Convenience Stores

There is quite a lot of vegan food available in Japanese convenience stores. In fact, probably more than in Western style convenience stores. The best place to head is the refrigerated section containing the rice balls and fresh food. You probably shouldn’t waste your time staring at the bento, fried food, oden, bread/pastry and chocolate sections.

Below are some of the vegan foods we have found which you can use as a general guide. The products available at a particular store will vary according to location and season. If we are aware that a product at a certain store is not vegan, we have noted this. BUT we have not checked the labels of each product at each store (7-11, Lawson, Family Mart etc.), so unfortunately you will still need to check them.

Each major chain of convenience stores also has a website where you can find information in Japanese about its products, including allergen information about the unpackaged food it sells (e.g. fried food). Most of the pictures below are from the convenience store websites.

Rice Balls (Onigiri)

Plain rice ball

7-11 has a plain rice ball that only contains rice, salt, vinegar and oil.

Plain Rice Onigiri

 

 

 

Seaweed (Wakame) rice ball

7-11 also sells a wakame rice ball which looks like the plain rice ball except there are small pieces of seaweed mixed into the rice. The label says わかめ. This rice ball contains ‘dashi’, which is likely to be fish dashi.

Seaweed (Kombu) rice ball

Look for 昆布 or こんぶ.

Note the rice ball sold at Family Mart stores (below) contains fish according to their website.

Seaweed Onigiri (contains Bonito) Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Plum (Umeboshi) rice ball

Look for うめ or 梅 (梅干 or 梅ぼし)

Plum Onigiri Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Red bean (Adzuki) rice ball

Red rice rice ball Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Sushi

Inari Zushi

Inari zushi (rice in a tofu pocket) is often available in convenience stores.

Inari Zushi 711

 

 

 

 

Fermented soy bean (Natto) roll

Note the natto roll at 7-11 (below) contains fish according to their website. The natto roll at Family Mart also contains fish (katsuo).

Natto roll (contains bonito) 711

 

 

 

 

Noodles

You can buy ready to eat soba (buckwheat noodles – on the left hand side below) and udon (wheat noodles – on the right hand side below) in Japanese convenience stores. These noodles are usually vegan, just check for egg white (卵白).

The dipping sauce that comes with the noodles will almost certainly not be vegan. You can replace the sauce with soy sauce. Soy sauce may be available at the convenience store counter, but it can be useful to carry your own with you. You can buy very small bottles of soy sauce at supermarkets.

Soba - buckwheat noodles Family MartUdon 711

 

 

 

 

Salads

Vegan salads are available at most convenience stores, however you should check the salad carefully before you buy it because there are often small pieces of meat or egg included in the salad. You also need to be careful with the dressing. Vegan dressing is difficult to find in Japan, not only in convenience store salads/sachets, but also in supermarkets and restaurants. It can be a good idea to carry your own salad dressing with you. Choose something that does not need refrigeration, such as balsamic vinegar.

Salad Family Mart Another Salad Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Many convenience stores also sell bags of salad and whole tomatoes, if you would like to make the salad yourself.

Some stores also have a cup with things like carrot, cucumber and dip. Note the dip at Family Mart stores (see picture below) contains mayonnaise and cod roe.

Vegie Cup Family Martjpg

 

 

 

 

Fried potato

This one is a ‘maybe’. According to the 7-11 and Family Mart allergen charts it is ok, but as always the oil and seasoning used may be an issue.

Fried Potato Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Edamame

Available in most convenience stores, but the best bets are 7-11 and Family Mart. 7-11 also sells steamed broad beans which are vegan (just beans and salt).

Edamame 711 Steamed broad beans 711

 

 

 

 

Packaged beans

You can buy packaged beans at many convenience stores. Below are some examples from Family Mart.

Note the red kidney beans (kintokimame or 金時) and black beans (Kuromame or 黒豆) sold at 7-11 appear to be vegan. The yasaimame (vegetables and beans) sold at 7-11 contains fish extract, so are not vegan.

Red Kidney Beans Family Mart Seaweed or kelp beans Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Food to make a meal!

If you are able to cook for yourself while you are in Japan it is handy to know that you can buy the ingredients to make a basic vegan meal – vegetables, tofu and cooked rice – at a convenience store! There are often bags of cut vegetables as well as whole vegetables like potatoes, carrots and eggplants. You can also find packaged cooked vegetables like sweet potato and pumpkin. Note the packaged pumpkin at 7-11 contains dashi and egg, so is not vegan.

Vegetables and bean sprouts Family Mart Silken Tofu Family Mart Rice Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Fruit

Many convenience stores sell a good range of fruit, including bananas, frozen blueberries, frozen mango, kiwifruit and pineapple. Some is cut and packaged, while some is whole.

711 BananaFrozen BlueberriesFrozen mango

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Nuts

Most convenience stores have a good selection of nuts, for example peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and chestnuts. Check the package to make sure you are just buying nuts, as sometimes nuts are sold mixed with small dried fish and other non-vegan ingredients. 7-11 also has whole boiled peanuts in shells in its refrigerated section.

Cashews Family Mart Mixed nuts Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Steamed bun filled with sweet bean paste (あんまん – Anman)

Near the convenience store counter you can find a warming oven containing anman and nikuman (steamed buns filled with meat).

Anman are in the ‘maybe’ category. According to the Family Mart and 7-11 allergy charts they do not contain egg or milk BUT it is possible that lard or shortening is used. The anman at Lawson contains milk.

Grain Anman Family Mart

 

 

 

 

Red bean (Azuki) ice cream

Red bean ‘ice cream’ is vegan. The ingredients of the one below are: sugar, adzuki beans, starch syrup, cornstarch (non-genetically modified corn) and salt.

IMG_3570 IMG_3572

 

 

 

 
 

 

Fruit jelly

Most jelly in Japan is made with agar (seaweed) rather than gelatine, although you should still check the list of ingredients. Look for:

gelatine ゼラチン zerachin
agar agar 天草 / 寒天 てんぐさ / かんてん tengusa / kanten
gelling/setting agent ゲル化剤 gerukazai (used for both animal and plant sources)

IMG_3586

 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Japanese style sweets

You can usually find traditional style Japanese sweets in convenience stores. For example, daifuku, anmitsu (on left side below – check for honey) and zenzai (on right side below):

Anmitsu (maybe honey) 711 Zenzai 711

9 thoughts on “Convenience Stores

  1. buzzinjapan

    Thank you for this comprehensive list! A lot of stuff I wouldn’t haven even thought to check.

    I have not been able to find any packaged onigiri or sushi in supermarkets, convenience stores, or department stores that doesn’t list amino/アミノas an ingredient, though, which may or may not be vegan. I’ve found packaged daifuku to often suffer from the same problem, though I finally found some ichigo daifuku in Daimaru that was 100% vegan without a doubt.

    Reply
  2. Leïla

    This list is very useful, thanks !
    It may be useful to add the japanese writing of anman あんまん (according to wikipedia) to have a 2nd verification at the combini.

    Reply
  3. Korellia

    The new Soy Joy Crispy bars would be worth adding. The original ones contain egg, but the crispy kind is vegan!

    Reply
  4. Chan Huat Low

    Thank you so much for the list and updated information. It really helps for vegetarians. May you be well and happy always!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s