Living as a Vegetarian, Vegan, celiac, or someone with lactose intolerance, is still not yet widely known in Japan. However, with the growth in foreign travel, restaurants in Nozawa Onsen are becoming more aware of these practices and diet restrictions. With new restaurants opening each year options are increasing. With the right guidance you will be on your way for an easier eating experience.
Vegetarian (Bejitarian) you may find eating out quite easy on a Japanese diet, depending on your restrictions. If you will be ok with eating Dashi `Fish Stock.` Dashi is in most Japanese meals which are otherwise vegetarian. If this is ok, then Japanese are happy to prepare Soba noodles, Ramen, Udon and many other dishes without Meat and Poultry. Two of our favourite Ramen and Soba restaurants in town are Yoshimi Soba and Wanryu. All you have to say is `Watashi wa bejitarian desu.` Another great option for vegetarians is okinmiyaki (Japanese Pancake) this consists of Flour, Egg, Cabbage with variety of toppings. Visit Tonkichi for a traditional okonomiyaki experience.
Vegan (Bigan) is unfortunately going to be a little bit more difficult. Most dishes are already pre-prepared in some way. For a sauce not to contain some sort of fish ingredient already is very rare. With many Vegan Guests visiting this season through, Nozawa Holidays Mt Dock Gondola Cafe added a variety of Vegan dishes to their menu. This season they had choices of Vegan Sandwhiches, Vegan Banana Bread, Vegan Choc Pear Muffins, Vegan Cinamon scrolls and more daily specials. This was great for a morning or mid day snack right next to the slopes. Being Lactose intolerant you will also find Soy milk here and at most coffee shops throughout the village, with even some having Almond milk.
Restaurants will find absolutely anything they can to show you what you can eat on their menu. Mostly known things like rice, edemame, tofu, and salads. A few restaurants will do dishes on request. Hatoguruma Kawabata is a restaurant in town that can prepare set dinners, vegetarian or vegan, using fresh and local produce. Another restaurant with options already on the menu is Organic Mom`s Kitchen. Also one to mention, Neo Bar which have a dish called `Mushroom Chya-Han` which the chef is happy to make vegan, all you have to say is `Watashi wa bigan desu.`
Celiac or Lactose Intolerant
Celiac and Lactose Intolerance may be a case of just removing one ingredient. As mentioned above Organic Mom`s Kitchen has Gluten free options labeled on their menu. There is also a Vegetarian Bakery, which has many different bakery goods, labeled Dairy Free/Gluten Free. This restaurant card allows you to tell the restaurant you’re eating at about your requirements, for a gluten free diet. Download your card from here: http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/japanese/
If you are booking Acomodation it may having cooking facilities. A Self contained apartment fitted with a complete kitchen or use of kitchens at the lodges. Cooking your own meals could also be an option. There are two local supermarkets in town, that have a variety of fresh produce and ingredients.
Until Japan is more aware, the best way to be safe is to bring some snacks. Lentil, Chia Seads, Almonds etc, that are light, easy to carry, and will get you through your trip comfortably.
Japanese food is a must try in Nozawa Onsen. So even with these practices and dietry requirements, you are sure to find a delicious meal here. On our free restaurant and bar guide we have marked restaurants that are vegetarian/vegan friendly.