Vegetarian Food in Japan   ベジタリアン食品

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Brown and white miso

A block of tofu

Shiso leaves

Traditional Japanese ume-boshi

Mother nature on your plate

Japan cultivates a culinary tradition very focused on the use of non-animal products: seasonal vegetables, herbs, citrus, and soy, of course! A paradise for vegetarians.

Thanks to sophisticated maceration and conservation techniques, at the origin of tsukemono, Japanese cuisine provides the foundations of a balanced diet for those not wanting to eat any meat.

The following list provides an overview of typical vegetarian foods in Japanese cuisine. Feel free to refer to it to put together your own Japanese vegetarian meal, accompanied by a bowl of white rice!

Miso: an essential part of Japanese cuisine, miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans. Brown, red or white miso is the basis for the aptly named miso soup that accompanies almost every Japanese meal.

Tofu: also known as bean curd, is made from the curdling of soy milk. Its soft texture and mild taste makes it a popular choice to accompany many dishes, salads or Japanese hot pots. In the past, it used to be bought fresh every morning!

Azuki: this red bean paste is the main ingredient of the majority of Japanese sweets and desserts. Very nutritious, azuki allows the making of traditional cakes without using animal fats.

Satsuma-imo: a sweet potato grown mainly in the south of the country, satsuma-imo is another classic Japanese ingredient that can be both sweet and savory. Today, street vendors travel around towns on cold winter evenings by singing "yaaakiii-iiimo!", and offer you the chance to taste these delicious sweet potatoes baked on hot charcoal.

Shiso: a very aromatic plant, shiso looks just like nettle. But fear not, there is no risk of getting stung. Quite the opposite! Shiso has medicinal properties and a very rich fragrance which makes it a herb of choice to enhance dishes, desserts and even sake!

Ume-boshi: the best for last? This salty preserved plum, varying in color from brown to bright red, is characterized by a very sour and salty taste; a true test of strength for the neophyte! Containing at least 17 ​​substances proven to be beneficial for health, ume-boshi are one of the best Japanese vegetarian ingredients. 

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