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 a ‘Shojin ryori for vegans and vegetarians with Tempura’ class with Yoko and her family and it was soo good. Shojin ryori is traditional Japanese temple food influenced by Zen Buddhism. Including a photo 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
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? 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 a Japan Times 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. (The forum won’t let me link it here for some reason, I’ll try adding it to the comments.) 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!