Are you moving to Japan as a vegan or coming here for a longer stay?
Then this article is for you!
It is highly advisable to stock up on certain things that might not be as readily available or cheap as back home. Keep in mind that there is no widespread labeling of vegan products in Japan which can make it hard to find certain products. However, costumer service (in Japanese) is very good and if you happen to write to a company about the ingredients or production process of their products they usually respond back fast.
Clothes & Shoes
If you’re planning to stay in Japan and are a Bigfoots like me it is better to bring a nice pair of vegan leather shoes for work or festive occasions. Sneakers can be purchased in larger sizes within Japan but the glue might contain animal-derived ingredients. A nice vegan belt is also a good investment before you come.
If you’re heading to North Japan or are staying over winter, don’t forget to bring a good winter coat. Unfortunately, down jackets are very popular in Japan and it is hard to find warm alternatives here. Except Hokkaido and Tōhoku region, most places around central or south Japan don’t get too cold though and you’ll be okay with layering thick clothes.
Personal Care & Bathroom
Personally I believe that starting your vegan life in Japan is much easier if you don’t have to begin from zero right away. Stock up on cremes, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste etc. and then try finding available alternatives within Japan as time progresses. Also – this is no joke – pack deodorant. The selection of deodorant (not even speaking of vegan here) is minimal in Japan and it does not seem to work as good as brands sold overseas. Don’t forget to bring strong vegan sunscreen to Japan as well.
Good to know for people with menstruations: Stock up on vegan hygiene products. Japan is big on sanitary pads but tampons can be hard to find or very expensive. They also often contain toxic chemicals, are tested on animals or even contain animal-derived ingredients. Make sure your hygiene products are good for the environment and yourself. A good read for vegan options is this guide by PETA. Personally, I highly recommend a menstruation cup (my favourite is from Lunette). It spares you a ton of trash and is made from non-toxic silicone.
Even though Japan is one of the biggest markets for beauty products, vegan labeling is hardly anywhere to be seen. Moreover, if your skin is a lighter or darker than the average Japanese person it may also be difficult to find a suitable shade of foundation in Japan. Generally speaking, bring your favourite products and order replacements on iHerb.com later on.
Luckily Japan is the land of soy and you’ll get tofu at every corner. However you might still miss a few things that might not be as available as back home. Here are a few things that you might want to stock up on before moving here:
- vegetable soup broth
- vegan cheese
- faux meat & textured soy products
- nuts & dried fruits
- non-dairy “butter” spread
- nutritional yeast
- nut butter
- oats & cereals
- herb or fruit tea
- kala namak black salt (makes scrambled tofu even better!)
And last but not least: For everyone with a sweet tooth, pack some of your favourite vegan candy, biscuits or chocolate (like Vego Chocolate)!
Bring enough vitamin supplements like B12 or any medication you need. If you plan to be sexually active also better bring some vegan condoms (most condoms contain casein and are there not vegan).
Don’t have enough space to stock up on things?
Than I highly recommend Amazon.co.jp or iHerb.com both have an English interface available and easily ship within or to Japan. Some popular vegan organic brands can also be purchased for a good deal on Rakuten.co.jp. If you prefer shopping in a physical store, Lush is available in most bigger Japanese cities and clearly labels their products as vegan or vegetarian. You can also often find Cosme Kitchen – a Japanese chain store that sells organic beauty and personal care products.
PS: You get 5% off on iHerb if you use the links provided in this article! Happy shopping!