This past Saturday and Sunday I went on a special “test” tour marketed towards vegan/vegetarian-inclined in Nagahama in Shiga Prefecture. We ate extremely well. The menus featured local, seasonal vegetables, and each dish was flavorful and delicious. In addition to the delicious meals and the beautiful weather, we stayed at an amazing ryokan, learned yoga and made crafts, and were able to do some sightseeing.



View of Lake Biwa from our ryokan (the small island in the center is called Chikubu Island). 旅館からの眺めが良かったです!晴れで、竹生島も見えました。

Traveling around Japan can seem intimidating and problematic for vegans and special dietary needs. All of the vegan food we got to eat on this trip was specially prepared by the restaurants and ryokan we stayed at. Essentially, this food is not normally served to customers, however, I think this weekend was a great example of how restaurants and hotels/inns in Japan actually do accommodate special dietary requests.



The French-inspired course lunch at Biwako Restaurant ROKU ( was fantastic. Dessert (not pictured) was matcha almond milk ice cream and strawberry sauce.



Dinner at the ryokan was another fantastic course (10 courses!) meal. A highlight was the shiitake grill, when we had to cut the mushrooms off the stump. We stayed at Beniayu, an upscale ryokan, right on the edge of Lake Biwa. (


IMG_5328 Good morning nori from the ryokan! のりも頂きました。


In the morning, we had a Japanese-style breakfast with rice porridge and a vegetable buffet (among other dishes!).



Our final meal was lunch at restaurant at a local recreation center ( near Lake Yogo.



At the end of the tour, we happened to make it to the final day of the plum blossom bonsai exhibit at the Keiunkan.



To go along with the food theme of the tour, we also made some chopsticks from sakura wood. I tried my best and decided to go for a natural look.


IMG_5329 Our transport was also helping spread the word. バスの表。

I had an amazing time and feel incredibly fortunate to have gone on the tour. While the tour I went on was a trial run and I don’t know when or if it will be offered again, I thought it was fantastic. Although everything on this tour was prearranged and planned, I believe with some planning and research, it is definitely possible to travel and eat well in Japan even without a tour group or company.