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Vegetarian in Tokyo?

Are you a vegetarian looking for dining options in Tokyo?  If so, then you will definitely want to try shojin ryori, the traditional food of Zen monks in Japan, which is pure vegan and is in rooted in Buddhist teachings dating back to the 13th century. 

A shojin ryori meal consists of seasonable vegetables and wild plants accompanied by with seaweed, miso soup, rice, soybean curd (tofu), seeds and nuts.  This simple style of cooking limits the use of sauces and seasonings and highlights the distinct flavors of each fresh ingredients.

Some temples in the Tokyo area serve shojin ryori to the public or you can choose from one of the vegetarian restaurants listed on the Tokyo Food Page or at Happy Cow.  Another resource for vegetarians visiting is the Tokyo Vegetarian Guide which offers restaurants listings and a variety of other information that is a bit dated but otherwise useful.

For those days when a restaurant serving vegetarian cuisine isn’t available, or conveniently located, you will want to review these useful Japanese words and phrases for vegetarians.  For example, if you want to say “I am a vegetarian”, the correct Japanese phrase is “Watashiwa bejitarian desu” and if you want to say “I don’t eat any meat” you would use the phrase “Watashiwa onikuga taberaremasen“.  The listing also includes the kanji for these and other phrases which will come in handy if you find pronouncing Japanese words difficult.

I am not a vegetarian but I have eaten many meatless meals in restaurants throughout the city.  While I cannot say with certainty that these meals met the standards of a truly vegetarian or vegan diet, I can tell you that finding them wasn’t difficult and that they were delicious.

Image Credit:  Flickr, Ekoin temple – Shôjin-ryôri Dinner (at 5:30pm)