Vegan Guide to Japan – Hakone

MtFujiAfter a few days in Tokyo, it was really nice to hop on board the “Limited Express Romance Car” and head to Hakone for some time in the country. On the way, our conductor made sure we got to the other side of the train for a glorious vies of Mr. Fuji. It was like a miracle seeing it on such a clear day!

While in Japan one thing I really wanted to do was check out an Onsen. Public baths are a huge part of the culture in Japan and I love a good soak. I had read about Hakone, the hot spring town, and I really wanted to check it out because it sounded amazing. We wanted to stay in a traditional Ryokan which means that you wear a yukata (summer kimono) and sleep on tatami mats on the floor. It’s pretty tough to find one with vegan options but I did it! Kansuiro Ryokan promised to be a completely traditional ryokan that also catered to any sort of dietary needs.Kansuiro In the ryokan, you have your own room where they bring you a feast course by course. We were overwhelmed by all the food. Then while we were hanging out in our outdoor onsen overlooking the mountains they take all the food away and change it into a bedroom. It was a very different experience. Our hostess barely spoke English but she helped us make sure everything was perfect. Until the morning, that is, when she insisted we have a gigantic breakfast right at 8am. They called us at 7:30 and started yelling “hurry! hurry!” because we weren’t out of bed yet. It kind of killed the relaxing atmosphere and after the giant spread the night before I couldn’t handle another full on breakfast.

Sandra

Top 5 vegan options in Hakone

  1. Cafe Douce
  2. Cafe Timuny
  3. Hakone Kappei
  4. Owakudani Wakuwaku Kitchen
  5. Shika-Jaya

Other Posts in this series

Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto
Vegan Guide Japan

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Win a Freeto Burrito and read all the #atxvegan news and events for the week!

The Freeto Burrito at the Vegan Yacht is BACK Baby

Right now it’s a soft opening with freeto burritos and freeto burrito supremeos but soon all the old favorites will be back like, the TLT, Buffalo burrito and buffalo bowl, chili stuffed potatoes! A Mock chick’n wrap salad and even a chili dawg! My dream is that they add breakfast 🙂

News

The Vegan Yacht opened in South Austin at a shop on Machacha called the ’45. The Frito Burrito is back and they will soon be adding to the menu. Also, inside are some vegan items to buy like Zucchini Kill treats.

Nadamoo scoop shop had a soft opening on South Lamar and will soon be having a whole range of vegan offerings.

Nissi Vegmex an all vegan Mexican food trailer coming soon!

Kerbey Lane released their summer menu and you can see more easily on their menu what can be made vegan. Their new head chef had the local chain once again change their vegan burger and sausage recipe. Some people are calling the fake meats a good change from their previous offering others are calling it “mushy garbage”.

Added to Lazy Smurf’s Vegan-Friendly Guide this Week:

Brentwood Social House has vegan curry pies and they also have a room dedicated for the wee ones filled with toys.

Ah Sing Den 1100 E 6th St Cocktail bar with vegan snacks and entres marked on their menu including Curried Sweet Potato hash at brunch, Thai Curry Udon, and a Thai Banana Split.

Austin Daily Press– 1900 E. MLK. and on East Ceaser Chavez. This sandwich shop has one vegan torta that sounds really good, Pickled Green Mango, Coconut Braised Kale, Ginger Peanut Sauce, Toasted Peanuts, Red Cabbage Salad And they have tempeh and vegetable tapas.

Southern Pressed Juicery 11010 Domain Drive, Ste. 102 inside Wanderlust Yoga. More than just juice they also have smoothie bowls, coconut yogurt, superfood salads, Pad Thai Zoodles, and vegetable sushi rolls.

Austin Food Company & GreenSpace Cafe. at the Squarerut Kava Bar on Barton Springs. Mineral Rich vegan food like local grain bowls, Goodness Gracious Wild Stir-fry, and Electrified Wild Blueberry Pancakes made with Irish Sea moss and ancient grains, topped with freshly made date sauce.. Also has weekly meal plans.

Miriam Rieck, Licenced Massage Therapist – Swedish and other modalities offered with local Austin herbalist plant essences.

Angel Donuts and Treats – Brick and Mortar Bakery 8300 North FM 620 Drive Thru Food Trailer 12342 Ranch Rd 620. Three varieties (chocolate, powdered sugar or cinnamon) of vegan cake doughnuts but they sell out quickly.

Spokesman 440 E Saint Elmo Rd Ste 2 This very interesting space is a coffee bar that also has quite a few beer taps. They also do panini sandwiches and have a chickpea salad one with vegan mayo and toasted sunflower seeds.

Independence Fine Foods 1807 W. Slaughter LN, SUITE 100. They have a tofu scramble with Green Chiles, Chili Roasted Cauliflower for breakfast (say no cheese) and some veggie sandwiches for lunch.

Upcoming Events

June 9 at 8am at the Vegan Nom Coach Jacobie with J-FIT Nation will be doing a 1-hr Bootcamp class. It’s Vegan Fit Camp.

June 12 Vegan night at Winebelly was off to a great start with their fabulous Truffled Poutine and Tomato bread but then they lost power. The event is rescheduled for next Tuesday.

June 12 Healthy food meetup from ATX vegans at Casa de Luz

July 14 Elle’s Cafe Elevated Vegan Night. Elle’s Cafe will be delivering a fixed 5 course pre-fixe menu for 30 people that is vegan whole food plant based, oil-free, and gluten-free. More info and RSVP.

June 17 There are still tickets available for the annual Austin Vegan Party Barge

June 18 is Vegan Book Club at Central Market North. The group will be reading Animal Farm.

Contest Closed Congrats Sherri!

TO WIN a Freeto Burrito

To celebrate their opening on Manchacha the Vegan Yacht will be giving away a Freeto Burrito. To enter leave a comment on the Facebook post!

Last week’s winners for BBQ sandwiches are 

Alison, Erica, Zach, and Spencer please check your email.

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Asakusa

templeDogOn New Year’s Eve we found ourselves in the district of Asakusa the home of the Buddhist temple Sensō-ji. It turned out it was the perfect place to be. New Years is a big holiday in Japan, maybe the biggest and there are lots of traditions. The main one is that you go to a temple and put in your prayer for the new year. It’s important to do this as fast as possible once the new year starts so there are tons of people lined up waiting for midnight to approach the temple. Sensō-ji had an atmosphere of a huge festival with vendors selling snacks and charms for blocks and blocks on the way to the temple. Inside the grounds, you could also get your fortune scroll after making an offering and picking a lucky number. Mine said I’m going to lead a revolution.

We waited around but it was pretty cold and so we left for a little to warm up at a bar in a fancy hotel overlooking the sky tree where we were completely underdressed but still treated with kindness and respect. Japan is really great. In Asakusa you have a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree which is lit up at night. Also, it’s just one stop over from Uneo station which is home to another T’s Restaurant. On New Years you are supposed to eat Udon Noodles for luck and this was the spot to do it for sure.

We made it back over to Sensō-ji for midnight where we got to hang out by some VIPs who were ringing the toki-no-kane (bells of Time),  for New Years.  It rings 108 times and every single ring is made by a different person. It was a magical night as we ushered in the Year of the Dog!

Bells

Top 5 vegan options in Asakusa

    1. Toryanse

    2. Sekai Cafe

    3. Kaemon Asakusa

    4. Sumida River Kitchen

    5. Aasics Connection

Other Posts in this series

Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto

 Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Harajuku

cupcakeSweets in Japan are a pretty big deal but vegan ones aren’t always easy to find. Unless you stroll into the tiny Brown Sugar 1st where you will be overwhelmed with things to buy like coconut popcorn and yuzu cookies and soft serve ice cream and cupcakes.

A district in Shibuya, Harajuku, is unlike anywhere I’ve been in my life. It became famous for the “Harajuku Girls” who come out to shop in the most fabulous clothes you’ve ever seen. And girl power is definitely the name of the came. Everything is kawaii (cute), in pastel colors, and looks like it was designed by the coolest committee of twelve-year-old girls anywhere. There are cat cafes, bakeries, crepe shops, animal costumes, and stuffed animals everywhere. And this is for sure the place to pick up that glitter filled cell phone case you’ve been dying for. I would want every girl in the world to have a neighborhood like this to wander around, there were so many small groups of unchaperoned girls just having the best time. It made our trips to the mall in the 80s seem pathetic by comparison. And yes, we did spend way too much money on this giant rainbow cotton candy! cottoncandy

Top 5 vegan options in or near Harajuku

    1. Harukucchii
    2. Sass-no-ha
    3. Hachinoki
    4. Kamakura 24sekki
    5. Kitotoki

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Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto

Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Shibuya

HachikōMaybe you’ve heard the story of Hachikō, the dog that waited at Shibuya station for his human to get off work every single day. He was so famous for his ever-present to folks in the neighborhood for his unwavering attitude that when he passed they built a statue of Hachikō, waiting in his spot.

Shibuya is probably the area that you think of when you picture Tokyo in your mind. It’s like times square on some sort of intense Japanese drugs that they only have in anime movies. Everywhere you look there are giant ads, giant building, and millions of people everywhere. The day I was at the famous intersection across the station enjoying my matcha latte at Starbucks, I even saw a bunch of people driving go-carts dressed like all the characters from Mario Kart, Luigi, Toad and the Princess were all there. They say the intersection is the busiest in the world and it’s super interesting to watch the lights change and see it swarm with people.

Aside from the many stores and coffeshops, (one has a David Lynch theme!) there are plenty of vegan options. We tried Afuri which was very different than other bowls of ramen in Japan because it was positively swimming with bright, colorful vegetables. It was very tasty and I recommend it for sure. There are a ton of other options and many are open late so check Happy Cow and Yelp to see what’s what.

Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Shimokitazawa

ShimoStreetWhen we found a David Bowie-themed Airbnb it soon seemed like Shimokitazawa was the neighborhood for us! We were so glad to find this spot which I can’t imagine will be around for very long. Unlike everywhere else in Tokyo in Shimokitazawa everything is human-sized. Through the main section they don’t even allow cars, it’s just narrow little streets with hip young Japanese people heading to and fro. It’s not at all overwhelming like the other neighborhoods but there are tons of cafes and vintage shops.

Our first stop was for, you guessed it, ramen and gyoza. We were very excited to get to order from a vending machine at Chabuton. It was pretty tasty but probably the least exciting of the bunch. We loved the gyoza though!

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We also got to try a couple of coffee shops. The weird part about Shimokitazawa is that most places don’t open until 11am, even coffee places! I later found out there was a spot with a ham and cheese crepe called blank but we couldn’t work it into our schedule. There was one Australian style coffee shop, Frankie Melbourne Espresso,  that I ordered a soy chai from and it was literally the best chai I’d ever had in my life. When it came out, it was still steeping so there was a little hourglass on the tray to let me know exactly when it was done. So adorable.

For late night I loved the bar Mother. It was also very close to our airbnb and was made out of cob painted gold so it resembled a super fancy tree house and had a super cool vibe. They had vegan options marked so I had to try the Okinawan noodles to go with my ume plum & shiso cocktail. It was delightful! mother

Other Posts in this series

Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto
Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo

TsRamenTokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and its vastness can truly overwhelm you when you are first starting to plan your trip. It took me forever to make some sense of the neighborhoods and districts and even now I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to be where! For example, I have Harajuku listed as it’s own page but it’s a part of Shibuya which is listed separately. Shibuya has many neighborhoods inside! Generally, I’m going to categorize places by what seemed right to me but when you are planning, it’s easy to figure out by looking at the train stations.

And speaking of trains, the whole system is vast and confusing. The bigger the station, the more likely that you will find a tourist desk for English speakers but if you can’t, no worries. Like in New York, the best way is to often ask a stranger! People in Japan were incredibly helpful everywhere I went. Learning a couple phrases like “Do you speak English” and “Thank you very much” will get you far. You will end up spending a lot of time on trains and in the station so it’s best to plan where you are going to eat based on what train station you are already going to be near.

The most recommended vegan restaurant in all of Japan, T’s Tan Tan, is actually located inside Tokyo station. So, it’s a great first stop on your way in from the airport if you are staying near the station or transferring through. I read MANY accounts of people saying that they would plan all of their routes through Tokyo station just so they could keep on eating at T’s.  Even though it’s a tiny restaurant, lots of people had big bags that the staff allowed for storage in the entryway so don’t stress about that, but every station has tons of lockers which you can also store your bag in. I read that finding the T’s in Tokyo station was difficult but really it wasn’t so bad because I followed the directions on Happy Cow to get to Keiyo street which is inside the station. I had more trouble finding the location in Ueno station. Really, I should have just asked someone sooner because I wasted a lot of time wandering around. The key is to just find the big food court and then from there as someone who looks like they work there. The ramen at T’s is unsurpassed, I tried multiple versions and they were all the best ramen I ever had! Everything is vegan and best of all, if you are traveling on a holiday, they keep their social media up to date so we could find out that they were indeed open on New Year’s Day which was one of the most exciting things that happened to me while in Japan because everything is closed around New Years.

Other things to note about Tokyo, if you put money on a PASMO card at the subway you can use it throughout the city and Kyoto for subways and trams and you can keep adding money as necessary. There is also an unlimited tourist rail pass. We used google maps to find our way around and, in my opinion, it’s pretty important to have an International SIM card or Pocket Wi-Fi. We had the latter from Pupuru which worked fantastically. You can pick it up at the airport when you land and then drop it off in the prepaid envelope in a mailbox inside the airport before you take-off. Note that the mailboxes are outside the security after check-in. I’d also recommend getting a powerbank to keep your cell and wi-fi charged up. When you run directions and google translate all day it can really drain the battery. And once your battery is drained, your completely screwed! Note that they don’t have Uber in Japan. And lots of places take cash so make sure you get a Yen infusion at the ATMs in the train station whenever you start to get low.

Google Translate is one of the best things that ever happened to vegan travelers. I had heard people say that, but I didn’t understand until my friend explained the camera capability. You just take a picture or point your camera at the list of ingredients and like magic it will try and figure out what the words are! You can easily tell if your onigiri is filled with red bean paste or tuna! Sometimes the translations are a bit tough though, I assumed that “rice flower floating in wind” was vegan. Usually, animal words are obvious. And that is my final tip about Japan. Everything is really expensive and getting around can take lots of time so the ubiquitous 7-11s and Family Marts on every single block are a godsend! We ate so many rice balls and chips when everything was closed at breakfast time or late night. The options are way better and totally different than in the US. Check out my friend Jojo’s post for more info on what’s what at convenience stores and lots of tips for travel and vegan restaurants. And watch the video for how to open the convenience store onigiri, the design is magically Japanese. 711food

Other Posts in this series

Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto

Vegan Guide Japan