Plant Based Eating in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan: Our Culinary Adventure Continues.
By Molly Patrick
Sep 7, 2019,
This is our third and final post on eating plant based in Japan. We went to a traditional Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and showed you how it was done, we explored plant based eating in Tokyo and gave you the lowdown, and today we’re headed to Kyoto and Osaka.
The plant based food in Tokyo was good, but the plant based food in Kyoto and Osaka was amazing. Of all the places we visited in Japan, Kyoto was my favorite.
Enjoy our trip!
On the bullet train (Shinkansen) and ready to go to Kyoto!
The Shinkansen hovers above the tracks racing along at 200 mph 320km/h. When you look out the window you get dizzy!
You see this snack a lot in Japan. It’s called Musubi or Onigiri. It’s rice and various fillings, all wrapped in seaweed in the shape of a triangle, which is why Luanne calls them “triangles”. These are common in convenience stores, like 7-11 (which are everywhere in Japan). The only one that is vegan is the plum flavor (pictured above). If you don’t speak Japanese, look for this label and in a pinch, it will work.
The inside of my triangle.
I packed some granola from Malaysia because I knew that reading labels was going to be tricky, if not impossible, in Japan. I found some small containers of almond milk in Tokyo that I stocked up on. If you have granola and milk, all you need is a cup and a spoon. I always travel with a plastic spoon that I reuse and cups are easy to come by. Food in a pinch on the go!
My cup was Luanne’s coffee cup that she had finished drinking from.
The countryside between Tokyo and Kyoto. Mount Fuji was on our right but the blinds were down so we missed it.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan before the capital moved to Tokyo in 1868.
Kyoto has an older, more cultural and rustic vibe, whereas Tokyo is more modern and hip. I loved Kyoto and would happily spend more time there.
We dropped off our bags and we headed out, ready to explore.
When we travel we never have a set itinerary, we follow our curiosity and go where the place takes us.
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The rain started coming down hard so we got a cab and made our way to a healthy grocery store to load up on groceries. This was a store called Farmers Natural Food Supermarket and it was the best health food store we went to in Japan. It had lots of organic fruits and vegetables and clearly labeled vegan food. I was in heaven!
My grocery haul.
We stayed at an Airbnb with a tiny kitchen. It had a very small fridge, an electric stove top, a microwave and a very, very small sink. It had a couple pots and a few bowls and plates. It was sparse but it worked for making some simple meals.
Noodles and veggies. Simple and delish.
My travel mat and my balls go everywhere I go.
Peanut butter is not easy to find in Japan, but I stumbled upon some and swooped it up. I have never been so happy to have a peanut butter and jam sandwich in all my life.
I was as excited to find hummus as I was to find peanut butter. I toasted some bread, spread on some hummus, and threw on some cucumber rounds. Easy and yum.
I packed a sandwich, a Lara Bar and some dried chickpeas and it was time to head out and explore some more. I never went out for an adventure without some food in my bag because vegan food isn’t always easy to find. And if there is vegan food, you may have no idea because everything is in Japanese.
For me, the language barrier was the hardest part of traveling in Japan. It wouldn’t have been as challenging if I didn’t follow a plant based diet. I made it work, but it takes patience and perseverance.
After many hours of walking and an unexpected steep hike to a monkey park, we were ready for some fuel! We got lucky and found this vegan restaurant, Musubi Cafe, on the Happy Cow app. That app is a MUST when traveling, especially when traveling outside of the country.
The first thing I had was a big celery and kale smoothie. It hit the spot.
Chickpea onion curry over rice. I was a happy girl to have a plate of beans.
I don’t usually eat white rice but when I travel I’m not fussed about it.
Later that night we popped into a sushi restaurant and I ordered some edamame beans, miso, green tea soba and an avocado roll. It hit the spot just right. I like going to sushi restaurants because my wife eats fish, and I can always find something to enjoy.
As we walked back to our Airbnb, we stopped and watched the sun go down.
Kyoto touched my soul and made me smile from within. It is such a lovely city.
Our teeny tiny kitchen was minuscule compared to American standards, but I was so happy to have it. I made miso soup for breakfast each morning.
I started with some organic broccoli.
I simmered the broccoli in water until it was tender.
When the broccoli was done simmering, I emptied it out of the pot and added some water to the pot. I simmered the water and then turned off the heat and added some miso paste.
I washed and chopped up some kale.
And finally, I added some miso broth to our bowls, added some simmered broccoli, and some kale. Breakfast was served!
When I have my period, I use a Diva cup and period underwear. That combination allows me to go without tampons, panty liners, or any other disposable period products. It’s super easy, especially when I travel. Here are my period undies drying outside of our Airbnb.
We are not sponsored by them, but Knix makes awesome period underwear. Their Longevity sports bra is also amazing. Plus, they use women of all shapes, sizes, and colors for their marketing which is a breath of fresh air.
We woke up to a wet morning, so we stayed in our house for a while, sipping tea and doing some work. At lunchtime we ventured out in the rain and made our way to a plant based restaurant that I found on the Happy Cow app.
Veg Out was an awesome restaurant that was just my vibe.
I started with some herbal tea.
When the food came out we just wanted to look at it because it was so beautiful.
This plate of plant based goodness was a pure delight. I might go back to Kyoto just to eat at this restaurant again. Everything was super fresh, the produce tasted like it was picked that morning.
This salad made my soul happy.
Taking one last stroll through Kyoto before we packed up and prepared to head to Osaka.
Still in my awesome jumpsuit that I scored in Tokyo. Waiting for the train to Osaka.
The Osaka train station was so cool to look at!
We checked into a massive and fairly impersonal hotel in Osaka because we were using credit card points and we figured we would mainly be sleeping there, so why not. Even in a super small space I made my movement practice work!
We were not fans of our hotel so we left to go exploring not long after we checked in.
We wound up at a vegan restaurant called Paprika Shokudo Vegan.
This place was super cute and tucked away on a random side street.
All of the vegan restaurants in Japan were so good. One thing that they all had in common was the freshness of their ingredients. Everything was bursting with flavor and nothing was ever wilted or sad. This salad was like eating directly from the garden.
I was so excited to see tempeh on the menu. It was marinated and grilled to perfection.
And for dessert we had a small piece of chocolate cake and a small piece of tofu cheesecake. We left the restaurant feeling totally blissed out, satisfied, light, and happy.
The evening was warm, so we walked and slowly made our way back to the hotel, stopping to look at things along the way.
I had this can of minestrone soup with me since we left Malaysia. It says vegetarian but upon further inspection, I found that it was, in fact, vegan. I kept this with me as backup, but since the end of our trip was nearing we decided to eat it for breakfast.
I opened the can (it had the kind of lid that could peel up without a can opener), poured it into a coffee mug from our room, went down to the lobby and put it in the microwave.
Boom, breakfast was served.
We had a hodgepodge of food left, so I packed it all up and had a feast at the airport before we boarded our flight. I also grabbed a veggie sandwich from Subway without mayo or cheese to eat on our flight. It was the first time in about 10 years that I had eaten at Subway, but it was either that or no food until we arrived home. I went with Subway, and I was glad I did.
Waiting for our plane to take us home.
So ready to go home, pet our cat, sleep in our bed, make a green juice, and reflect on our three months away from home.
Traveling out of the country takes planning and it’s not always easy, especially when you don’t speak the language. But here’s the thing: I never, ever regret it and I always come away richer, wiser, grateful, and more flexible because of it.
Go see the world; it’s waiting for you!
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with getting out of your comfort zone and exploring something new.
Here’s something we want to give you a heads up about.
We had tickets booked for Europe before we got the call that Luanne’s dad had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and that we had better get to Malaysia to see him. We were planning to visit my sister in Holland for her 50th birthday in June, and then travel around Europe for a few weeks. But, when we got the call from Luanne’s brother in late March, we knew we had to cancel our Europe trip because we didn’t know how much time Luanne’s dad had to live.
We use a credit card (Chase Sapphire Reserve) that is good for traveling because it has trip protection and other perks like triple points for dining, hotels, blah, blah, blah.
When we called the credit card’s insurance processor to tell them we had to cancel our Europe trip due to Luanne’s dad being terminally ill and that we needed to use their trip protection, it was a no. We tried for months to get reimbursed for our Europe tickets and we only got the runaround and rude people telling us no. In short, it’s a scam.
We wanted to let people know about this, so Luanne wrote a blog post about our experience in case you ever think about getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for their trip protection. You can read the post here.