Eating Vegan In Yakushima
If you are planning a trip to Yakushima but are worried about finding vegan food, I feel you.
I was pretty anxious about the vegan options, but luckily (as always), I was able to make do and actually eat pretty well.
I stayed in Anbo, on the eastern part of the island, which does not have any specifically vegan or vegetarian restaurants. However, I still managed to find a sufficient number of vegan options at restaurants.
For bentos to eat during long hikes, I had to get a bit creative as there are no combinis or vegan bentos sold in the area. More on that below.
Disclaimer: I have not tried any of the restaurants listed that are outside of the Anbo area, these are just places I had bookmarked based on the research I did prior to going. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a car so I was not able to drive to any of these places.
Read on for my complete survival guide to eating vegan in Yakushima.
Vegan options in Yakushima, Kagoshima
Eastern Yakushima (Anbo)
Seirios was my favorite restaurant in the Anbo area. We went twice over 4 days. It’s modern, clean, and serves great food. I especially loved their tofu. It’s really fresh and has great texture.
It even has an English menu, which is pretty hilariously translated (see below), but it gets the point across.
It also sells local craft beer from Catch the Beer brewery. I loved the Yakushima Cedar flavor.
It is slightly more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but I felt the prices were justified by the quality of the food.
Vegan options include:
- Vegetable tempura (avocado, mushroom, tofu, okra)
- Tofu salad (so delicious)
- Onigiri (ume or sesame)
- French fries
- Udon (ask for soy sauce instead of the normal sauce, which contains fish)
SanpoTei is another modern izakaya with a gorgeous wooden interior that makes you feel like you are in a cabin.
Ask for the vegetarian menu once you are seated. It’s full of spelling errors and also includes some clearly non-vegetarian options such as scallops, but they try their best to label the menu items that are suitable for vegetarians/vegans.
Some options include:
- French fries (get the herb flavor– SO GOOD)
- Tofu & greens salad (maybe ask for a different dressing though. I don’t think the dressing they use is vegan)
- Tororo don (grated yam over rice. Ask for no egg)
- Chips & salsa
Yaedake Shokudo is a small, family-run restaurant serving up Japanese and Chinese food.
We went one night just to go somewhere more traditional, plus it appeared to have a vegetable stir fry set meal that was intriguing.
However, when we got there, we realized this “vegetable stir fry” set came with meat and fish. So, not an option.
So, instead we opted for:
- Green salad (again, I don’t think the dressing was vegan so ask them not to include it or ask if they have something else)
- Stir fried veggies (I thought it would be only veggies, but it came with pork. Make sure to ask for no meat)
- French fries
- Onigiri (salt flavor. surprisingly good. I ended up deconstructing them and eating them with my stir fried veggies)
Naa Yuu Cafe
Naa Yuu Cafe is a cozy cafe with a clean, wooden interior design.
It has a vegan lunch plate, which comes with focaccia, fried taro balls, and two curries.
You can also sit outside on their terrace, which overlooks the mountain and the sea.
Nomado Cafe is a small, hip cafe that serves bean curry and a variety of drinks such as coffee, homemade ginger ale, and tea.
Close to some hiking spots, it’s a good place to go after a long day of trekking. The owners also speak English and are friendly (according to reviews).
Il Mare is an Italian restaurant close to the airport. The menu includes pasta, pizza, risotto, and desserts.
They can make you a vegan pasta if you ask, and there is marinara pizza as well. For appetizers, you can get sautéed mushrooms with balsamic sauce, which appears to be vegan.
Hiyoriya is the only truly vegan-friendly restaurant on the island. It doesn’t use any dairy, fish, or meat products and everything is locally sourced and made in-house. It is ubiquitously beloved by both vegans and non-vegans alike, so you know it’s good!
There is limited seating, so it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation before you go.
You can expect beautifully presented set meals with fresh tofu, miso soup, brown rice, and organic vegetables.
Panorama is a sleek, modern izakaya-style restaurant located close to the port. According to reviews, you can ask for a vegan donburi (rice bowl), which comes with avocado and tofu on top of rice. Other options include a fresh vegetable plate, pickles, and sorbet.
There’s also a good selection of local craft beer for my fellow beer lovers!
Tips for DIY Bentos/Meal Prepping
Since there were no combinis around me that sold onigiri or other vegan options, I had to prepare my own bento for hikes.
I recommend finding the closest grocery store (in Anbo it would be Ban Chan) and buying a few items so that you can meal prep. Make sure your hotel has a microwave and fridge, though! My hotel had a fridge in the room and a communal microwave in the kitchen, which was very helpful.
What I did was buy salad with just vegetables (e.g. cabbage, lettuce, carrots), microwaveable rice packets, avocado, fried tofu, and a small bottle of dressing. I also bought natto and bananas for breakfast.
On the morning of each hiking day, I heated up the rice, cut up the avocado and tofu, and threw it all on the base salad. At lunch, I then added the dressing and mixed everything together. It was actually really delicious and filling!
For breakfast, I ate natto and rice with a banana on the side, and this was enough to hold me over until lunch.
More Than Just Plain Rice
Yakushima is such a wonderful, special island that I would hate for you to feel hesitant to go for fear of not being able to eat anything!
But fear not, my friends. While it’s certainly not the most vegan-friendly island in the world, you will be fine and may even have a few delicious, satisfying meals that consist of more than just plain rice. I certainly did.
Let me know if you’ve been to Yakushima and what your favorite places are!