In September (late summer) of 2019 I visited my friends and went to a vegan festival in Tokyo. Weather was great, the daily average temperature was 25C (ideal for Singaporeans).
My first stop was Omiya, the commercial centre of Saitama Prefecture that’s located north of Tokyo. Usually tourists just flock to Tokyo and give Saitama a miss. Although there are less attractions there, Saitama is worth a visit if you want to take a break from the city without being too far away from it. And, there were quite a number of delicious vegan eats there!
What I ate in Saitama
From convenience stores
Convenience stores (conbini) in Japan are the epitome of convenience. You can literally live off them as they offer the most affordable ready-to-eat foods. There are quite a number of accidentally vegan food available from each chain. My favourites are Family Mart (famima), Lawson and Natural Lawson (only in Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and Tokyo region).
If you’re heading to Kawagoe (one of the popular attractions), you can have lunch beforehand here. It’s just a couple of stops from Kawagoe station. This old school, cozy sushi restaurant has a whole vegan menu of vegetable and mushroom sushi that used mostly local ingredients. The nice lady serving us even understood vegan before we explained it to her and informed us the miso soup used fish stock. My Japanese friend helped me to translate, so communication wasn’t an issue. The sushi was affordable, exceptionably fresh and well-balanced, didn’t even need soy sauce or extra wasabi. Highly recommend if you’re looking to explore gems outside of Tokyo.
Kawagoe is a well-preserved old town from the Edo period. Although it’s a crowded tourist attraction, it didn’t feel fake or too touristy. The shops sold really unique and quality items.
The famous local produce is sweet potatoes, but I ended up eating so much mochi instead.
A quick search on Vegewel (Japan’s best site for finding plant-based foods that aren’t listed on other sites) shows much more options in Saitama. Will be back!
What I ate in Kawasaki
Kawasaki, located south of Tokyo, is more of an industrial and commercial city. I travelled there to do some shopping (can be cheaper than Tokyo) + eat at this place because I heard fantastic reviews:
Managed to communicate with some broken Japanese. The staff were so friendly and gave me recommendations since I was staring silently at the menu for very long. Wanted to try their sake lees cheesecake but it was sold out. Their poster for it said something like “Our sake lees is made from sake that’s from the Edo period 340 years ago.” Sounds so interesting! Please try it on my behalf when you go, if you can take alcohol 🙂
Also, I found these vegan ready-to-eat products at a supermarket (Tokyu Store) in Shin-maruko. Beyond Tofu (not affiliated with Beyond Meat) is a 60 year-old Japanese brand that makes soy-based vegan cheese. I’ve seen their products in Tokyo supermarkets.
Thanks for reading! Will be sharing my Tokyo vegan finds in the next post. It’ll be long 🙂