Friday, 19 July 2013

Welcome to Japan Vegan

Updated March 2020, as tourist numbers plummet amid the COVID-19 pandemic despite the sakura season.

I started this blog a decade ago as a "sister-blog" to my main blog about vegan life in Taiwan. At that time I was living in Yokohama (near Tokyo), and I wanted to provide some basic starting information for vegans travelling to or living in Japan.

A lot has happened since then. Firstly, Japan has become much more vegan-friendly. While even then Tokyo and Kyoto had some excellent vegan restaurants, and monthly vegan meetups at the Pink Cow, the vegan community would never have dreamed that vegan meals would be introduced to Japanese convenience stores, or that the government would seriously consider introducing a nation-wide vegan and vegetarian labelling system (as of March 2020 it's still under discussion, but probably somewhat shelved during the pandemic).

Secondly, Facebook has all but killed the blogosphere. Most people, especially Millennials, now join Facebook groups to find information rather than using Google. And the platform is so much more interactive than blogs that few people 'follow' them anymore. Nevertheless, some vegans do still google information (it's certainly faster) so I try to keep an up-to-date summary of vegan restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto, and also vegan food options at convenience store.

As for me, I returned to Taiwan five years ago, and published a vegan travel guide to Taiwan, which was successful as it could be given that (regretfully) very few travellers visit Taiwan. But I still visit regularly, and have tried to keep this blog as up-to-date as possible, but naturally my ratings in Google searches have gone down as I haven't been able to update it on a weekly basis as I used to.

Yet despite the rise of Facebook groups and smartphone apps, I've always been saddened by how many vegans (and vegetarians) struggle in Japan, and how a disturbingly large number of would-be vegans 'compromise' because they find it too difficult, mostly by eating products made with fish at 'normal' restaurants in Japan. And it's not that they can't find food: Tokyo and Kyoto have some of the best vegan restaurants in Asia, and Happycow works brilliantly in Japan, thanks to the large numbers of foreign tourists (except during COVID-19!) and a strong vegan community which keep it up-to-date. It's more that vegans (and vegetarians) just don't know how to visit the tourist attractions and restaurants together, usually due to a lack of planning. Furthermore, most travellers (vegan and otherwise) struggle with the public transport system in Japan (as I did when I first arrived), and many just don't know the best places to visit. So this inspired me to write the Japan Vegan Travel Guide, which I finished in early 2020 (which was, unfortunately, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began). Like regular travel guides, it covers all aspects of travel, including tourist attractions, vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, public transport, and everything I can think of a vegan traveller to Japan wanting or needing to know. I hope that with this guidebook vegans (and vegetarians) can visit all the best tourist attractions and their choice of vegan restaurants, with a minimum of planning and effort, and get the most out of their trip to Japan. I also hope that by connecting vegan businesses (which struggle at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic) with tourists who often just don't know where to find them or how to fit them into their itineraries, I can help to support the rise of veganism in Japan.

For more information about the Japan Vegan Travel Guide, please see this video.


Nippon Irashaimashite (Welcome to Japan)! 

2 comments:

  1. I love your blog! I will go to some restaurant you recomended when I travel to Japan again :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This blog is amazingly helpful. I felt like pescatarianism was the only option while over there..

    ReplyDelete

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