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Vegetarian in Japan.......

So I'm studying abroad in Japan and as some of you know I'm a vegetarian border line vegan (I sometimes make exceptions for honey and in extreme cases where there is no way around it milk but  I have been avoiding the milk really well and its been a while since I've had it).  Anyways its kind of hard.  There is fish in almost everything  :'(... and the stuff that doesn't have fish seems to have meat (beef or chicken fat etc.) but there is a lady here who I bring stuff to after I buy it to check the ingredients.  Its going to be fun when I try to go out to a restaurant and with my limited skills try to convey to the waiter the situation.  Luckily I have phrases already written out like "I can't eat meat" and "I can't eat fish stock" but if they don't understand then it could get really interesting. 

HERE is are results of a search for sites you can purchase 'allergy' restaurant cards in many languages....I looked for one that did it for free, but I fear it has disappeared in the last year or so since I last looked it up.

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I wish you the best of luck! And please keep us updated. I am hopefully moving to China for a year in a few months. SO I assume I will mainly be in the same boat as you.

I am sure the more language you learn the easier it will get. I would also recommend just doing tons of google searches for vegetarian in Japan. Which I am sure you have already done, but that is the best advice I have.

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Maybe initially, you could stick to vegetarian/vegan restaurants until you get the hang of things:
http://www.happycow.net/asia/japan/
142 listings for Japan total, 56 for Tokyo, 28 for Kyoto, and 10 for Osaka.

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First off thanks for the advice.  Second I can't do the restaurant thing b/c I'm not only on a budget and its relatively expensive eating out in Japan but I'm in Hikone which is not really close to any of the restaurants on the list which I checked before I came to Japan.  I may try to make my own allergy card, which I think could work, so thanks again Hanashi.  And wassernixe you will probably have a hard time as well in China but I don't think they are as intense w/the fish as the Japanese.  But there are some good things like the fact that noodles, tofu, and miso are dirt cheap over here but you have to still be careful because some miso brands have bonito flakes in them, as well as at restaurants because most of the noodle dishes have some type of animal in the broth.

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WTF...  I really wanted to try wasabi but it has lactic acid in it!  I can't find any w/o it. 

The other day we went out to a soba/udon place and I was wicked excited for some authentic Japanese food... but all the soups had fish in them so I got some cucumber sushi which was delicious!  Unfortunately it wasn't all that filling, but hey I'll take what I can get when I can get it.

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Lactic acid is not necessarily a lactose product, fortunately. From wikipedia:

"Although it can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar), most commercially used lactic acid is derived by using bacteria such as Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, or Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (formerly known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus) to ferment carbohydrates from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes, and molasses. Thus, although it is commonly known as "milk acid", vegan products can contain lactic acid as an ingredient."

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Thanks faunablues, I double checked some other sites and they all said that it is rare for lactic acid to come from animals nowadays.  I'm so happy that I finally get to try wasabi because I love spicy food.

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This is a great thread--I've been wanting to visit a friend in Japan, but wondering about if I could trust the food.
Thanks!

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tempehtime your welcome and depending on what part of Japan you're going to and where you'll be eating (restaurants or making your own food) it may be easier because there are some vegan friendly restaurants just none really close to where I am.

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The other day I made a fairly simple yet delicious miso soup and tomorrow I'm going to try and make sushi.  Yeah!  I'll let you guys know how that goes.

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The other day I made a fairly simple yet delicious miso soup and tomorrow I'm going to try and make sushi.  Yeah!  I'll let you guys know how that goes.

Nori maki is easier than is rumored. Do not be fearful!

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So I tried my hand at making sushi rice yesterday...  It went okay.  Made a second batch which my friend then helped me roll into sushi and onigiri.  I'll be having that for lunch, and will then let you know how it turned out.  Also wasabi could possibly be the greatest condiment in the entire world.  Just saying

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So last night I tried those plums that they put in onigiri for the first time.  They were pretty good.  Also I had some daikon.  It was okay but it was cheap.  I think I may try to make "daikon fries" by putting a little oil on it and baking it.  Do you guys think that it will taste okay?  Let me know what you think.

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I`ve been in Tokyo the last few days and I haven`t been able to find a good veg friendly restaurant.  I know there is that list on happycow but I`m with a group of people so I can`t just say hey were going to this place to eat (especially b/c none of them are in our general fecility).  We went to a curry place and all the curry had animal fat in it so I just had a salad and a small bowl of white rice. 

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I'm planning a trip to Japan, near Osaka. I saw the restaurants on Happy Cow but I don't think I'll be able to eat out all the time because it will really add up.

Are there affordable, convenient vegan foods anyone recommends I pick up at the grocery store there?

Any foods/snacks I should pack with me?

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what i found out there was noodles are your best friends.  udon and soba

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what i found out there was noodles are your best friends.  udon and soba

Thanks, wayneshep! I've made noodles my best friends here. Shouldn't be so hard in Japan.

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In Japan, those noodle bowls are mostly made with a fish or some other meat broth. So order them plain and add soy sauce, ginger and spices to flavor them.

Also vegan in Japan,
Vegetable sushi
Inari
Red beans and sticky rice
Plastic containers of mixed raw vegetables(sold at markets and convenience stores)
Grilled tomato tofu salad
Sesame Tofu
Spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce
This side dish(don't know the name) with spinach blended with peanuts
Various cereals served with soymilk(look in the refrigerated center for the container with a little cowgirl on it. That one is soy milk.
Snacks like rice crackers, vegetable waffle chips
French fries
Oatmeal

Sweets:
Ohagi
Mochi
Various fruit/vegetable juice blends at restaurants and convenience stores
Some sorbet and snowcones
Starbucks drinks can be made with soymilk
Big Fuji apples at the grocery store

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Sorry if this is bringing up an old thread, but I've been thinking about studying abroad in Japan as well, except it would be in Nagasaki and a home stay. Does anybody have any vegan tips for that area? I know beginner/somewhat intermediate level japanese, but I'm a bit worried about this. Thanks!

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