exploring Japan’s culinary delights, vegan and vegetarian travelers face unique challenges. The intricate blend of Japan’s traditional diet includes seafood and meat derivatives as common ingredients, even in seemingly vegetarian dishes. Understanding these challenges can greatly enhance your dining experience.

Hidden Non-Vegetarian Ingredients

Dashi: A common broth in many Japanese dishes, dashi is often made from fish flakes. Vegetarians should inquire about the broth base in soups, stews, and noodle dishes.

Seasonings: Many sauces and seasonings, like Worcestershire sauce used in Okonomiyaki, typically contain fish products. Soy sauce is safe but always double-check for added ingredients.

Language Barrier: Menus in Japan are frequently only in Japanese. Learning a few phrases to explain dietary restrictions can be incredibly helpful, such as “Watashi wa vegan desu” (I am vegan) or “Niku to sakana o tabemasen” (I do not eat meat or fish).

Kanji for Meat and Fish: Recognizing the kanji characters for meat (肉) and fish (魚) can help when scanning menus.

Tips for a Smooth Dining Experience

Travel Cards: Carry a card that explains your dietary needs in Japanese to show at restaurants.

Mobile Apps: Utilize apps like HappyCow or Google Translate to identify and communicate your dietary preferences.

Tokyo, a bustling metropolis known for its innovative cuisine, offers a remarkable array of vegan and vegetarian dining options. Here’s a closer look at some of the standout restaurants that cater to plant-based preferences.

T’s Tantan

Location: Tokyo Station  

Highlights: A vegan haven for noodle lovers, T’s Tantan specializes in delicious, animal-free versions of Japan’s beloved ramen. Situated conveniently within Tokyo Station, it’s a must-visit for travelers looking for quick, hearty meals before catching their train.

Brown Rice

Location: Omotesando  

Highlights: Dedicated to whole foods, Brown Rice provides a tranquil retreat in the heart of Tokyo. Their menu features organic ingredients meticulously sourced from local farms, focusing on nutritious and wholesome vegan dishes. The serene atmosphere and thoughtful plating make dining here a peaceful experience.

Ain Soph Journey

Location: Shinjuku  

Highlights: Nestled in bustling Shinjuku, Ain Soph Journey offers a cozy dining atmosphere with a menu that surprises and delights. Famous for its ‘Heavenly Pancakes’ and a diverse array of vegan dishes from curries to tortillas, this spot proves that vegan food can be decadent and satisfying.

Falafel Brothers

Location: Roppongi  

Highlights: Bringing Middle Eastern flavors to Tokyo, Falafel Brothers serves up some of the best vegan falafels in the city. Their casual setup is perfect for quick bites, with a menu that also includes wraps, salads, and sweet vegan treats.

These highlighted restaurants showcase just a fraction of Tokyo’s vegan and vegetarian offerings, each bringing unique flavors and experiences that promise to satisfy plant-based diets while offering a glimpse into Japan’s culinary innovations.

Kyoto’s Plant-based Dining

Kyoto, with its rich cultural heritage and strong ties to traditional Japanese cuisine, also embraces the evolving preferences of modern diners by offering a variety of plant-based dining options. Here’s an overview of some of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Kyoto that are sure to delight both locals and visitors alike.


Location: Kamigyō-ku  

Highlights: Known for its commitment to organic and macrobiotic principles, Itadakizen serves traditional Japanese vegan dishes. Their menu includes vegan sushi, noodles, and a renowned tofu steak, all prepared using locally sourced ingredients to ensure freshness and authenticity.

Ain Soph Journey Kyoto

Location: Higashiyama  

Highlights: This extension of the popular Ain Soph chain offers a serene dining experience near the heart of Kyoto’s cultural district. The restaurant is famous for its expansive menu that includes everything from heavenly pancakes to intricate salad bowls and heartwarming soups.

Zirael Vegan Restaurant

Location: Higashiyama Gionmachi  

Highlights: Zirael provides a creative take on vegan cuisine with a menu that heavily features local Kyoto vegetables. This spot is particularly noted for its daily-changing lunch menu, offering dishes like gluten-free dumplings and freshly made soups and salads.

Hobodo Cafe

Location: Sakyō-ku  

Highlights: Hobodo Cafe doubles as a bookshop and offers a cozy ambiance perfect for enjoying a casual meal. Their menu, which changes frequently, includes various set meals comprised of miso soup, salads, and tofu dishes, paired with Japanese sweets and coffee.

Each restaurant in Kyoto offers a unique twist on vegan and vegetarian cuisine, ensuring that every meal is not only nourishing but also a reflection of traditional Japanese culinary arts. This combination of culture and cuisine makes Kyoto a must-visit destination for plant-based food enthusiasts.

Vegan and Vegetarian Options in Osaka

Osaka, Japan’s vibrant culinary hub, is well-known for its street food and hearty dishes. Despite its reputation for flavors like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, which traditionally include meat and seafood, Osaka offers an impressive array of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Here are some top picks that cater to plant-based diets without compromising on taste.

Paprika Shokudo Vegan

Location: Downtown Osaka  

Highlights: This restaurant transforms traditional Osaka dishes into vegan delights. Paprika Shokudo Vegan offers a creative menu featuring vegan pizzas, salads, and Japanese set menus. Their vegan cakes are a hit for dessert, making it a popular spot for both lunch and dinner.

Green Earth

Location: Central Osaka  

Highlights: Green Earth serves a wide variety of plant-based dishes from around the world. The menu includes everything from Indian curries to Italian pastas, all prepared without animal products. It’s a great spot for those looking to enjoy global flavors in a vegan format.


Location: Nishinari Ward  

Highlights: Focusing on vegan renditions of Taiwanese cuisine, Saijiki offers an array of dumplings, noodles, and spring rolls. The fully vegan menu and the casual dining atmosphere make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.


Location: Near Noda Station  

Highlights: Matsuri is notable not only for its vegan options but also for its halal certification. This restaurant serves a variety of Japanese classics, including vegan ramen and okonomiyaki, prepared without any animal products. It’s a great option for vegans looking for an authentic taste of Japanese cuisine.

Osaka’s diverse vegan and vegetarian options showcase the city’s dynamic approach to catering to all dietary preferences, ensuring that every visitor can enjoy its rich culinary culture.

Exploring Other Regions

While Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are the go-to cities for many travelers, Japan’s other regions also offer unique and delightful vegan and vegetarian dining experiences. From the northern reaches of Hokkaido to the subtropical islands of Okinawa, each area presents its own culinary twists on plant-based cuisine.


Hokkaido’s cold climate is perfect for growing a variety of organic vegetables. Restaurants here often feature dishes made from local produce like root vegetables and legumes. Vegan and vegetarian visitors will find cozy eateries in Sapporo that serve hearty soups and stews, ideal for the winter months.


Okinawa is famous for its longevity and the healthiness of its traditional diet, which includes a lot of fresh vegetables and tofu. Vegan restaurants in Naha and other parts of the island offer tropical dishes influenced by Southeast Asian and traditional Ryukyuan flavors.


Shikoku, known for its pilgrimage routes, also offers vegetarian-friendly temple cuisine. Pilgrims can enjoy shojin ryori (traditional Buddhist cuisine) which is entirely plant-based and focuses on seasonal ingredients.


Tohoku, despite its rugged terrain, hosts several vegan-friendly spots, especially in cities like Sendai. Local specialties often include mountain vegetables and plant-based versions of regional dishes like zunda (edamame paste).

This exploration of Japan’s diverse regions highlights that vegan and vegetarian dining is not just confined to its major cities but is a growing trend across the country, reflecting a broader shift towards health-conscious eating and sustainable living.

Seasonal and Regional Specialties

Japan’s diverse climate zones contribute to a rich variety of seasonal and regional specialties that cater to vegan and vegetarian diets. Here’s an overview of how the seasons and different regions influence plant-based culinary offerings across Japan.


Cherry Blossom Season: Many cafes and restaurants offer sakura-themed dishes, such as sakura mochi (rice cakes wrapped in cherry leaves) which are often vegan. This is a perfect time to enjoy the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms along with seasonal vegan treats.


Obon Festival Foods: During this Buddhist event to honor the spirits of ancestors, you’ll find vegan-friendly options like somen noodles and grilled vegetables at food stalls.


Harvest Time: Autumn is the season for mushrooms, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Vegan dishes using these ingredients are plentiful, reflecting the harvest in hearty soups, tempura, and stews.


Citrus Season: Winter is the time for citrus fruits, such as yuzu, which are used in various vegan dishes and desserts to add a fresh, tangy flavor.

Regional Culinary Influences

Northern Japan (Hokkaido and Tohoku)

  • Hokkaido: Known for its extensive agriculture, vegan dishes often feature local crops like potatoes, corn, and beans, especially in soups and curries.
  • Tohoku: Offers vegan versions of local specialties like yamabushi nabe (mountain vegetable hot pot), which is warming during the cold winters.

Central Japan (Chubu and Kansai)

  • Chubu (Nagano): Famous for soba noodles, which are often served cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot broth, both of which can be made vegan.
  • Kansai (Kyoto): The cultural capital is renowned for kaiseki ryori, a multi-course meal that includes seasonal vegan dishes under the influence of Buddhist temple cuisine.

Western and Southern Japan (Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa)

  • Chugoku (Hiroshima): Offers unique vegan okonomiyaki (savory pancake) made without the traditional egg and seafood fillings.
  • Okinawa: Tofu is a staple here, notably in dishes like goya champuru, which can easily be made vegan by omitting the usual pork and using tofu and bitter melon.

Tips for Vegan and Vegetarian Travelers in Japan

Navigating Japan’s culinary landscape as a vegan or vegetarian can be a delightful experience with the right knowledge and preparation. 

Here are some essential tips to enhance your dining experiences:

Learn Key Phrases

Language Barrier: Knowing a few basic Japanese phrases can greatly help in restaurants. Phrases like “肉を食べません” (I do not eat meat) and “ヴィーガンです” (I am vegan) clarify your dietary restrictions. Carrying a written note or a digital card in Japanese explaining your diet can also be very useful.

Use Technology

Mobile Apps: Apps like HappyCow and VegOut are invaluable for locating vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Japan. Google Translate can also assist in reading menus and signs, or in communicating with restaurant staff.

Research Restaurants

Plan Ahead: Before traveling, research and list vegan or vegetarian restaurants in the areas you plan to visit. Websites and travel blogs often have up-to-date recommendations and reviews that can guide your choices.

Understand Local Cuisine

Hidden Ingredients: Familiarize yourself with common ingredients in Japanese cuisine that may not be vegan or vegetarian, such as fish sauce (dashi) and bonito flakes. Asking about ingredients and preparation methods is essential, especially in traditional eateries.

Stay Flexible

Convenience Stores: Japan’s convenience stores (konbini) often have accidentally vegan snacks and meals, like onigiri (rice balls) with seaweed or pickled plum, and various noodle dishes. Checking ingredients is crucial, as some items may contain fish flakes or small amounts of meat.

Cultural Respect

Respect and Patience: Always approach dietary restrictions with politeness and respect for the local culture. Patience and understanding go a long way in ensuring a positive interaction with restaurant staff and locals.

Travel with Supplies

Bring Essentials: Consider packing some vegan or vegetarian staples, like protein bars or instant meals, especially if you’re planning to visit rural or less touristy areas where plant-based options might be limited.

Engage with Local Communities

Vegan Events and Meetups: Participating in local vegan events or meetups can enhance your travel experience and provide insider tips on the best places to eat.

By employing these tips, vegan and vegetarian travelers can fully enjoy Japan’s rich culinary offerings without compromising their dietary preferences.


Exploring the vegan and vegetarian culinary scene in Japan is a journey as enriching as it is delicious. From the bustling streets of Tokyo with its innovative vegan ramen to the serene settings of Kyoto’s temple cuisine, Japan offers a diverse palette of flavors that cater to plant-based diets. Osaka’s hearty street food transformed into vegan delights and the regional specialties from Hokkaido to Okinawa showcase the adaptability and creativity of Japanese cuisine.

As Japan continues to embrace vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, the options for plant-based dining will only grow, making it an increasingly welcoming destination for travelers with dietary restrictions. By utilizing the tips provided, such as learning key Japanese phrases and leveraging mobile apps, vegan and vegetarian travelers can navigate Japan’s culinary landscape with ease.

Have these insights into Japan’s vegan and vegetarian culinary scenes inspired you to explore more? If so, we would love to hear from you! Share your experiences, tips, or any delightful vegan and vegetarian spots you’ve discovered in Japan in the comments below. Your insights could help fellow travelers navigate their culinary journey more smoothly.

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The information provided in this article was accurate at the time of publication. However, it's important to note that dates, times, fees, and other related details are subject to change without prior notice. We will always make every effort to update the information whenever possible.

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