In this floating world
Things that mature well
produce happy thoughts,
Eggplants becoming ripe
is a matter of great celebration.


Eating strictly vegetarian — no meat, no seafood — can be a little tricky in Japan because many dishes use dashi, a fish broth made with bonito flakes. Thanks to Kyoto’s strong Buddhist culture and local specialties like tofu and kyo-yasai (traditional Kyoto vegetables), though, vegetarians likely won’t have too much trouble finding meat and fish-free dishes. 

Important Resources for Vegetarians in Japan:

The Language

The Food


Sitting just outside the main gates of Zen temple complex Myōshin-ji, Ajiro has been serving shojin ryori (Buddhist cuisine) since 1962 and uses no meat, fish or dairy in its dishes. The food at Ajiro, which changes by the season, is presented beautifully. A delicate square of pistachio tofu is served topped with tiny purple shiso flowers and a thumbnail-sized round of wasabi. Pumpkin tofu is plated alongside namafu (wheat gluten) wrapped in bamboo and a piece of inarizushi (a fried tofu pouch filled with sushi rice). Ajiro has limited seating, so be sure to make reservations.


Tucked inside Sogen Garden within temple Tenryu-ji, Shigetsu is open only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and makes for an ideal break from wandering the temple’s grounds. Lunch is prix fixe, with various set prices, Though some dishes change with the calendar, expect things like chilled sesame tofu, tender miso-glazed eggplant and yuba (tofu skin) in broth. Like all Buddhist temple restaurants, Shigetsu is technically vegan. If you’re a group of two or more, enhance the experience by booking a table in the tatami room that overlooks the Zen garden.

Salute Kyoto


Kamo serves up all organic locally grown vegetables in all kinds of tasty combinations. They take pride in the fact their vegetables are “Miyako vegetables” which means they are truly local.


A hidden gem inside buzzing Nishiki Market, tiny Hale is housed inside a machiya (traditional wooden Kyoto house). It can be a little tricky to find; it’s inside the market, on the north side of the street, between Tominokoji-dori and Fuyacho-dori. Look for a sweets shop and you’ll see the glass door to Hale. Inside is a cozy space with seating for a dozen overlooking a small garden. The three prix-fixe sets are big on tofu; expect creamy soft tofu and yuba alongside steamed vegetables, fragrant miso soup, and pickled vegetables. Hale is cash only and, citing a number of breakables, does not serve kids under age 10.

Macrobiotics Prunus

This light-filled café is just across the street from the Sagarashiyama JR station, in Arashiyama district near the Sagano bamboo forest and Tenryū-ji temple. On the menu are set lunches starring tofu, brown rice, and seasonal vegetables; hearty bowls of free-of-fish broth; and a few simple Western dishes like spaghetti with mock sausage. For dessert, try a slice of moist pound cake with a cup of tea before setting off for your walk around the bamboo forest.

Opening Hours: 9:00 – 6:00

Closed Wednesday and Thursday

Vegans Café & Restaurant

Vegans Café & Restaurant is a family business in the heart of Kyoto, and an establishment which actively supports local organic farmers. Come here to sample vegetarian curries, salads and wraps, and even try a slice of mock meat. The interior is large and spacious and there is the option to either sit on the floor or at a table.

Vegans serves up modern, delicious fusion cuisine with particular emphasis on classic western comfort foods, including the best pizza in Kyoto, making it especially popular with foreign tourists. It also appears to have become the default center of the animal rights community in Kyoto.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 

11:30-13:00 (L.O. 2:30)
 15:30-9:30 (L.O 9:00) Sunday & Holidays: 1130 – 5:30 (L.O 5:00)
Closed: Monday, Thursday

Veggie Cafe

The owner  returned to Japan from the USA to open the Veggie Cafe, which originally applied macrobiotic principles to Middle Eastern foods, particularly falafel, as he wanted to apply a familiar healthy food concept to something different to the regular curries and fake meat served at macrobiotic restaurants all over Japan. His menu now extends well beyond its falafel-and-hummus beginnings to include a range of soups, burgers and Mexican dishes. 
Opening Hours: 5:30 – 8:30
Closed Wednesday


Morphocafe exudes a cool vibe and is a popular destination for vegans in Kyoto. The vegan special here is fresh salad, tofu and braised vegetables, but the menu also offers delicious dishes from vegetarian green curry and taco rice to vegan coleslaw and tofu burgers. Don’t miss the soya hot chocolate or the soya chai latte to drink.

Falafel Garden

Falafel Garden offers arguably the best falafels in Kyoto; deliciously crispy on the outside, moist and aromatic on the inside. Pair yours with a range of fresh salad items and sauces, and enjoy your meal on the charming backyard terrace filled with plants.

Yudofu Sagano

Yudofu Sagano offers an all-tofu kaiseki menu, a vegetarian take on the traditional Japanese dining style. The joint is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in the Arashiyama district, not far from the Tenryuji Temple. The multi-course meal is served while guests sit on comfortable pillows; from here they can admire the colorful garden which surrounds the restaurant.


Tosuiro Kiyamachi Main Branch is a tofu restaurant with exquisitely presented plates. Top menu picks include the corn daifuku, the caramelized grilled tofu, the vegetarian sushi, the soy ice-cream and the tempura with green tea salt. The outdoor dining deck here offers a beautiful view of the Kamogawa River and features charming 1940s light stands.

Tosca Vege Café & Dining

This restaurant has comfortable wooden tables and chairs, jazz playing in the background, an English menu and an open kitchen. The sourdough breads, which accompany the meals, are excellent and come with a fragrant olive oil. The house dessert is wonderful too; a sweet potato-mugwort muffin.



Yoshuji is a surprisingly sophisticated restaurant set in a small, rural village. Located to the right of the entrance steps, just below the ticket gate entrance for Kiyomizu-dera temple grounds, Yoshuji serves excellent multi-course vegan Shojin Ryori, as well as cheaper options such as soba topped with mountain vegetables. Look out for the fresh Japanese vegetables freshly picked from the village and always on the menu.


Delicious vegan home-cooked style. Most vegetables and other ingredients, including brown rice, are chemical free. Menu includes various noodle and Indian curry dishes, plus authentic Japanese lunch sets.

Miss. Sujata leads Sri Chimnoy Meditation and Mantra Chanting every Saturday 18:00~19:30. On the second floor, free of charge.

Near Hyakumanben & Kyoto University, east of Higashioji Street, on north side of Imadegawa Street.

Lunch: Mon – Fri 11:30 – 6:00; Sundays 11:30 – 4:00
Closed Saturdays