Vegan Snacks and Street Food In Japan (+Tips For Finding Them)

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Japan has an impressive range of snacks and street food. However, you may be worried that it’s impossible to enjoy any of them as a vegan.

You may be surprised of how many vegan treats you can have!

In this post, you will learn which snacks are usually vegan (and what ingredients to avoid) and what they look like. Hopefully you will be a pro and can fully enjoy the food in Japan after this!

Mochi, Dango and Daifuku

Green mugwort daifuku with red bean filling covered in soybean powder

Mochi (餠 or もち), dango (団子) and daifuku (大福) are some of the most common snack/dessert you can find in Japan. Mochi and dango are quite similar, but dango usually has sauce or red bean on top. Daifuku is a mochi with filling, usually red bean paste.

It’s commonly found in most supermarkets and convenience stores. Mochi and dango are usually vegan. However, some daifuku has milk (乳) or egg (卵​). So be careful when checking the labels.

You will also often see some yellow powder on top of these snacks. It is soy bean powder called kinako (きなこ​​).

Dango with brown sugar syrup and soybean powder

Botamochi and Ohagi (Red Bean Glutenous Mochi)

Ohagi with soy bean powder

Botamochi (ぼたもち) and ohagi (おはぎ​) are sweets made with glutenous rice, rice and red bean paste. They are pretty similar.

There are some variations for this, for example, some have red bean paste on the outside and glutenous rice mochi on the inside, while some others are reversed with soybean powder coating.

You can find this in many supermarkets and sometimes convenience stores. It’s usually vegan.

Warabimochi (Soy bean powder jelly)

Matcha soy bean powder warabimochi

Warabimochi (蕨餅 or わらび餅) is a chewy jelly covered in soybean powder and sometimes with brown sugar syrup. It’s sold in many places like supermarkets, food section of department stores and convenience stores. And it’s usually vegan.

Daigaku Imo (Candied Sweet Potato)

Daigaku imo with black sesame

One of my favorites to eat in Japan is this daigaku imo (大学芋), which is a candied sweet potato. The well made ones have a crunchy shell with soft cooked sweet potato inside.

It’s usually found in the food hall in department store and supermarkets. However, look out for honey (はちみつ or 蜂蜜 in Japanese) ​as it’s quite commonly used for this snack. 

Yōkan (Thick Sweet Bean Jelly)

Yōkan (羊羹) is a thick sweet bean jelly that’s found in most supermarket, convenience stores and other food stores. It’s mainly made with red bean paste, agar, and sugar. As you can see from the photo, there are different flavors like matcha (green) and chestnut (brown). It’s usually vegan.

Monaka (Red Bean Wafer Sandwich)

Red bean monaka

Monaka (最中 or もなか) is a wafer cake filled with usually red bean paste. Sometimes other flavor fillings are used, like chestnut, mochi, or even with ice cream.

Flavors like red bean or mochi are usually vegan. It can be found in many supermarkets and convenience stores.

Another monaka found in a Japanese department store supermarket

Manjū (Red Bean Buns)

The skin is very thin with a lot of red bean paste

Usually Manjū or 饅頭 refers to the regular sized steamed bun. But these small ones are different and they are filled with red bean paste. Sometimes they are vegan, but look out for egg (卵​). They can be found in supermarkets.

Taiyaki (Fish-shaped Red Bean Cake)

Vegan taiyaki from Taiyaki Hiiragi in Tokyo

Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake with red bean filling. The shell is traditionally made with egg.

Luckily Taiyaki Hiiragi in Tokyo and Hakata Hiiragi Taiyaki in Fukuoka make vegan version of this fun Japanese treat.

Rice Cracker

Rice cracker is another common treat in Japan. They come in many sizes and shapes. Some of them are salty and some of them sweet.

It’s not too difficult to find a vegan one, but look out for non-vegan ingredients like bonito (かつお or 鰹), chicken powder, etc.

One famous vegan rice cracker is called Kabuki-age rice crackers and is usually found in convenience stores.

Onigiri (Triangle-shaped Rice Ball)

Onigiri is a triangular sushi and is sold in virtually all convenience stores.

However, not all of them are vegan as a lot of times fish stock is used in cooking (even though it’s not marked on the ingredient list). The pickled plum and plain flavors are generally more safe. For a more in depth list, check out Is It Vegan Japan.

Cookies and Biscuits

This brand (Biokura) makes vegan cookies in different flavors

Not many cookies and biscuits in Japan are vegan. But those that are marketed as “macrobiotic (マクロビ)” have a higher chance of being vegan. They are usually found in health-conscious or vegan-friendly grocery shops.

This biscuit is vegan and found in many supermarkets

Ice Cream

This vegan soy ice cream is available in some supermarkets in Japan. You will have a better chance of finding this in a sizable supermarket in big cities like Tokyo.

It’s not easy to find vegan ice cream in Japan. Most of them use milk as you’d expect. For a better chance of finding vegan ice cream, go to a vegan-friendly grocery shop.

Vegan ice cream found in Ohsawa Japan in Tokyo

Popsicle

This azuki red bean popsicle in found in many supermarkets and even convenience stores

Some popsicles, especially the fruity ones, are vegan in Japan. However, check the ingredients carefully.

Fruit popsicles found in Lawson
Fruit popsicle also found in Lawson

Hopefully now you know where to get some delicious vegan snacks and street food in Japan like a pro.

If you’d like to learn the basics of reading ingredient list so you can find vegan products on your own, check out our Label Reading Guide here.

 

And feel free to check out some other Japan food guides here:

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