traveling to Japan - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-30-2010, 03:11 PM
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I'm a college student, and I have an amazing opportunity to go to Japan for two weeks next spring! I'm really excited about experiencing the culture, learning about the history, and all that.... But I'm even more excited about the food.

In America, I can go to all kinds of Japanese restaurants and find vegan/vegetarian dishes. However, I'm worried that I won't be able to maintain my diet while I'm overseas, considering the language barrier and reading menus or even if they'll have those options available. =S

I'm wondering if it is a real problem I might encounter (for those with first-hand experience?), or if I should just be a bit more lax while I'm traveling and try new things (even if they aren't entirely vegan/vegetarian).

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#2 Old 03-30-2010, 03:17 PM
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My thought is that of jealousy over your amazing opportunity to go to Japan.

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#3 Old 03-30-2010, 03:22 PM
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I know!! At my college, we have this program that sends juniors and seniors to countries of their choice (they offer certain ones every year) with a couple of their professors. It's funded by big grants and endowments, so each student only has to pay about $600 to go.
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#4 Old 03-30-2010, 04:02 PM
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I lived in Japan for a year and taught English - it was an amazing experience.. I was vegetarian at the time (not vegan) but I had no problem with food and it was absolutely delicious. I remember my favourites were yasai gyoza and yasai tempura. Just learn how to say no meat, no fish. However, as a vegan I think it might be more difficult in Japan as nearly all vegetarian dishes have egg in it.. However, I found restaurants etc. to be very accomodating when I lived there. Japan is an amazing country: where will you be going?
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#5 Old 03-30-2010, 04:24 PM
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YOU LUCKY LIL DUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to go to Japan on cool college grants and pay rediculously low prices! lol, I do agree with Dutchvegan though, spend five minutes on a translator website and learn how to say, "Im vegan, no animal products". Good luck!

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#6 Old 03-30-2010, 09:15 PM
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I have been living in Japan for nearly two years, about 5 months as a vegan and the rest of the time as a vegetarian with limited eggs and dairy. If you're going to be in big cities, it'll be easier. More people speak English, and there are more veggie restaurants and such. Where I live, I have to explain completely wherever I go: No meat, no chicken, no pork, no fish, no fish broth, no fish flakes, no fish cakes, no shrimp, no octopus, no egg, no milk, no cheese, no gelatin. And then they ask, "how about rice? tea? meat that's chopped up small?"

If you need, I can write all that up in Japanese for you and you can print it out and carry it with you. The grammar might not be perfect (I'm not fluent) but they'll get it.

Nearly all soups will be cooked with fish broth if they're Japanese style, and meat broth if they're western soups. Even in, say, Italian restaurants, you need to check for things like fish flakes on spaghetti, cheese put into sauce even though it's not listed on the menu, octopus in salads, etc. If you go to a noodle place, cold noodles are usually safe on the broth front, but the dipping sauce will likely have fish in it, so you need to specify soy sauce only. You also need to assure that they don't cover it in fish flakes. Hot noodles will be served in fish broth or pork broth, unless you can find a place willing to leave it in the plain cooking water and add soy sauce or something to make a broth (I've only found one place near me willing to do so).
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#7 Old 04-01-2010, 10:06 PM
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Nearly all soups will be cooked with fish broth if they're Japanese style,

This will definitely be the most important thing to factor in when eating over in Japan.

Japan is an island and likewise it's big into fishing. When I was in Tokyo, there were a ton of restaurants that served all sorts of soups, noodles and pastas and I guarantee the vast majority of them contained fish. I think I managed to strike it lucky once at a diner when they served soba (it didn't seem to contain fish broth), but that's probably not the norm. Keep an eye out and avoid anything you know to contain "dashi", it's classic Japanese fish broth, bonito, fish flakes, is also something to watch out for. I would personally be very weary with your restaurant visits. OR stock up on two weeks worth of Japanese convenience store goodies.

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#8 Old 04-03-2010, 08:20 AM
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Thanks, guys! Luckily, I'll be going with at least a few people who are fluent in Japanese, and one person who is native to Japan. I appreciate the advice. =)
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