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Updated: October 28, 2019

While Tokyo and Japan serves up some seriously good cuisine, eating out can be an issue if you have any special dietary requirements.

Be aware that Japan is relatively behind in vegetarian and vegan awareness, so caution is advised, even when ordering a dish that claims to be meat-free. Dashi—soup and cooking stock—is the essence of Japanese cooking, and is often made with bonito fish flakes.

While gluten-free products are available in some health stores in major cities, they come at a cost, and gluten-free options can’t be found in many restaurants. Soy sauce is synonymous with Japanese food, yet the wheat content means it can be an issue if you require a gluten-free diet.

It is a similar case if you require food that is kosher and halal. There are restaurants available around the country, but they are very much in the minority.

Make sure to communicate with any hotels that you plan to stay in, and make them aware about your dietary requirements. The more details the better. While larger hotel chains should be able to handle such requests, more local hotels and traditional ryokan tend to be a little less flexible.

It is not all bad news, however. It is possible to travel Japan, no matter what your dietary requirements are.
The best advice is to research thoroughly. There is lots of information readily available from how to navigate Japan as a vegetarian, vegan , on a gluten free diet , or when requiring food that is Kosher or Halal.