questions & answers: general japan travel

japanese language & vegetarians

Japanese language & Vegetarians

Is it possible to travel thru Japan without knowing the language?

If we r 18 people, is it possible to find a homestay-like acco. where we can cook at least one Indian meal.
So we also save and eat what we are used to? For we r strict vegetarians.

Rekha Barve
Rekha Barve

Hi there!

Here are some (by no means comprehensive) answers for you:

Travelling with limited Japanese language

It is very possible, however a little Japanese will go a long way. The more you know in advance the easier your trip will be. Although all Japanese learn English in high school, many have not had much speaking practice so as you get further from Tokyo you'll find less and less english speakers (even though they may understand what you are asking them!). I recommend buying a good phrasebook as a basic need.

Vegetarian food in Japan

You should also get well versed in asking for vegetarian specific food. You will be able to find vegetarian menu in non vegetarian restaurants but it is better to ask staff whether they use bonito stock or not. Most Japanese cuisine uses Bonito (fish) stock and the concept of full vegetarianism (100% no meat and fish) is not very well known in Japan. While you are using your Japan Rail Pass you'll find a lot of station food may appear to be vegetarian (eg, seaweed based), but will actually contain some bonito flavourings. If you are in doubt, I recommend you to ask the kiosk staff before you purchase or prepare some food yourself before you get on your train.

If you are looking for cooking facilities as you are travel and don't intend to stay in a single location for more than a day or so, the best option is to look at Youth Hostels. The Japanese Youth Hostel system is excellent, very clean and very well run. Many (most?) YH will have cooking facilities also for you to prepare food as you need. If you're wanting to cook an indian meal at least once per day I recommend you bring spices and seasoning with you as this may be hard to source in Japan. Here is more information on the YH system in Japan.

Although vegetarianism isn't massively popular in Japan, there are still some great vegetarian restaurants you can try to get a flavour of Japan. Here are some vegetarian restaurant recommendations in Japan as a guide:

Tokyo

Kyoto

  • This restaurant in Kyoto is popular and if you book in advance, vegetarian menu is also available. I am sure Hotel staff will help you to book the restaurant.
  • Seigen in

Hiroshima

I hope this helps!

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mari
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