Most traditional Japanese supermarkets will have everything you need for cooking and sustaining a healthy lifestyle, but depending on your location, it will likely be difficult to find specialty products that make cooking a lot more convenient.
Vegan-Friendly Supermarkets in Japan
Below are some suggestions for specialty stores and chain supermarkets that sell vegan items and natural products suitable for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
For vegetarian/vegan products, try heading to a Natural House if you can. Natural House is a health store chain with a large selection of organic produce and food products, vegan/vegetarian packaged foods, bread, snacks, desserts, and pre-made meals. As such, most products here tend to be priced much higher than what you will find at a traditional Japanese supermarket. Not everything here is vegan or vegetarian.
Some stores have a deli area where you can find vegan bento, soups, and other delicious snacks great for when you’re on the go.
Most stores are located in Tokyo and the Kanto area, but there are some locations in Kansai as well.
Bio c’ Bon
Bio c’ Bon is a France-based store with some locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa. The stores are known for carrying European imported groceries and having a healthy food selection overall, which includes a generous selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly ingredients and snacks, like instant ramen, vegetable broths, and all varieties of plant-based milk.
If you are near one of the shops, definitely stop in as you’ll probably find some unique and delicious snacks to try.
Bio c’ Bon (Japanese): https://www.bio-c-bon.jp/
Seijo Ishii is a large chain of middle-to-high-end supermarkets with locations across Japan. Although it doesn’t have a particularly large selection of vegan food, it is a convenient choice when shopping for certain items, like vegan-friendly bread, certain curries and pre-packaged foods, and snacks.
Seijo Ishii also carries a lot of imported products, which are sometimes, plant-based based, too.
Seijo Ishii stores (English): http://www.seijoishii.co.jp/shop/
Gyomu Super is a supermarket located throughout Japan, specializing in discount food products and imported goods. Due to this, you will probably be able to find a variety of ingredients not normally found at the common supermarket, from rice noodles to spicy chili sauce, to peanut butter–at very reasonable prices.
Gyomu Super also sometimes has vegan-certified products, such as vegan-friendly bolognese pasta sauce with soy meat and vegan-friendly instant ramen.
Gyomu Super site (English): https://www.gyomusuper.jp/english/
Natural Lawson is a spinoff branch of Lawson, one of Japan’s major three convenience stores (conbini). Unlike other convenience stores, Natural Lawson carries a lot of organic and healthful snacks and ingredients, which can include vegan-friendly items, too. If you happen to pass by one of these convenience stores, be sure to stop in and take a look!
Natural Lawson site (Japanese): https://natural.lawson.co.jp/
Kaldi Coffee Farm
Kaldi is famous for its coffee beans and imported food and snacks. Like Gyomu Super, you will be able to find rare ingredients and sauces needed to cook specialty dishes, and there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly items, marked as vegan or certified vegan. Kaldi is one of the few places in Japan that has sold vegan chocolate.
Kaldi site: https://www.kaldi.co.jp/
Vegan-friendly Labels and Certification in Japan
There is currently no unified vegan or vegetarian mark or certification system in place in Japan, and brands rarely will say “vegan” on them in English or at all, making it difficult to discern which products are friendly or not in Japan.
Some non-profit organizations conduct their own screening of products on a request basis from certain products of a handful of brands. One of the more common vegan marks is from VegeProject Japan:
Vegan-friendly Food Product Brands in Japan
Ohsawa Japan is a macrobiotic food manufacturer that sells a lot of vegetarian and vegan pre-made foods, like the instant ramen below, soup stock, pre-made curries, and more.
Helpful Japanese Terms to Know When Shopping
For food products, however, it really helps to know which Japanese to look out for. Short of reading the ingredients list, a vegan-friendly product may have the following on it:
|ビーガン||Vegan (different spelling)|
|マクロビオティック||Macrobiotic (not necessarily vegan, so you will need to check the ingredients)|
|動物性食材不使用||Contains no animal-derived ingredients|
|肉不使用||Contains no meat|
|卵不使用||Contains no egg|
|乳製品不使用||Contains no dairy products|