Plant-Based Japan Travel – Hokkaido

Hokkaido is best known for postcard perfect winter scenery, nature and the best local produce in Japan. In summer, it has sweeping fields of wheat, flowers and lush green forests. Even though Hokkaido is overall not as veg*n-friendly as Tokyo or Kyoto, it still offers a good amount of veg*n food spots. In fact, I had the best meals of my trip here. Here’s the list of places we ate at and more we discovered along the way.

The following places are mapped here. You can also use this map to get directions, or make a copy to edit it if needed. Highly recommend renting a car, as every destination is quite far apart, especially the food places. We rented ours through HIS Singapore. They advised to avoid driving in winter or after dark.

We usually ate lunch out and cooked simple dinners in our Airbnb. Many eateries aren’t open past 5pm and eating out is more expensive. Most Japan’s Airbnbs allow cooking and will come equipped with basic kitchen supplies, like fridge, stove and microwave.

Notes:

  • Veg*n is a shortened, inclusive term to refer to vegans and vegetarians.
  • This article is solely based on my experiences and research, thus may not represent the whole of Hokkaido.
  • Muslim vegans – here’s a restaurant and hotel guide for Muslim visitors to Hokkaido – vegetarian options indicated.
  • Accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed as there may be changes to the eatery’s operations.

 

Sapporo

The capital of Hokkaido and likely the most veg*n friendly! It was my favourite city out of the 7 we visited. Sapporo seems to be designed as a walkable city (in good weather) with a North American style rectangular street system. The scale of the city feels perfect – vibrant multi-use public spaces, low buildings framing an endless blue sky that meets mountains. If you’re looking for a mild temperature, quieter place to relax in with all the amenities of a city, visit Sapporo in summer.

Here’s the Muslim-friendly map for Sapporo, but not all the places listed may have veg*n food. The Samurai Ramen is vegan too! Note that Iki Laboratory closes end September 2018.

New Chitose Airport Domestic Terminal

Ajisai (non-veg)

  • Alliums: Does not seem present, recommend to state while ordering
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

Short walk from the arrival terminal. Available in shio (salt) and soy sauce flavour, I requested no egg just in case. Although it was just veggies, mushrooms and noodles, it was tasty, hit the spot after a long flight, with a generous amount of wok-hei. Review.

Slightly salty – but that’s normal in Japan.

Near Sapporo Station

There’s a few non-veg places with vegan food (mainly sushi places) in the malls connected to Sapporo station. Sapporo Station is huge and quite confusing, so ask the station staff or information counter for directions. Simply show them the name or address in Japanese and they can tell you which way to go.

Off Grid Physical Cafe (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present, they can do allium-free if given advance notice
  • Alcohol: None tasted, shop sells alcohol

About 10min walk from Sapporo Station, and one of the rare vegan places that are open till late for dinner. A bit hard to find as it’s in a residential area and the sign is small. Located on the second floor, take the elevator up. Review.

The kelp soup was incredible!

Petit Caco (vegan)

  • Alliums: None
  • Alcohol: Some desserts may contain it, please check

Handmade raw vegan cakes! On the pricey side but I highly recommend trying one or two pieces because they were amazing! Hands down the best raw vegan desserts I’ve tasted. They can also do whole birthday cakes. Reveiw.

They were as good as they looked.

Maruyama Koen

A few places are concentrated around this area. There’s about 4 veg*n eateries, 1 bakery and 1 health shop near Maruyama Koen station. I’ll recommend getting an Airbnb in this area to have easy access to lunch, ready-made foods and groceries for breakfast and dinner. 

Aoi Sora (vegan)

  • Alliums: Unsure – not tasted in the food, please check.
  • Alcohol: Unsure – no tasted in the food, please check. Shop may sell alcohol.

Cozy, amazing food, friendly English-speaking staff with English menu. Serves delicious and healthy Japanese-style meals with some gluten-free bakes at the counter. Reveiw.

We waited quite a bit for this – but it was totally worth the wait.

Huluta Pan (vegan)

  • Alliums: Present in some items, please check
  • Alcohol: Likely not present, please check

Sapporo’s only pure vegan bakery with incredible breads made from natural yeast. There’s no seats inside so we stood outside to eat (eating while walking is considered rude in Japan). Reveiw.

Try their black sugar muffins!

Rarubatake (non-veg*n)

A health shop with lots of vegan groceries like soy mayo, vegan brown rice instant noodles, organic fruits and veggies. Not everything here is vegetarian. Right beside Huluta Pan.

Also bought the yummiest silken tofu from this fridge.

 

Asahikawa

Asahikawa may be Hokkaido’s second largest city, but its not known to be a tourist centre. We ended up staying here because our Airbnb country house in Biei got cancelled due to Japan’s new home sharing laws. The nearest available one was here. It turned out to be a great thing as there were plenty of good food in this city!

Here’s the Muslim-friendly map for Asahikawa, but not all the places listed may have veg*n food.

Asahikawa City Centre

Cafe 0831 (vegan)

  • Alliums: Some dishes contain it, please check
  • Alcohol: Smoothie contains amazake, please check

Incredibly friendly folks serving up healthy fusion food in a peaceful and cozy cafe. The guy, Koji, speaks fantastic English and made us feel at home! Note that it’s located at the corner of outside a building so keep your eyes peeled. We had a great value lunch set complete with smoothie, soup, rice, 4 side dishes, cookies and dandelion coffee. Reveiw.

The croquette was our favourite!

Asahikawa Station

Dapas Bakery (non-veg*n)

  • Alliums: Some breads contain it
  • Alcohol: Some bakes may contain it

Allergens clearly listed. The lady at the counter understood basic English and could recommend which drink had no dairy. Breads were crisp outside and soft inside – heavenly. Reveiw.

The Americano was bad though. Seems like they usually depend heavily on milk and sugar to flavour coffee.

Near Asahikawa Airport

Maru Soba (non-veg*n)

  • Alliums: Some dishes have, can request without
  • Alcohol: Shop sells alcohol

Homely restaurant in the owner’s house. Specialises in traditional handmade soba. Hands down the best meal I had in the whole of my Japan trip! The lime soba had only 3 ingredients but the flavours were so uplifting and memorable. Review.

Only available during summer. No it’s not too sour – Japanese lime is different from our lime.

Notable mentions

Cafe de Amahoro (vegan)

  • Alliums and alcohol: Can request without while ordering

This is not a physical cafe, but the lady lives within Asahikawa and can do vegan bentos. You can order by messaging her over Facebook. I recommend it if you’re going to somewhere without foods you can eat.

Furano

Furano is famous for seasonal flowers. In summer, lavender is in bloom, which attracts hordes of domestic and Asian tourists.

Farm Tomita

Navo (vegan)

  • Alliums: Unsure
  • Alcohol: Sells alcohol

We attempted to go there after visiting Farm Tomita as it was the nearest (about 10 mins drive). We reached at 1.30pm and was surprised to see it’s closed, even though their Facebook indicated open. The lady there was very apologetic that lunch was sold out. A local vegan later told me that their opening hours are quite irregular despite serving good food. Still an option in this area, but recommend to PM them over Facebook before visiting.

Ramen Restaurant Shojikimura (non-veg*n)

  • Alliums: Unsure
  • Alcohol: Seems to sell alcohol

Didn’t go here but it’s highly recommended by a nice local vegan lady we met. Has at least one vegan ramen. Also within Furano, walking distance from Navo.

Mamedetassha (vegan)

  • Alliums: Some dishes contain it, request without while ordering
  • Alcohol: None

Slightly outside Furano. After visiting Navo only to find it’s closed, we drove 20mins here – and had the best curry and corn dishes! A homely cafe in a wooden house, run by a couple. Has an English menu and the friendly guy who cooks can speak basic English. Review.

I had the simple set – was quite filling, fresh and great value for money!

 

TOmamu ski resort

The only major hiccup in our travel plan happened here. Contrary to my expectations, this popular ski resort is not vegan-friendly, despite hosting many foreign visitors (which is why I advise to carry backup energy bars when travelling). But if you are lacto-ovo-veg, Afuri can make a vegetarian ramen (noodles have egg). Party Deli Green Package had some Italian-style side dishes that seemed vegan but they were served cold. Altezza Tomamu is an Italian restaurant so they might have vegan dishes, but it’s expensive. We came here mainly to see Tadao Ando’s Chapel on the Water, but it was closed for a wedding – only then we found out that it’s open during dark hours, which are not good times to drive. We had a light lunch of Hokkaido potatoes and melon from some small stalls on the resort grounds. Although not the most substantial, we enjoyed it as it was the first time we had fresh local produce.

Hokkaido melon is as sweet as legend says!

Previous: Preparation . Next: Tokyo Part 1

 

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