Home Insurance The Essential Gluten Free Guide to Japan (2024 Update)

The Essential Gluten Free Guide to Japan (2024 Update)


All around the world, people are discovering that gluten-free products are not only widely available, but also amazingly tasty. Japan is no exception, and in a country that ranks in the top 10 in the world for celiac disease, that is no surprise.

Hello, I am the author of the “Cheapest Travel Insurance”. You can read my other articles on my blog < https://cheapesttravelinsurance.com/ >.

In 2024, 1 in 8 Japanese will be diagnosed with Celiac disease. In twenty years, the disease can begin to cause serious problems, including: malnourishment, osteoporosis and infertility. Seeking a cure for Celiac disease has become the main cause for the Japanese government to invest in the development of new medications for the disease. Some of the medications that are being tested include: vaccines, artificial blood and the introduction of gluten-free food.

When I told my friends and family that I was going to Japan on a 15-day repositioning trip across the Pacific Ocean, they were all curious about what I would do during 8 days at sea. What I really wanted to know was what I would eat as a celiac in Japan, a nation that consumes a lot of wheat. This gluten-free Japan article includes a description of not just what I ate, but also information on some of the country’s delicacies, as well as a Japanese translation card to help you explore Japan with less anxiety.

THE LAST TIME IT WAS UPDATED WAS ON JUNE 13, 2024. Unfortunately, a few renowned celiac restaurants have closed as a result of the epidemic, notably Japan Crepe and both Hiroshima locations.

gluten free guide to japan

Do you already have a gluten-free translation card in mind? You may purchase my Japanese card, as well as cards from Italy, Greece, Spain, and other countries, here! 

An Overview of Gluten-Free Japan

gluten free japan: an essential guide to eating and visiting. This picture is of Higashi Chayagai, the Eastern Entertainment District, in Kanazawa Japan.In Kanazawa, Japan, the Eastern Entertainment District is known as Higashi Chayagai.

People frequently believe that celiacs will have an easy time in Japan. After all, there’s plenty of rice, and sushi is usually considered to be gluten-free. Unfortunately, soy sauce (which includes wheat), barley, and wheat flour abound in Japanese cuisine, and even simple sushi rice may contain a vinegar that combines barley malt and rice vinegar, leading celiacs to suffer.

Rice, rather than wheat, was traditionally cultivated and utilized in Japanese cuisine. Wheat was not the common filler it is now, even if it was eaten in modest amounts. Wheat imports have risen consistently since the 1950s, thanks in part to an intensive advertising effort and subsidized wheat-filled lunches given to Japan by the US government after WWII, as Slate’s Nadia Arumugam points out.

It’s almost impossible to avoid gluten these days, what with quick ramen noodles, wheat-filled sweet buns and custard desserts, and wheat-containing soy sauce.

Is it Safe for a Celiac to Travel to Japan?

My worries were justified. I felt ill a few of times and couldn’t figure out what I’d eaten. Despite utilizing a Japanese gluten-free translation card and having a guide with me for part of the trip, I hadn’t done any pre-travel study. Furthermore, the gluten-free card was pretty general — it just said, “I cannot eat wheat, barley, rye, or soy sauce,” and indicated that I had a condition that caused me to get ill.

Though I appreciate that the card was provided, because of the extreme abundance of wheat in Japan, it was not as comprehensive as was required. People attempted to assist, but despite reading the card, they failed to see that soy sauce included wheat flour, or that miso should only be consumed if prepared from rice, which was more difficult to come by. For a more comprehensive description of what may include gluten, I produced the card below, which I then hired a translator to interpret.

I would encourage celiacs to go to the country since it is stunningly lovely. However, be prepared to be cautious about your food, patient with people who do not understand your worries about their products, and lose out on part of what makes the nation so unique: its culinary marvels.

When the card was presented to the Japanese, they took it extremely seriously. It wasn’t that they were dismissive or claimed there wasn’t any wheat. On the contrary, I believe it stressed people out since they didn’t fully get what I was attempting to prevent. There are certain nations where celiac disease and allergies are not taken seriously. One of them isn’t Japan. Communication was the most difficult issue, as did reading grocery store labels.

This gluten-free guide to Japan was created in the aim of assisting those of you who have celiac disease or are gluten-free in avoiding foods that will make you sick. It isn’t simple, but it is possible. I wish I’d done all of my research in advance. Consider it as if I were to become ill and learn as I go so you don’t have to!

Concerns about offending the chef by altering the menu

Aside from the wheat, I was worried about offending the chef by being a fussy eater and failing to communicate my reasons. The Japanese notion of culinary artists, shokunin, such as Jiro in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is not to be underestimated. In Matt Goulding’s latest book, Rice, Noodle, Fish, published by Roads and Kingdoms in collaboration with Anthony Bourdain, shokunin is described as follows:

“At the heart of Japanese culture is the idea of shokunin, a craftsperson who is completely devoted to his or her trade. […] Tokyo has a population of ten thousand shokunin. If you’re going to Japan to eat, you’re going to eat them.”

I didn’t want to offend a craftsman by throwing art in his face. However, I couldn’t consume their meal as is without being ill. Even though I spent part of my stay in Japan with a guide, I still felt sick from the abundance of wheat and cross-contact in the food, as I mentioned below.

In Japanese, a gluten-free restaurant card

This card was the first in a series of gluten-free instructions and local language cards, and I’m looking forward to working with celiacs and translators to create comprehensive and safe cards for us to use on the road.

Each card in the guide has been prepared using celiac-specific information, cross-contamination warnings, and double-checked professional translation from native speakers.

Note: You may buy the card from a reputable 3rd party site that utilizes https, so you can be certain that your information is secure.

What makes this Japanese translation card unique?

gluten free card in japanese that includes mention of cross contamination, to present to restaurants.

On my trips, I tried many different translation cards and still felt sick. I may be more sensitive to symptoms than other celiacs, but even a little quantity of contaminated frying oil or soy sauce in the meal might make me sick for days. Even though celiacs do not experience symptoms from cross-contact, it is still harmful to our health since our systems are unable to break down gluten.

So! This is the card:

  • A celiac who enjoys eating conducted the study (ahem, that is meeee).
  • It went through two translations for accuracy, one from a Japanese speaker who loves to eat and the other from someone who knows about celiac disease.
  • It makes explicit note of cross-contamination risks and utilizes local food names.
  • It recommends rice, rice noodles, and pure buckwheat as options for cooks.

Following your purchase, you will get an email with an English translation of the card.

I emailed it to readers who were going to Japan to try it out, and they said it was extremely useful and that they didn’t get ill. Nicole, a reader, writes:

Hello, Jodi. I obviously don’t understand what’s stated in English on the card, but it’s great and saved my life the other night. The edamame at the restaurant where we dined is cooked in the same water as the udon noodles. When I stated I could have edamame, the poor server kept pointing to the card until he figured out how they prepared them. Needless to say, I didn’t eat much that night, but I also wasn’t poisoned. Indispensable. Thank you one again.

The translation card may be purchased here.

Dishes & Snacks for Gluten-Free Eating in Japan

gluten free sushi in tokyo: sashimi options always a good bet. This is hotate, scallops, one of my faves.In a Tokyo sushi stall, a scallop (hotate) is served.

Understanding basic kanji so you can read ingredients, understanding what is safe and dangerous, and being able to display a card that may assist you are much more essential than an address where you may not be confronted with a waiter or staff who can speak. That said, Sarah, a fellow celiac, kindly included a list of gluten-free eateries in Japan at the conclusion of the article.

This kind of information helps me to feel less anxious when I travel as a celiac. I didn’t do it before this trip, and I’m sorry I didn’t.

Is MSG Gluten-Free? Is MSG Gluten-Free?

During my investigation, I discovered that several websites mention MSG as a wheat derivative. Although there has been debate on the internet regarding whether MSG is harmful to celiacs, the US Food and Drug Administration states:

Does the presence of glutamate in a product imply that it includes gluten?

Gluten has nothing to do with glutamate or glutamic acid. A person with celiac disease may have an allergic reaction to the wheat in soy sauce, but not to the MSG.

Furthermore, the Gluten Free Dietician verifies that, although MSG was formerly produced from wheat flour, this is no longer the case in North America and hasn’t been since the 1960s. However, several websites claim that Japanese and Chinese MSG may still isolate the chemical through wheat gluten.

However, Ajinomoto, the largest manufacturer of MSG in Japan, does not get its MSG from wheat. The following is an excerpt from the blog Just Hungry:

Now, let’s talk about Ajinomoto, the white granular substance associated with MSG: It is presently produced by “fermenting the sugar derived from sugar canes or maize, tapioca starch, and other components,” according to the official Japanese Ajinomoto business website.

Of course, other businesses in the Asian or Southeast Asian area may still do so. It’s worth noting that the majority of MSG I observed in Vietnam and Japan was Ajinomoto. After years of stuffing my face in Asia, I’ve discovered that accidental glutening is caused by soy sauce or flour-based sauces, not MSG.

I’d want to hear about other people’s experiences on this forum.

Some Gluten-Free Izakaya Locations

During my stay in Japan, we visited a number of izakaya pubs. Izakayas are informal drinking and dining establishments that are smoky from grilled meat and noisy from beer-fueled customers who are hungry and conversant.

While nearly all of the cuisine at an izakaya contains wheat or soy, you may request that your beef or chicken skewers (yakitori) be cooked using a salt (shio) cooking method rather than the sweet and sour sauce (called tare). 

Only use salt, and make sure the meat hasn’t been pre-marinated. Use the gluten-free restaurant card to double-check that the grill is gluten-free. The restaurants where I visited had a portion of the grill set off for salt-only yakitori, so the flavors of the other sauces and marinades didn’t contaminate the yakitori. As a celiac, this was handy, but not all restaurants would accommodate you. I ate a bunch of yakitori that had not been pre-marinated and were just dusted with salt and grilled.

Buckwheat is a grain that is gluten-free.

It’s rare to get 100 percent buckwheat (soba) noodles in North America. Buckwheat does not include any wheat and does not contain gluten, despite its name. Buckwheat has been supplying people with protein, zinc, and potassium for over 8,000 years, having originally appeared in the Balkans around 4000 BC.

Many dried and fresh varieties of soba noodles in Japan are combined with wheat, despite the fact that they are more common in Japan than in North America. During my travels, I only came across one noodle restaurant that served 100% buckwheat noodles, which were much more costly than the typical soba menu.

Because the restaurant had added soy sauce to the broth for flavoring, I was unable to consume the noodles with soup stock. They were nice enough to provide me the water in which these identical noodles had been cooked, as well as some freshly grated ginger for flavor.

Despite the theoretically gluten-free foundation component, most soba shops will make noodles with a combination of wheat and buckwheat, so avoid them unless you’re certain they’re entirely buckwheat. But when will you be able to get an all-buckwheat option? You’ll be delighted; they’re delectable.

7-11s and Other Conbinis in Japan Have Gluten-Free Snacks

Whatever part of Japan I was in, there was always a 7-11 or a Family Mart convenience shop nearby, known as konbini in Japanese.

These stores, which were full of interesting ice cream delights and cooked meals in unusual (to this Montrealer) tastes, also had something for the gluten-free diner, even if it was only a nibble. When I couldn’t find anything to eat, I discovered conbini to be a lifesaver, giving me with a variety of protein to keep me going in between meals. These stores are often located near transit hubs like as bus and railway terminals, but there are also many standalone combini. Many of the foods listed below may be found at these shops, which are well-stocked.

  • Tapioca pearls, black tea, and milk are used to make bubble tea. I didn’t try the various flavors since they’re usually prepared using powder, which may include a wheat derivative. If you’re not sure what’s in the powder, stay away. I had many opportunities to sample bubble tea with black tea and soaked tapioca pearls, which included no powder or wheat and just sweetened condensed milk, tapioca, sugar syrup, and tea.
  • Edamame, with the exception that some may be cooked with udon water. They are generally not at combini, and they are safe.
  • Baked sweet potatoes are known as yakiimo. Sauces should be avoided! Just the right amount of salt.
  • Onigiri are rice and seaweed triangles that may be found in railway stations, convenience shops, and grocery stores. You should be aware that the majority of these are off-limits. The pickled plum (ume) onigiri, as well as some of the salmon (sake) ones, were excellent. Please use the kanji below to look up the ingredients on each onigiri before eating.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: These eggs arrive in packets of one or two and are properly cooked within the shell and — strangely — presalted. They were lifesavers, and best of all, they didn’t stink. Yes, I was that uncomfortable person in the park eating hard boiled eggs, but it was better than nothing.
  • Soyjoy granola bars: not the most delectable, but gluten-free for the most part. Of course, check the components.
  • Right off the grill, roasted chestnuts. Calorie-dense, yet delicious.
  • Mochi is a Japanese word that means “little (daifuku). They’re made with rice flour or arrowroot flour, and they’re wonderful with a rice flour coating. I’m glad they exist. Note that they should be bought from a daifuku specialist, since convenience shop versions may include gluten-containing starch syrup. (Keep an eye out for the kanji!) Red bean and black sesame were my favorites.

gluten free japan desserts: an option is mochi, sticky rice balls filled with black or red bean or other fillers.Mochi balls are delicious and attractive.

Sushi, Sashimi, and Sea Creatures Sushi, Sashimi, and Sea Creatures

When the rice vinegar isn’t combined with malt, sashimi and sushi are generally acceptable. I often requested plain white rice rather than sushi rice in situations when I could express myself.

Eel (unagi) should be avoided since it is marinated in a soy-blend.

Show them your gluten-free card if you’re having a donburi bowl, like the tuna one below, so they don’t brush any soy sauce on the rice before putting the fish in the bowl.

in Janan, gluten free dining includes options like this donburi bowl of salmon and tuna sashimi. Ask for plain white rice instead of sushi rice.Donburi bowl with tuna

Morning fish markets, like as those in Kanazawa and Tokyo, are fantastic locations to enjoy fresh sashimi and sushi, as well as freshly shucked oysters. You may also order a scallop, have it shucked right in front of your eyes, and then see it being cooked on a little grill. Simply present the card and request that no soy sauce be served as a condiment. Instead, they used lemon juice.

There are also a lot of sea urchins.

gluten free kanazawa: sea urchin aplenty! From the table to the tongue, it’s all about fresh seafood.

Grilled oysters with lemon juice and soy sauce are also available on the side of the alleyways in Miyajima. Simply request no soy sauce and you’re good to go.

Green Tea Powder (Matcha)

Matcha is a kind of green tea that is produced by crushing young tea leaves into a brilliant green powder. Celiacs may safely consume matcha green tea. Also, it’s tasty.

matcha powder in japan: gluten free and deliciousMatcha tea powder

Kanji for Gluten-Free Foods / Foods to Avoid in Japan

Although the list is lengthy and the wheat abundant, it was very useful to begin remembering what wheat, barley, and rye looked like on Japanese ingredient lists.

Mugi tea should not be consumed if you are gluten intolerant.

While barley had the prettiest name (mugi), it was also a much more common component in Japanese cuisine than in Canada or the United States, particularly in tea (mugicha). While green tea has a brilliant green hue, barley tea is a deeper, earthy brown tone. Stick to green teas or those with soaked leaves visible.

Better the Kanji You Know: Japanese Phrases for Celiacs

(Thank you to reader Sachiko for the updated kanji for whole wheat and rye!)

For starters, you need be familiar with the following two kanji (logographic Chinese characters used in contemporary Japanese writing):

  • Wheat (komugi or komugiko) is a kind of grain.
  • (zen-ryu komugi) (whole wheat)

As previously stated, barley is widely used in Japanese cuisine, including miso soups and tea:

  • mugi (or oo-mugi) is a kind of barley.

Unfortunately, since soy sauce contains wheat flour, it should be avoided as well:

  • shoyu (soy sauce) is a Japanese term for soy sauce. 

Even though it is less common than barley, it should still be avoided:

Wheat gluten, in the form of seitan:

  • Seitan is a fake meat that is often used in vegetarian Buddhist cuisine and in certain tea ceremony foods: 麩 fu

And malt:

Memorize or print them and scan ingredient listings for them. That was me, the strange female at the 7-11 who spent an eternity anxiously scanning the onigiri for these banned components.

Unfortunately, this means no okonomiyaki, which was one of the toughest things for me to let go of.

Okonomiyaki, this photo's from Hiroshima, is not gluten free. Sniff Okonomiyaki in the manner of Hiroshima. Sniff.

In Japan, it’s difficult to avoid soy sauce.

If soy sauce did not include wheat flour, Japanese cuisine would be considerably easier to digest for celiacs. It wasn’t always like this in Japan; if you’re interested in learning more, check out the Soy Info Center’s extremely comprehensive history of soy sauce and tamari. However, the issue remains for our purposes: soy sauce is employed in otherwise gluten-free meals, making them indigestible for those of us who are gluten intolerant.

I don’t expect a foreign nation to pander to my whims or my digestive problems, so I mention this simply as someone who wishes I could sample some of the country’s wonderful cuisine. I felt like a child at a candy shop, except that everything was plastic.

Any dark sauces you encounter may be suspicious, since this component is often what gives them their deeper brown hue. Ponzu, teriyaki, hoisin, and more are among the delectable (but inaccessible) items on this list.

Bringing your own gluten-free soy sauce (available in tiny travel sachets) is an alternative. Because I was traveling from afar, I did not do this, but it is feasible. While we use tamari in the West as a thicker, pure soy sauce without wheat, not all tamari is gluten-free. I couldn’t find any tamari without wheat kanji in the ingredients at Japanese supermarkets. As a consequence, I put tamari on the card’s “cant eat” list.

While we in the West are far more willing to make replacements due to dietary limitations, this is not the case in many other nations. It might be misinterpreted in a nation where individuals train for a decade or more to work behind the sushi bar, as I said at the start of this article.

On Facebook, there is a GF Japan group.

On Facebook, there’s a wonderful Japanese Gluten-Free community (with which I have no connection) that comes highly recommended by other celiacs.

Restaurants in Japan that are gluten-free

This list is constantly updated based on my own experiences as well as the experiences of other celiacs who have visited Japan.

Takayama is gluten-free.

Heianraku is located at 6-7-2 Tenman-chou (Kokubunji street) and may be reached at +81-577-32-3078. Chinese-style Japanese cuisine run by a family. Very nice personnel who went out of their way to talk to me about my sensitivities and clarify what they were using instead of soy sauce and other gluten-containing components in my meal. I had a fantastic dinner here. There is an English menu available, as well as vegetarian and vegan choices. Because there are only 14 seats available, it’s recommended asking your hostel/hotel to call and reserve a table for you.

Nara is gluten-free.

Daifuku deli stand (Nara train station): There is a store beneath the station (sub-level) where I was able to pick up veggie crisps, simple nigiri (only rice), and salad at the Nara train station (the main one, on the Kansai Main line, not the stop on the Kinetsu Nara line). You go through a concourse with dozens of small deli-style food booths before going down the escalator from the station to the store. A stall selling fresh daifuku and mochi is located on your left, just after entering this area and before the escalators. I was able to speak with the owner, and she was able to tell me which ones I could eat since she had the ingredient list with her. The store opens at 10 a.m. and is definitely worth a look. It was, without a doubt, the finest daifuku I had in Japan.

16 Kasuganocho Tel: +81 742-94-7133 Izasa (Sushi restaurant) Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Just outside of the deer park, in a kind of restaurant/shop/café complex. It’s accessed via a store with steps leading up to the restaurant on the second level. The staff was very helpful in advising me on various sushi platters I could have that were gluten-free. I enjoyed a delicious, substantial dinner with a spectacular view (the windows overlook the deer park, where the tops of the temples can be seen). The employees provided a plate for me to pour my tamari sauce into, and I brought my own tamari sauce.

59 Noborioji-cho (near the National Museum), Kamameshi Shizuka(Kouen-Ten), tel: +81-742-27-8030 Open from 1130 a.m. to 730 p.m., The dish is traditional Japanese rice cooked in an iron pot with meat and vegetables and then allowed to gently ‘burn’ for a deeper, nuttier flavor. It’s delicious and a great choice if you’re searching for some comfort food. In Nara, it is adjacent to the National Museum. I had to show the chef my gluten-free Japanese card, but they were able to accommodate me and I had a wonderful dinner.

On request, Nara Hotel also provides a gluten-free breakfast.

Kamakura is a gluten-free sushi restaurant in Kamakura, Japan

Nicole, a reader, praises about Gokuraku Curry, claiming that she was able to enjoy a Japanese curry (which typically contains wheat) at this adorable eatery.

Miyajima Gluten-Free

On Miyajima Island, there are a few eateries, and most of them are only open during the day, when the island is bustling with tourists. I packed snacks from the mainland to cook myself a supper at our ryokan, but at lunchtime, I was able to walk into one of the numerous restaurants and get simple oysters, plain rice, and plain grilled fish. I gave them my gluten-free card again, and stated that I couldn’t consume soy sauce. They seemed confused at first, but after a few trips back and forth between the kitchens, they convinced me that they would be able to prepare something for me to eat.


Overnight in Sakuraya Ryokan on Miyajima Island, and they were able to offer me with a gluten-free breakfast (hard-boiled egg, yoghurt, salad, and fruit) without issue the next morning.

Yamaichi Bettkan, Minatomachi-1162-4 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0504, Japan Phone: +81 829-44-0700 Yamaichi Bettkan, Minatomachi-1162-4 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0504, Japan Reader Anne chose to stay there and chose the half-board option, which included a gluten-free dinner for her. Sushi, sashimi, oysters, meat, desserts, and breakfast were all safe for her.

Hiroshima is gluten-free.

Hiroshima Tel: +81 50-5589-3973 Art Cafe ELK 1-7-23 Naka-hara bld (2F) Open from 9.30 a.m. to 10 p.m. This tiny café, located on the building’s second level, serves vegetarian and vegan fare. The owners and employees were able to explain how they were going to modify their menu for me as soon as I came and talked about my gluten sensitivity, so that I had a number of choices. The menus are written in English, and the cuisine is excellent. CLOSED.

Mondano Bldg 2-20, Mikawa-ch Naka Ward, Shanti Vegan Cafe Hours of operation are 11.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. A yoga studio is located in the same building. Meals that are vegan and vegetarian, as well as gluten-free and other sensitivities. CLOSED

Kyoto is gluten-free.

The Gallery at the Hotel Sakura Terrace (Restaurant on ground floor) 601-8002; 39; 601-8002; 601-8002; 601-8002; 601-8002; 601- (Just a little south of Kyoto station) +1 (756) 692-1112 We actually stayed here and didn’t dine here until one night when I was starving and couldn’t find anything to eat in Kyoto’s central district. I returned to the hotel intending to use my free drink voucher, but they surprised me by serving me fresh chips (fries) cooked in new oil and accompanied by delicious roasted vegetables. For dessert, they served a delectable green tea crème brûlée.

604-8124 581, +81 75-231-0799 Daimaru (department store) Japan A food court may be found in the basement of most department stores. There’s a whole foods shop in this Daimaru, and although it doesn’t have a lot of gluten-free options, I was able to pick up some puffed rice cereal and gluten-free biscuits. The gluten-free food is in the shop’s children’s department, since youngsters in Japan are more likely to have sensitivities, which they eventually outgrow (?) The staff was able to communicate with me in English effectively enough that I didn’t have to speak Japanese, and they were able to tell me precisely what meals I could purchase.

Kerala Restaurant (Indian cuisine), Japan, 604-8006 KUS2F +81 75-251-014 1 menu in English ……………………………….. .

Yak & Yeti (Nepali food, Gokomachi-dri, Nishikikji-sagaru Kyoto, Japan) Nepali food is an alternative to Indian cuisine in Kyoto. They will verify that there is no gluten in the sauce, and dishes will be prepared to order, allowing for the request of a clean pan. It’s also vegetarian-friendly.

7 Higashikujo Aketacho, Minami Ward +81 75-681-5656 Hotel Anteroom Kyoto (restaurant) Know what gluten-free means and how to prepare gluten-free meals

Breizh Cafe, Kyoto, 604-8036, Japan +81 75-255-5501, Breizh Cafe, Kyoto, 14-1 Ishibashicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8036, Breizh Cafe, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, Kyoto, This French café specialized in gluten-free galettes (crepes) and now has locations across Japan, including Kyoto! You can’t go wrong with Brittany galettes as a change of pace from rice and sushi. Make sure you’re getting the one that’s made entirely of buckwheat.

Teuchi Toru Soba, Japan, 〒604-0831 京都府京都市中京区二条通東洞院東入ル松屋町35-1 (On the corner of Nijo Dori and Higashinotoin Dori) +81 75-213-1512 Open 11.30am-3pm (Closed Tues & Weds). This is an absolutely tiny little Soba Noodle bar, with seats enough for 8 people. It tok us a while to find, as it’s in the backstreets between the Imperial Palace and central Kyoto, and not clearly labelled. Clearly popular with locals, we got a couple of funny looks when we entered! No english spoken, so I used my gluten-free Japanese card, and spoke – albeit very broken – Japanese with the owner, who was able to make me soba noodles, and did not add soya sauce to the ‘broth’ (made with the boiled water from the soba noodles), and was keen to try my tamari sauce himself when I produced the bottle from my bag. Noodles are made with 100% buckwheat flour.

Prunus macrobiotica, Prunus macrobiotica, Prunus macrobiotica, Prunus macrobiotica 9-4, Kurumamichi-cho, Saga Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8373, +81-75-8622265 Tuesday-Wednesday 12:00pm-4:00pm, Friday-Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm Reservations are required (call at least 1 day ahead). Saga-Arashiyama station is just across the street (by the bamboo groves). There is a gluten-free menu available. Only cash is accepted. CLOSED

Little Heaven, Ukyo, Kyoto, 8-29 Saganohirakichou, 616-8313 Tel: +81-75-7772500 Because they are not always open, you must contact at least three days ahead of time. Vegan eatery next to the Arashiyama line’s Katabiranotsuji station. For about 2000yen, you can get a lunch package that includes a main meal, salad, and soup. Pizza, spaghetti, and veggie burgers are among the main dish options, as are rice bread gluten-free burgers.

Choose Your Own Eat and Study Space Kyoto, 05-0009 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 89. There are vegan and gluten-free alternatives available. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 8 p.m., depending on the day.

Hakone is gluten-free.

Onsen and Ryokan Kijite Hoeiso (227, Yumotochaya, Hakone-Machi, Ashigarashimo-Gun, Kanagawa, 250-0312) can guarantee that your traditional meals are gluten-free, including no soy or other wheat/gluten. Strictly celiac readers have had great luck staying here.

Osaka is a gluten-free city.

1F, Nakaza Cui-daore Bldg., 1-7-21 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku. Kiyomura Sushizanmai (Sushi restaurant), 1F, Nakaza Cui-daore Bldg., 1-7-21 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku. For whatever sushi cravings you may have, the restaurant is open 24 hours a day. Their miso and rice are gluten-free, and you can supplement the dish with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. Several celiacs have experienced success at this location.

Grom (gelato), an Italian gelato business that uses no vegetable oils in their gluten-free cones. They’re sweeping Europe and have just established a branch in Osaka. If you’re looking for a change from mochi, this is the finest choice – excellent flavors and 100 percent gluten-free.

Tokyo is gluten-free.

(2-3-18) Komehiro Bakery 180-0022 Sakai, Musashino-shi, Tokyo) Hours of operation: 10:00 a.m. to 20:00 p.m., Monday closed. A gluten-free bakery located just outside of Tokyo, a few train stops north of the Studio Ghibli Museum. The Chuo Main Line station Musashi-Sakai is about a 7-minute walk north. Bread made with gluten-free rice flour, as well as gluten-free doughnuts and cakes, are available. The bakery was established by the proprietor since he suffers from gluten sensitivity. Friendly staff and an excellent selection of gluten-free baked products.

T’s Kitchen (7-8-5) is a gluten-free restaurant. Roppongi 7-8-5 2F) Roppongi 7-8-5 2F) Roppongi 7-8-5 2F Tuesdays are closed. T’s Kitchen, located in Rappongi, offers gluten-free versions of okonomiyaki, yakisoba, tempura (made with rice), and ramen soups. Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free options are clearly indicated on the menu, which also includes pictures of the dishes for easier selection. This is an excellent location to dine healthily while also learning about some of the foods that have made Japanese cuisine famous–without the wheat.

Gluten-free ramen is now available at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum! (222-0033 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Kohoku Ward, Shinyokohama, 21421; 222-0033 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Kohoku Ward, Shinyokohama, 21421; 222-0033 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Kohoku Ward, Shinyoko Food must be ordered by 9:30 p.m.

Many a celiac visiting Japan loves Little Bird Café (3F, 1-1-20 Uehara, Shibuya, Tokyo 1510064). There’s pizza and hamburgers on the menu, but there’s also ramen, spaghetti, dumplings, and Japanese favorites like tempura. It’s completely gluten-free. GET OUT THERE AND EAT!

3 Chome-5-4 Jingmae, Shibuya-ku, Tky-to 150-0001) +81-3-3478-7855 Breizh Cafe also has a Tokyo location (3 Chome-5-4 Jingmae, Shibuya-ku, Tky-to 150-0001) (see Kyoto above). Please double-check that the crepe you purchase is gluten-free and made with buckwheat.

Another GF Tokyo bakery is Otaco Sweets (Bakery), which is situated right above the Senso-ji temple. Tel/Fax: +81-3-6458-1375 (+81-3-6458-1375) Sells a delectably light and delicious rice flour chiffon cake.

1F Enomoto-building, 1-16-24 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0017 Tel: +81-3-6413-6363 Setagaya Gluten Free Cafe1F Enomoto-building, 1-16-24 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0017 Breadbowls prepared with gluten-free bread, udon noodles, desserts, and more are available. Setagaya’s claim to fame is that its chef prepared for the New Zealand rugby team (the All Blacks) during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The cafe’s whole menu is free of wheat, oats, rye, or barley.

At non-dedicated (but not 100% celiac-safe) Tokyo ramen restaurants, gluten-free ramen choices include:

  1. Nippon Soranoiro (Tokyo Ramen Street, Tokyo Station First Avenue, 1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0005). Vegan veggie soba, as suggested by Michelin, is one of the finest choices for your taste buds and stomach.
  2. Afuri Afuri Afuri Afuri A (1F 117 Bld., 1-1-7 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, with other locations here.) Choose your food from the vending machine and marvel at the gluten-free options. Culinary Backstreets has further information about Afuri.

Gluten-free pizza at Pizzakaya (106-0031 Tokyo, Minato City, Nishiazabu, 3 Chome119 2F). Their medium pizzas include a gluten-free crust option, and they are celiac-aware and will cook them on a different surface from the rest of their pies.

Another pizza choice in Toyko is Pizza Firenze Omotesando. Japan Aoyama (5-52-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001) Located on the 1st floor of the Oval Building, 4 minutes walk from Omotesando Road Exit B2). Mondays are closed. This location serves excellent Neapolitan-style pizza, now with gluten-free dough, as well as a unique bread (shokupan bread), but just a few loaves each day (usually 6 loaves). Their gluten-free dough contains components such as quinoa and sesame, giving it a unique flavor. Gluten-free spaghetti and snacks are also available on the menu; the restaurant was virtually rebuilt during COVID to become gluten-free! Corn pasta is plentiful. If you want one of those shokupan loaves personalized, call ahead: +81 (0)3 5962 7033.

1 Chome-33-4 Asakusa, Tait-ku, Tky-to 111-0032, Japan Telephone +81-3-3847-3461 Khroop Khrua – Thai Gluten-free choices and educated personnel are available at this Thai restaurant.

3 Chome-4-46 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan) Gluten Free 61 Cafe and Bar Celiacs will find enough to eat, including okonomiyaki, ramen, gyoza, agedashi tofu, and more. Organic wines are available to pair with your meal. (2-38-11) Karehadare Toyko | 153-0051 2-38-11) Kamimeguro, Meguro, Toyko Choose Karehadare to break up the monotony of Japanese cuisine. Thai, Indian, and other curries vary depending on the day, but they’re all prepared with organic veggies and are gluten-free, and they’re all served with a side of basmati rice. 1-15-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo Tel: 03-3408-2828 (+81 -3-3408-2828) Japan Crepe, 1-15-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo In Harajyuku, Tokyo, there is a crepe shop. Gluten-free rice flour is used to make all crepes. CLOSED

Kitchen Rejuvenation Three Aoyama is located less than 5 minutes from the Omotesando Station B2 exit. +81 3-6419-7513 Tel: +81 3-6419-7511 31213+81 3-6419-7513 The restaurant is connected to a cosmetics store that resembles a spa. Gluten-free pancakes and french toast, muffins and scones, as well as gluten-free bread and pasta dinners are also available. We came back twice since the meal was so good.

Journey of Ain Soph (scroll down for their locations). Ain Soph Journey’s menu excludes meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, and many dishes are labeled GF as well as being plant-based, such as rice-based pastas. They have four stores in Tokyo, as well as sites across Japan — and an online shop that sells gorgeous pastries.

Before you go to Japan, read these books on the country.

101 Coolest Things to Do in Japan is a short, entertaining handbook (includes Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and budget travel tips).

The novels listed below are ones that I’ve read and found to be excellent in bringing Japanese culture to life in various ways. They were enjoyable to read since they were often imaginative and bizarre.

This ends my gluten-free Japan travel guide! I appreciate comments and hope that it will assist those of you who wish to visit a really interesting location but are afraid to do so due to stomach issues.

As a celiac, there are numerous moments when I feel panicked – when I’m exhausted and hungry, uncertain of what’s safe to eat. But I hope this article is helpful, and I will continue to create them for the locations I visit on the web.

Here are the remainder of my celiac instructions on this site.



Japan is a nation of foodies. It is one of the few places in the world where the food quality is considered among the best in the world. In Japan, the top five global food brands are all headquartered in the city of Tokyo. If you are looking to visit Japan, you will need to know all the food related things. You should also prepare yourself for the local cuisine. You should expect some significant challenges when visiting Japan if you are gluten intolerant. Some of the foods that are in the list of top foods in Japan are Miso Soup, Agedashi Ebi, Sushi, Green Tea, Pickled Plums, Curry Rice, Tempura, and Dango.. Read more about gluten-free diet and let us know what you think.

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