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Living in Japan as a Vegetarian, is it possible?

Being a vegetarian in Japan can be challenging. Being a vegan is even more difficult, especially if you don’t speak the language. Luckily, in Morioka, we have our very own macrobiotic restaurant; Usagi Botanica. I’ve been here a number of times, especially for the lunch menu, which features an entirely vegetarian (and entirely delicious) menu.

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Hotline Sakanacho in Morioka, Iwate

Usagi Botanica, A peaceful and healthy macrobiotic restaurant in Morioka

Usagi Botanica is located on a lovely little side street directly across from a popular shopping district called Sakanacho. While Sakanacho bustles with shoppers, if you cross Odori you’ll find a quiet street lined with various restaurants, tea shops, and local grocers, their colorful wares displayed outside their shops.

street where vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka serves macrobiotic food

After passing the bulk of the restaurants and a small temple on the left, you can see the red signage for Usagi Botanica, a white rabbit on a red background. Usagi means rabbit in Japanese. The restaurant might be small, but the atmosphere is peaceful, and altogether in tune with the macrobiotic way of thinking about food.

Usagi Botanica, vegetarian/vegan restaurant serving macrobiotic food

Not sure what a macrobiotic diet is? Don’t worry, I wasn’t either, but I did some research. Macrobiotics is a diet, which attempts to balance the various elements of food. It focuses on using local and seasonal food, and balancing them according to the ancient Chinese idea of yin and yang. For example, foods with yang qualities are considered dense, heavy, or hot, whereas foods with yin qualities are considered, light, and cold. These terms are relative however, and often restaurants focusing on macrobiotics focus more on different aspects of the diet, such as the seasonal availability of foods, and the health benefits associated. Sagen Ishizuka, a Japanese military doctor, popularized macrobiotics in Japan following the publication of two volumes about the benefits of the diet, in the late 19th century. It has been claimed to help cancer patients, and increase the longevity of life, although none of this has been scientifically proven.

Inside Usagi Botanica, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka serving macrobiotic food

Regardless, the food’s delicious, fresh, and healthy, and an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians looking for a relaxing atmosphere and a place to find vegetarian meal options.

Inside Usagi Botanica, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka that serves macrobiotic food


This particular restaurant, Usagi Botanica, does serve meat on the dinner menu, so if you are worried about meat or dairy products that may be used during cooking, make sure to tell your server, “nyuseihin o tsukawanai de kudasai.” This is one way to say, “please do not make this with dairy.” Or if you’re worried about meat, “niku o iranai de kudasai,” (please do not put meat in this.)

Usagi Botanica macrobiotic menu, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka serving macrobiotic food

The dinner menu.

set meal in a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka

You could also go during lunchtime, when you can be sure that everything on the menu will be vegetarian. The menu is in Japanese, but each item has a photo next to it of what will be served. Each item on the lunch menu costs 1080 yen, which includes a ginger soup, two seasonal side dishes, the main dish, and your choice of tea or coffee after the meal. Depending on what you choose, you may get brown rice as well.

menu of Usagi Botanica, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant serving macrobiotic food in Morioka

Forgive the glare on the photo, but in order from A set to D set, the lunch menu is as follows:

A: This month’s Macrobiotic Set

B: Gluten Turnip Bagel Sandwich

C: Tofu and Vegetable Curry for Beauty

D: Rice and Sesame Noodles

Bagel sandwich/veggie burger available in a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka

My personal favorite is the Bagel Sandwich, which is amazing, and the closest thing to a veggie burger I have been able to find in Japan to date. If I’m feeling especially hungry I will also opt for a side dish of tofu nuggets. Located exactly opposite of option A on the menu. They may look a bit strange, but they taste incredible.

tofu nuggets served in a vegetarian/vegan restaurant

coffee and brown sugar


Usagi Botanica is a 25 minute walk from Morioka Station. Alternatively you can catch any of the buses that go to Morioka Bus Center, or to Sakanacho, from Morioka Station.

rabbit figuring in Usagi Botanica, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Morioka serving macrobiotic food
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Ryann Overbay

Ryann Overbay

Ryann is from Seattle, Washington. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Western Washington University, and spent the subsequent years as an outdoor sports guide in Colorado, leading rock climbing, hiking, and zip lining tours. She enjoyed a brief stint as a photographer at Crested Butte Ski resort, before moving to Korea to work as an English teacher. She now works as an English teacher in Iwate, Japan, and spends as much time outdoors as she can.

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