Almost all bread in Japan contains egg and/or dairy products. This makes it pretty much impossible to find vegan bread in supermarkets and convenience stores. The same goes for cookies, cakes, muffins and other bakery products.
However there are wonderful vegan pancake mixes (by Matsuda’s Vegan Mix) you can buy online, including pumpkin and coconut flavours. All you need to do is add water (plus oil if you wish). All ingredients are from Japan, except for the coconut powder which is from Philippines. The mix is hand-packed at a small welfare facility in Gifu prefecture. Click here to check out their website (in English) and here is a blog with more about the mixes (in Japanese).
To find other vegan bread/bakery products you could try the following.
Bread shops seem to be everywhere in Japan and most display allergen information for their products. This makes it easy to identify bread that does not contain egg or dairy products, however the bread may still contain shortening, lard or other animal products. To be sure, it is a good idea to ask the staff.
Some bakeries sell special allergen-free products like bread and cakes, and these are often vegan. For example, Takaki Bakery in Hokkaido sells bread and cakes that do not contain egg and milk. Chez Watanabe in Shizuoka Prefecture also sells non-allergen cookies and cakes. Below are some examples of non-allergen cookies from Chez Watanabe. However, allergen-free cakes may not necessarily be vegan- for example, the allergen-free cake from Chateraise contains gelatine.
It is still a good idea to check the ingredients with staff, as many non-allergen products contain margarine (which may contain gelatine etc) and/or honey.
This bakery chain labels the products that are free of milk, egg, etc.
This bakery chain has one option at some branches that’s certified vegan by the organization Vege Project Japan:
VIE DE FRANCE
As of 2018, the paper bag the batard was put into read, in English, “We want to tell you what our product contains: flour, water, yeast and salt. We also want to tell you what it does not contain: no fats, no chemical preservatives, no sugar, no milk products, no coloring agents.”
FOREIGN FOOD STORES
You may be able to find imported vegan bread in foreign food stores, like this Delba 5 Grain Bread (nice that the ingredients are in English too).
SMALL PRE-MADE FOOD STORES
This vegan sweet potato bread was in a small store in a shopping area near a train station. The shop also sold things like bento boxes, salads and rice balls.
• Sweet potato bread. Ingredients: Wheat flour, sweet potato, sugar, salt, baking soda, alum.
ORGANIC/NATURAL FOOD STORES
You might be lucky enough to have an organic/natural food store near you. Check whether it sells vegan bread like this (you can also check online).
• Marumo Loaf Bread. Ingredients: Wheat flour, processed brown rice, beet sugar, grape seed oil, processed wheat bran, processed rice bran, soy milk, bread yeast, okara (soy pulp), dietary fiber, wheat protein, salt, mannan (a plant polysaccharide), malted rice, acerola (Barbados cherry) powder. Note: manufactured in a facility that also makes products containing egg and milk.
• Jacob’s Pita – Grov Pita Bread. Ingredients: Wheat flour, whole wheat flour, salt, yeast, vinegar, sugar, vitamin C. Note: manufactured in a facility that also makes products containing egg and milk.
Many of the online stores sell vegan bread, cookies, cakes etc. Check out the online stores section of this website.
MAKE YOUR OWN
If you are staying in Japan for a while you might consider investing in a bread maker.
The following breads and cake are available in some AEON supermarkets.
• French Bread Loaf/フランス食パン. Ingredients: Wheat flour, mixed flour (wheat flour, wheat processed product (dried fermented wheat flour), yeast extract powder, malt extract powder, salt) yeast, salt, malt extract, antioxidant (vitamin c). Product contains wheat.
• Steamed and Baked Pasco Campagne Bread/PASCO 蒸し焼きパスコ カンパーニュ. Ingredients: Wheat flour, liqueured raisins, walnuts, whole wheat flour, ferment, sugars, table salt, bread yeast, olive oil, brewed vinegar, malt extract, rice flour/processed starch. (Contains wheat and walnuts.)
Uses domestically produced wheat.
There is also one flavor of cake available at some Aeon stores, the Fromage Cake without Egg, Milk or Wheat/乳・卵・小麦粉しようしていないフロマージュ, that according to the company who makes it, does not contain insect or animal ingredients (フロマージュにつきましては動物および昆虫由来原料は使用材料の規格書上で使用がないことを確認いたしました). Although the person who inquired specifically asked if it was vegan, they did not use that word in their response.
The company is called Fruits Life and it makes some vegan products, like a gluten-free vegan pizza, that are available online.
• Fromage Cake without Egg, Milk or Wheat/乳・卵・小麦粉しようしていないフロマージュ. Ingredients: Soy whipped cream (vegetable oil, soymilk, other) soymilk processed product (soymilk, vegetable oil, other), sugar, soymilk, tapioca flour, rice flour, edible vegetable oil, edible processed vegetable oil, pineapple sauce, salt, coconut milk/ leavening agent, thickener (polysaccharide thickener, processed starch), emulsifier, sorbitol, acidulant, flavouring, pH stabilizer, stabilizing agent (processed starch, soybean polysaccharide, pectin), spirits, trehalose, coloring agents (carotenoid, annato).
The other two flavors of this cake that have been spotted in stores, Shortcake without egg, milk or wheat/乳・卵・小麦粉しようしていないショットケーキ and Strawberry Montblanc without egg, milk or wheat/乳・卵・小麦粉しようしていない苺モンブラン are not vegan as they both contain lac/ラック, which is made from insects.
BIO C’ BON
• Crunchy Light Baguette/サクサクかるい食感バゲット. Ingredients: Wheat, sourdough starter (wheat flour, water), yeast, salt, barley malt flour. (Product contains wheat.)
Vegana No Japao reports that sourdough starter/サワー種 can come from animal-derived lactobacillus in Japan. We don’t have any information on how the sourdough starter in this product is made.
• Sala’s Organic Soft French Sliced Bread/オーガニックソフトフランス（スライス). Ingredients: Organic wheat flour, organic sugar, yeast, salt.
• Sala’s Organic Whole Grain Ring Bread/オーガニック全粒リングパン. Ingredients: Organic wheat flour, organic whole wheat flour, organic sugar, yeast, salt.
• Sala’s Organic Pain Complete/オーガニック コンプレ. Ingredients: Ingredients: Organic wheat flour, organic whole wheat flour, organic sugar, yeast, salt.
There are some organic anpan available.
• Vegan Organic Bread filled with Sweetened Beans (Anpan)/オーガニック ブレッド こしあんぱん.
• Vegan Organic Bread filled with Sweetened Beans and Kabocha Squash (Anpan)/オーガニック ブレッド かぼちゃあんぱん.
Costco in Japan has been reported to have a few bread choices without animal ingredients. It’s necessary to have a membership to shop there.
• Kirkland Signature Organic Loaf/Pain Biologique
Has 21 whole grains and seeds.
• Variety Bagels/バラエティーベーグル
Except for cheese and honey wheat.
• Busco Plain Bagels/バスコ べーゲル. Ingredients: Wheat flour, sugar, salt, wheat gluten, yeast, polysaccharide thickener, enzyme, vitamin C.
Marked “made in the New York” and “no milk, no butter, no egg” on the website.
• Maheso Churros/チュロス. Ingredients: Churros: Wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt/baking powder, polysaccharide thickener (xanthan gum), emulsifier. Cinnamon sugar: Sugar, cinnamon.
Made in Spain.
May have cross-contamination from products containing ingredients including milk, egg, and seafood including fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
The Maheso website states that this product uses emulsifier E742e. The ingredient checker website veganeasy.org states that E742e are “mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters” and that “because the E472 family is derived from Glycerine (Glycerol) (see E422 above), they may contain animal fats.”
Veganeasy.org also states that “chicken lysozyme and whey may be used in the manufacturing process” when making xanthan gum.
However, this product is available on the Green’s Vegetarian Rakuten shop.