This is by no means a complete list of Japanese vegetarian foods, so do weigh in if you have a favorite that we’ve skipped!
Known to many in the English-speaking world simply as rice balls, onigiri are as much a part of daily life in Japan as sandwiches are in the West.
Although they’re often eaten as snacks or included along with a handful of other items as a packed lunch, for many Japanese onigiri are the ultimate comfort food; something that, no matter which part of the country they find themselves in, they can easily make or pick up from a convenience store.Of course, store-bought onigiri can never come close to those pressed into shape by someone who knows their way around a rice cooker, but they always hit the spot nevertheless, and hundreds of thousands of these little lumps of savoury goodness are eaten every single day.▼ Senbei (rice crackers) are often served with green tea. Sansai (mountain vegetables): Japanese mountain vegetables such as warabi and bracken make wonderful pickings, but since they are more often a part of Japanese kaiseki (haute cuisine), they aren’t always available in regular restaurants.Tip: Japanese people understand the English word rice, but it almost always refers to foreign rice. If you do get an opportunity to try them however, don’t miss the chance!Try the Kikkoman brand in a bright green carton, which can be picked up in 200-milliliter (6.8-ounce) one-serving boxes at any Japanese convenience store, made out of nice, biodegradable paper. Nori seaweed (and kelp) 海苔 The varieties of edible seaweed and kelp are overwhelming, and most likely, you’ve never heard of many of them: hijiki, tokoroten, aonori, as well as the more familiar konbu and wakame. ▼ Mozuku, a type of seaweed from Okinawa, is fried together with vegetables here and served like tempura.
Used in sauces and soups, served as a side, a dessert (tokorten) or on top of salads, seaweed and kelp are nutritious and delicious. Tip: Japanese seaweed is a great gift to take back home.Even now, the traditional Buddhist meal called ozen (rice, miso soup, pickles, boiled/simmered vegetables and beans), is still served at funerals in Japan. In this article we’ll introduce you to common Japanese dishes that can be ordered at almost any Japanese restaurant that have no meat, fish or animal products in them, so, let’s jump into Japanese vegetarianism 101.So traditionally, there is a lot of vegetarian food in the Japanese diet. Most people in Japan who eat meat also eat lots of vegetarian food–they just don’t realize it!To make matters worse, many foods in convenience stores, bakeries or even Starbucks have misleading labels, and that “vegetable sandwich,” or “vegetable pizza” may actually have meat in it too!You can order foods like okonomiyaki or monjayaki with no meat, but you still can’t be sure it won’t come with shredded fish flakes on top that there isn’t fish lurking in the dashi-based sauces.Tip: In Tokyo near Shinjuku Station try the Tsunahachi tempura restaurant. Kushimono 串物 Kushimono, or skewered food, is readily available in Japan. Tip: The purpose of tsukemono is to clean the pallet, balance out the umami flavors in a Japanese meal, and to help balance the meal psychedelically as, according to Japanese haute cuisine, meals are supposed to contain 5 colors: black, red, yellow, green, and white. Daikon 大根 The daikon radish is so versatile it can be served pickled (tsukemono, takuan), boiled (oden), shredded (with sashimi), eaten as a salad (daikon salad). Daikon is also the most consumed vegetable in Japan as well as one of the most intelligent.