Tip for vegans traveling/living in Japan

meib

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Just wanted to send a quick tip to fellow vegans who are living or traveling to Japan. I live in Tokyo, and I definitely know the struggle of being vegan here… Though while in Japan I obviously want to enjoy its incredible food culture without having to worry about the inclusion of dashi or fish powder or other animal products, which can be a challenge…

But I participated in my first airKitchen class recently – airKitchen is basically Airbnb but for cooking classes in Japan for foreigners/travelers. You learn how to cook Japanese dishes from Japanese hosts in their homes, and there are a TON of veg-friendly cooking classes in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto… so not only do you learn how to make vegan sushi, ramen, bento, or whatever else you’re interested in, but you get this rare opportunity to visit a local’s home and share this intimate cultural exchange experience with your host! After cooking everything, you sit down and enjoy the meal with your host which was definitely a highlight.

I tried out this Shojin ryori for vegans and vegetarians with Tempura with Yoko and her family and it was soo good. Shojin ryori is traditional Japanese temple food influenced by Zen Buddhism. Including some pictures below! My favorite parts of the experience definitely included:
  • Conversing with Yoko, her husband, and adorable child (who shares the same name as me)
  • Catching a glimpse of an ordinary Japanese home/kitchen/life
  • Learning about vegan-friendly Japanese ingredients and receiving recipes to take home with me (and replicate)
  • Yoko's AMAZING homemade umeboshi, miso, and shoyu-mugi-koji – all yummy Japanese vegan fermented/pickled ingredients!
Here are the vegan classes in Tokyo: https://airkitchen.me/list/tokyo/vegan.php
Vegetarian classes here: https://airkitchen.me/list/tokyo/vegetarian_special.php

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I’d love to hear others advice/tips for us vegans and vegetarians when it comes to Japan – maybe we can make this a collaborative thread? Another resource I lean on heavily is Is it vegan (Japan)? Happy to answer any questions about my airKitchen experience and otherwise when it comes to vegan living here.

And wanted to add a little disclaimer that I do work part-time for airKitchen here in Tokyo. However, I found airKitchen through this article AirKitchen Plus: A new way to find vegan and vegetarian food in Japan, which spurred me to reach out to them and join the team when I moved to Tokyo a few months ago. So while I do have an obvious connection to airKitchen, I’m genuinely excited about what the service offers both travelers and hosts in terms of cultural exchange and culinary experience – especially for vegans like myself. Japanese food is so good, and no one should have to miss out while they’re here. Which is why I wanted to share it with others in the vegan community!
 
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Forest Nymph

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How fun. I have considered teaching ESL in China as an alternative to staying here forever (you know coming back to NorCal in a year or two) but some concerning things involve coronavirus and the tendency of some East Asians to eat animals like they're shopping in a pet store. I've watched videos about how you can be vegan in China. But I'm so nervous. About coronavirus. WHICH CAME FROM EATING ANIMALS.
 

Andy_T

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Just wanted to send a quick tip to fellow vegans who are living or traveling to Japan. I live in Tokyo, and I definitely know the struggle of being vegan here… Though while in Japan I obviously want to enjoy its incredible food culture without having to worry about the inclusion of dashi or fish powder or other animal products, which can be a challenge…

Meib, thank you for your interesting post.

Have you heard of the awesome Japanese vegan blogger "iina" who has some great ideas how to replicate sushi?


I recently bought her book "Sushi Modoki", but have not yet tried out any of the recipes.
 
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Forest Nymph

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FN, that sounds interesting, what is ESL? English Sign Language?

Yes I am so interested in Ancient Chinese culture, really the sources of Taoism, Chinese folk nature worship and ecology, Chinese Buddhism, and of course the implications of the China Study (that naive, rural Chinese people actually eat very little animal products so live in a natural harmony or respect with nature and other creatures). I also think it's interesting how ancient Asian empires really overlap European empires in many ways (which dispels the "whypepo" myth that there's something spectacularly exploitative or racist about people of European descent).

Plus it would simply be a powerful experience to live in a very different culture, to be able to visit other Asian countries while I was there, and teaching English as a Second Language empowers the Chinese who are actually making greater strides in renewable energy than we are.

But I also can't see myself living in a place where people indiscriminately eat many other animals as "delicacies" or in a place that might be quarantined by plagues. It's impossible to travel to or from China at the moment. What if I had gone directly there after graduation instead of to grad school? I think about things like that, because I considered it. I interviewed with an ESL school via video chat less than a year ago.
 
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meib

meib

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Meib, thank you for your interesting post.

Have you heard of the awesome Japanese vegan blogger "iina" who has some great ideas how to replicate sushi?


I recently bought her book "Sushi Modoki", but have not yet tried out any of the recipes.

Thanks! I have not heard of her iina but will check her out. Thanks for the tip! :)