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Top Tips for a Healthy Trip to Japan

Best known for being the home of anime, bullet trains, sumo wrestlers and the world's most bizarre novelty experiences, Japan is also a great destination for any travellers seeking out fresh food and active adventures. From cultural practices that will boost your wellness to where to get the best soy matcha latte in Kyoto, here's our top tips for travelling healthy in Japan: 

 

Japan Healthy Travel Guide | Neat Nutrition. Clean, Simple, No-Nonsense.

Pack Those Comfy Shoes and Get Walking!

When the only thing on your agenda is to get out and explore, it’s easy to clock up 20,000+ steps on a day of sightseeing, especially in the bigger cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. Instead of squeezing into stuffy subway lines during commuting hours, grab a map and head out into the fresh air instead – the hidden gems of any destination are always stumbled upon accidentally.

 

Check Out Japan’s Popular Running Routes

The safe streets of Japan are a great place to lace up your running shoes and get out to explore. In Kyoto, get up with the birds and head to Fushimi Inari to run the (never-ending) steps before the tourists’ flood in, or take the flatter route down by the river. In Tokyo, join the locals at any one of the city’s parks. Heading out of town and into the country? Never fear! You’ll find plenty of trials and tracks to explore.

 Soy Matcha Latte Kyoto | Neat Nutrition. Clean, Simple, No-Nonsense.

Fill Up on Matcha

Japan is the homeland of our beloved matcha Green Tea – so it’d be rude not to drink your daily dose of antioxidants! Head to a traditional tea house for the real deal, often served with rice-based sweets, or indulge Many lattes are sweetened but a traditional Japanese style tea is served in its au naturale glory.

Looking for the best soy matcha latte in town? Here’s where to head:

  • Vermillion Coffee, Kyoto, found at multiple locations
  • Unlimited Coffee Bar, Tokyo, located next to the Sky Tower
  • Hillbilly Coffee Company, Magome, found just at the bottom of the hill – the perfect reward after a hike through the mountains!

 Veg Out, Kyoto | Neat Nutrition. Clean, Simple, No-Nonsense.

Vegetarian? Go Prepared.

Despite being light-years ahead when it comes to technology and transport, Japan is yet to catch on to current vegetarian and vegan eating trends. Stumbling into restaurants and finding a slap-up veggie meal (or even just a side dish) isn’t really an option here, so make sure you’ve done some research on Happy Cow, Lonely Planet or the wealth of travel blogs online to source out local restaurants that will cater to your needs. We’d also recommend screenshotting the translation of ‘Veggie/Vegan’ to show staff avoid a serious case of miscommunication – we’ve been there, and it wasn’t fun!

Our Favourite Eats:

  • IPPUDO, Kyoto – the queue might be out the door at peak hours, but the veggie ramen is worth the wait.
  • Veg Out, Kyoto – this organic vegan café looks out ver the river and serves awesome buddha bowls and sandwiches which as a great mix of Western & Japenese tastes. They also have some tasty cakes and muffins too, which we stocked up on to fuel us through a trip to the countryside.
  • Biotei, Kyoto – this is one of the best traditional meals we ate in Japan and the authentic, home-run atmosphere and caring staff made it a wonderful experience too. Although they do have meat options, they cater well to vegans with their incredible set menu.
  • Brown Rice by Neal’s Yard Remedies, Tokyo – the wholefoods, plant-focused philosophy at this Neal’s Yard owned café will please any healthy food lovers, and you can fill up on veggies, beans, and of course, brown rice! Grab a bento box and head out to the terrace to enjoy the sunshine.
  • Nataraj, Tokyo – although a surprising choice when in Japan, we embraced the city’s multi-culturalism and headed to this highly recommended Indian restaurant, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The best Indian we’d eaten since visiting India years ago, the whole menu is Veggie/Vegan and tastes incredible! We recommend splashing out on a Thali to try out a range of curries, and make sure to order the spinach vegan naan to go with it!

  

Practice Gratitude

We’re always told how mindfulness and practising gratitude can improve our mental health, and Japan is a great place to experience this fully. Gift-giving is a central cultural practice, gratitude is expressed at every meal and in general, the people you meet will be humble, kind and caring. Embrace their way of life to feel that negative cloud lift from your shoulders.

 

Countryside Japan | Neat Nutrition. Clean, Simple, No-Nonsense.

Head to The Mountains

As great as Japan’s big cities are, the mountains are the place for a real healthy holiday. Whether that’s hiking in summer, watching out for wild bears, or grabbing your skis and enjoying their world-renowned slopes in winter, it’s the perfect place to get active.

 

Eat like the Locals

With daily diets full of seaweed, matcha, bone broths, diverse mushrooms, locally grown veggies and plenty of rice, it’s no wonder that the Japanese are known for living so long!

 

 

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Healthy Travel Guide | Neat Nutrition. Clean, Simple, No-Nonsense. 

Visit Hakone

Near the base of iconic Mount Fuji, Hakone is the place to go for Onsen (hot spring) bathing, Fuji water straight out the tap, relaxing, walking, or even a little lakeside yoga amongst the cherry blossoms... there’s whatever you need to truly relax and unwind!

 

Take Things Slow

This is the land where J-walking is seen as culturally disrespectful, so take it as a sign to stop rushing from place to place. Although their train system is incredibly fast (seriously Southern Rail, take note...), the general pace of life in Japan is much slower, even in big cities like Tokyo.