Although it can be difficult for vegetarians traveling to Japan since fish is a national staple, Kyoto—known for its shojin ryori cuisine and use of tofu—has a variety of meat-free restaurants.
Inside the grounds of Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shigetsu is a vegetarian restaurant that specializes in traditional Japanese Buddhist cuisine (aka shojin ryori). Customers enjoy the view of peaceful zen gardens as they eat on traditional tatami mats. This Michelin-approved vegetarian restaurant only opens at lunch and serves a choice of three set meals: 3300, 5500 or 8000 yen. It's advised to make reservations at least one day ahead of time.
Address: 68 Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8385 A five-minute walk from Arashiyama Station, Keifuku Arashiyama line.
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:00 am-2:00 pm
Tip: The kitchen may stop serving 30-60 minutes prior to closing, so be there early to save your spot!
If you are desperate to find a vegan restaurant, look no more! This spot will allow you to grab some vegan dishes and vegetarian bites as well as shop for organic products at the same time? Look no further than Vegans Cafe and Restaurant, which serves a variety of Japanese and American dishes such as char-grilled bbq tofu rice, soy milk miso ramen, fried tofu, soy ice cream parfait and organic coffee. This family-run business located in the heart of Kyoto (0.9 km away from Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine) sources most of its ingredients from local organic farmers.
Address: Fushimi-ku Fukakusa Nishi Uramachi 4-chome 88, Kyoto, 612-0029
Hours: Sun-Tues 11:30 am-5:00 pm, Thurs-Fri 11:30 am-5:00 pm, Sat 11:30 am-9:00 pm.
Tip: Vegans Cafe and Restaurant’s hours vary quite frequently, so if you’re planning on making a trip just to eat, make sure to call ahead of time to double-check they’re still open.
Located in Nishiki Market, aka "the kitchen of Kyoto,” Kyoto Beans Confectioneries specializes in making various flavor-coated beans, all of which are vegetarian-friendly but only a select few vegan options (you can always double-check with the staff—click here for helpful phrases to use). If you’re feeling ambitious and craving some unique ice cream, Kyoto Beans Confectioneries also sells soy milk black bean flour ice cream and tofu ice cream. The soy milk black bean flour ice cream is perfect for vegans as it is made without dairy or eggs.
Address: 604-8125, 505 Nakauoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8125 If you're having trouble finding Kyoto Beans and Confectioneries in Nishiki market, look out for its traditional floral decorations.
Hours: Mon-Sun 10:00 am-6:00 am
Mumokuteki Cafe is a vegetarian restaurant located in the Teramachi shopping district of Kyoto that was reformed into a two-floor cafe with a vintage lifestyle boutique on the second floor in 2016. Serving an array of sweet and savory vegetarian fare—like veggie ramen and vegan ice cream sundaes—this family-friendly cafe is the perfect location for an afternoon snack.
Address: 2F Human Forum Building. Gokkomachi Rokkaku Sagaru, Iseya-cho 351, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8061
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:30 am - 9:00 pm, Wednesdays are closed, last calls are at 8:00 pm
5. Veggie Cafe
Although its doorway is hidden away and the space itself is small, Veggie Cafe is worth the visit. This gourmet and intimate cafe serves fluffy pitas, fries and falafels. The restaurant runs as a one-man show, which means you may have to wait, but it's worth it.
Address: 537 Nishikiinokumacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8363
Hours: Sun-Sat 5:30 pm-8:30 pm, Wednesdays are closed
6. Falafel Garden
Falafel Garde in the city centre of Kyoto (two-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station) boasts a vegetarian menu serving Israeli Middle Eastern dishes that are otherwise difficult to find in Japan, like crispy falafel and creamy hummus.
Address: 5-2 Tanaka Kamiyanagicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8205
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-9:30 pm
Only a short walk from Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Yudofu Sagano is a vegetarian staple in Kyoto that offers only one menu item: the yudofu, a simmering broth filled with chunks of tofu accompanied by plates of small dishes. Tucked away in a neighborhood in the Arashiyama district, Yudofu Sagano serves customers who sit comfortably in front of a colorful garden. During high season, they don't allow reservations, so be prepared to wait.
Tip: Keep in mind that there is dashi stock in the soy sauce. Click here to learn how to ask if a meal is strictly vegetarian.
Address: 45 Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8385, Japan
Hours: Sun-Fri 11:00 am-7:00 pm, Sat 11:00 am-6:00 pm
In Kyoto, tofu can be elevated to a form of art. Take Tosuiro Kiyamachi, for example, a vegetarian restaurant serving set meals of varied tofu dishes such as corn daifuku, caramelized grilled tofu, vegetarian sushi, soy ice cream and tempura with green tea salt. Guests may choose outdoor dining decks that present views of the Kamogawa River as they are served by Kimono-clad waitresses. With the colorful food, exceptional service and memorable views, even non-vegetarians will fall in love with Tosuiro.
Tip: Although most of the dishes are primarily made of tofu, some of the broth contains bonito. Click here to learn how to ask if a meal is strictly vegetarian.
Address: 517-3 Kamiosakamachi, Sanjo Agaru Kiyacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0961, Kyoto Prefecture
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am - 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Sat-Sun 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Yoshuji is one of the best places to eat in Kurama. This sophisticated vegetarian restaurant offers a variety of dishes—from sets of shojin ryori meals to simple bowls of noodles. It’s located below the ticket gate entrance for Kiyomizu-dera Temple grounds and is a two-minute walk from Kurama Station, Eizan line.
Tip: If you plan on staying in Kurama for the entire day, you can take a hike through Mount Kurama and end your day with Yoshuji.
Address: 1074-2 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1111, Japan
Hours: Sun-Sat 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Tuesdays are closed
If you’re looking for a meal with simple and healthy ingredients but rich flavors, Hale is the place to be. This vegetarian restaurant in Kyoto serves an array of dishes, spanning from different variations of tofu to donburis (rice bowls). Although you may need to venture your way through the Nishiki Market to find Hale and ask your way for directions, the experience will not disappoint. All meals are prepared with care, and Hale offers a tranquil atmosphere. Unfortunately, to sustain a peaceful and quiet environment, Hale does not allow kids.
Tip: Hale can be hard to find and easy to miss, especially when the market is busy. Once you’re in Nishiki Market, keep your eyes out for Hale in red letters on a glass door next to a sweet shop stall and the Hale restaurant sign that’s above eye level.
Address: Higashiuoyacho, Nakagyoku, Kyoto 604-8055, Kyoto Prefecture
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:30 am-3:00 pm, Mondays are closed
READ MORE: A Guide To All Things Vegetarian In Japan
Located near the university, Sujata is a vegetarian restaurant in Kyoto that serves everything from Japanese-style lunch set to Indian curry for reasonable prices. The relaxing atmosphere coupled with the friendly service of the owner—an old grandma who personally cooks all the food!—creates one of the best vegetarian experiences yet.
Address: 96-2 Tanaka Monzencho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8225, Japan
Hours: Mon-Tues 11:30 am-6:00 pm, Wednesdays are closed, Thurs-Sat 11:30 am-6:00 pm, Sun 11:30 am-4:00 pm
12. Veg Out
Known for its exceptional view of the river, relaxing vibe and intimate atmosphere, Veg Out out is a go-to hub for vegetarian food in Kyoto, with a small menu of simple, fresh dishes (the Buddha bowl is a must-try).
Address: 448 Inaricho, Shomogyo-ku | Kamogawa Bldg.1F, Kyoto 600-8133 Across from the Shichijo Rail Station
Hours: Tues-Sun 8:00 am-9:00 pm, Mondays are closed
If you’re looking for some quick bites, Vege Deli Kanna - Shokudo is the place to go. This stall offers a wide variety of vegetarian-friendly dishes such as kitsune udon, but make sure to ask the English-speaking staff to reaffirm that the base broth isn’t sourced from meat. Vege Deli Kanna is located in Kyoto Tower basement food court, and although the location isn’t the most glamorous, it sure has a welcoming and warm atmosphere with friendly staff.
Address: 721-1 Higashishiokojicho Karasumadori Shichijo Kudaru | Kyoto Tower Sando B1F, Shimogyo, Kyoto 600-8216
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-11:00 pm
Kyoto Engine Ramen serves modern ramen with vegetarian options. They offer vegetable gyozas and two different vegan ramen options: soy ramen and zesty spicy ramen. Although their vegetarian options are limited, the ones offered are creamy and very aromatic. At Kyoto Engine Ramen, you’ll also be able to experience a unique ordering method...through a vending machine! All you have to do is select your meal on the machine and take a seat; the food will be served to you.
Address: 452-1 Matsugaecho Kyogoku Bldg. 1F, Nakagyo, Kyoto 604-8034 Kyoto Prefecture
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-3:30 pm, 5:00 pm-9:30 pm, Sat-Sun 11:30 am-9:30 pm
15. Ain Soph.Journey
Ain Soph.Journey is a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free-friendly restaurant chain that offers American-Japanese fusion fare. The newly opened Kyoto branch features a diverse menu of plant-based dishes such as mushroom Hayashi rice, curries, vegan pancakes and cheesecake.
Address: 538-6, Nakanocho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan, 604-8042 A three-minute walk from Nishiki Market.
Hours: Sun-Sat 12:00 pm-4:00 pm, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm
Inside the temple in Uji, Kyoto, you’ll find Hakuun-an, a restaurant featuring Chinese-style fucha-ryori cuisine—in addition to zazen (guided meditation courses), shakyo (sutra copying) and other Buddhist zen activities to complement your dining experience. There’s a bento boxed option or the choice of two courses (tiered based on price) that come with two soups and six side dishes.
Address: 34 Gokasho Sanban-wari, Uji, Kyoto, 611-0011
Hours: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (lunch only)
Omen is an udon restaurant that offers vegetarian options in northern Kyoto—with a limited offering for vegans. Known for its popularity and sustained high standards of quality, customers can enjoy their udon in tatami seats, counter seats or table seats.
Address: Sakyō-ku, Jōdoji Ishibashichō, Kyoto, 06-840610-minute walk from Ginkakuji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-9:00 pm
Biotei, which doubles as a grocery store, offers options for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans alike—making it the perfect spot for a diverse group traveling together. Be warned: it's TINY, but then again... that's part of the charm. There's always a macrobiotic lunch or dinner set, all of the ingredients for which are organic and sourced locally. Expect to find deep-fried tofu, potato salad, pickles, miso soup and more.
Address: Umetadacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8136, Japan
TIP: If you have trouble finding Biotei, look for the Sanjodori Post Office. It's diagonally across the street on the second floor, and not too far from the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
Hours: Tues, Wed, Fri 11:30am - 2pm, 5pm - 8:30pm, Thurs 11:30am - 2pm, Sat 5pm - 8:30pm
Heading to Tokyo as well? Don't miss our list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants there, too.