Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagoya host (bi)annual vegan festivals with food trucks/stalls by the top vegan businesses of the region; veganism lacks the strength to gather the big players from all over Japan. In spring and autumn, these festivals benefit from comfortable temperatures and relatively low humidity.
Vegans, vegetarians, veg-curious, and flexitarians can taste safe good-quality food & drinks, occasionally meet producers of rice/vegetables (rarely fruit), get information about vegan cooking classes, learn about health and the environment, buy clothes and soap... Events may also merge; I enjoyed a Yogafest and Vegan Gourmet Festival in Yokohama that featured exciting food (e.g. vegan sushi, burgers, "matcha" green tea crepes), a large yoga space and a corner for people practising yoga with their dogs!
- Every spring & autumn: Nagoya Vegan Gourmet Festival, Okinawa Vegan Food Fest, Tokyo Vegan Gourmet Festival, Vege & Fork Market.
- Spring only: Green Food Festa.
- Autumn only: Kyoto Vegan Gourmet Festival.
Green Food Festa
Annual vegan festival with free admission, ±30 food stalls, and spots for NPOs related to plant-based lifestyles, animal rights and human rights. The products are all plant-based (e.g. no wool or leather for the clothes) and you can enjoy live musical performances during this "Plant x Planet x People" event!
You can expect gluten-free burgers, sweets and cuisine from Japan (e.g. yaki-soba fried noodles), Egypt, Germany (e.g. veggie kebab), India, Taiwan... Consider visiting the nearby Tokyo National Museum, which is my favorite museum in Japan!
Event: Green Food Festa (グリーンフードフェスタ) Spring: Expected in April/May 2020. Address: Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007 (〒110-0007 東京都台東区上野公園) Subway/train: Ueno station Website: https://www.greenfoodfesta.com
Kyoto Vegan Gourmet Festival
Annual vegan festival with free admission for ±4,000 visitors welcomed by ±60 vendors. The food is plant-based (natural, organic, macrobiotic, raw...) and the stalls list their ingredients in Japanese.
May I get the chance to be in Kyoto city during this festival organized near Kyoto station...
Event: Kyoto Vegan Gourmet Festival (京都ビーガングルメ祭り) Autumn: 10:00-16:00 on Sunday 03 November 2019. Address: Umekoji Park, 56-3 Kankiji-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto 600-8835 (〒600-8835 京都府京都市下京区観喜寺町56−3梅小路公園) Train: Umekoji-kyotonishi station Website: https://vegefes.com/2019/07/29/kyoto-2019-about-venue/
Nagoya Vegan Gourmet Festival
Biannual vegan festival with free admission for ±5,000 visitors welcomed by ±60 vendors. The food is plant-based (natural, organic, macrobiotic, raw...) and the stalls list their ingredients in Japanese.
May I get the chance to be in Nagoya city during this festival, and visit the nearby Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art the same day!
Event: Nagoya Vegan Gourmet Festival (名古屋ビーガングルメ祭り) Spring: Expected in April 2020. Autumn: 10:00-16:00 on Sunday 20 October 2019. Address: Tsuruma Park, 1-1 Tsurumai, Showa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 466-0064 (〒466-0064 愛知県名古屋市昭和区鶴舞1ー1鶴舞公園) Train: Tsurumai station Website: https://vegefes.com/2019/02/12/nagoya-2019-about-venue/
Okinawa Vegan Food Fest
Biannual vegan festival with music, food and cooking demonstrations! In case of rain, the festival will take place inside Okinawa city civic center. On the main island of Okinawa archipelago, this festival is on the way to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium from Naha Airport.
Event: Okinawa Vegan Food Fest (沖縄ヴィーガンフードフェス) Spring: Expected in April 2020. Autumn: 11:00-17:00 on Sunday 24 November 2019. Address: Yaeshima Park, 1-1 Yaejima, Okinawa, Okinawa 904-0006 (〒904-0006 沖縄県沖縄市八重島1ー1八重島公園) Access: Rent & drive a car (ideally electric). Website with photos: http://okvff.com
Tokyo Vegan Gourmet Festival
Biannual vegan festival with free admission for ±7,000 visitors welcomed by ±70 vendors. The food is plant-based (natural, organic, macrobiotic, raw...) and the stalls list their ingredients in Japanese.
I discovered Tokyo Vegan Gourmet Festival on a sunny day after a pleasant walk in Kiba Park, enjoying the fountain and seasonal vegetation then crossing a bridge (wheelchair OK). The festival was big and lively, the ice creams excellent, the hemp snacks interesting though expensive... and there were amazing queues to taste vegan ramen noodles or buy vegan cheese. I had the pleasure to meet American and Taiwanese vegan friends on site! If you go as a tourist, consider visiting the nearby Kiyosumi Teien traditional gardens.
Event: Tokyo Vegan Gourmet Festival (東京ビーガングルメ祭り) Spring: Expected in April 2020. Autumn: 10:00-16:00 on Sunday 29 September 2019. Address: Kiba Park, 4 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0023 (〒135-0023 東京都江東区木場4木場公園) Subway: Kiba station Website: https://vegefes.com/2019/07/29/tokyo-2019about-venue/
Vege & Fork Market
Biannual vegan market (not officially a "festival") with free admission and ±120 shops. The food is plant-based (vegetables, bread, organic, macrobiotic...), handmade products are sold, workshops and music performances are organized, and children can play in a dedicated area. This market is typically maintained in case of rain.
Event: Vege & Fork Market (ベジ＆フォークマーケット) Spring: Expected in May 2020. Autumn: Cancelled for 2019. Expected in November 2020. Address: Asao Water Treatment Center, 6-15-1 Kami-asao, Asao-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 215-0021 (〒215-0021 神奈川県川崎市麻生区上麻生6-15-1麻生水処理センター) Train: Kakio station Website: http://vegeforkmarket.com
Weather OK! These festivals are organized outside the rainy season and should not be cancelled due to typhoons, heatwaves, snowstorms, etc. World travellers coming to enjoy "sakura" cherry blossoms and "koyo" red & orange autumn leaves should have a chance to do it at the venues, in the cities, in nearby mountains (freshness in altitude delays flowering but accelerates the colouring of leaves)...
English OK! The language barrier seems to vanish at these vegan festivals. Maybe because some shopkeepers are foreigners. Maybe because so many dishes have English-sounding names: "i-su kurimu" (ice cream), "baagaa" (burger)...
Beyond? You can savour more sophisticated vegan meals in a few restaurants of Tokyo, Kyoto... and shojin-ryori Buddhist cuisine at temples, lodgings for pilgrims, etc. Sadly, I have never seen shojin-ryori at Japanese vegan festivals.
You know other cool vegan festivals in Japan? Let me know!