Books / Reviews | RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS ABOUT JAPAN

'Plant-based Tokyo': A compelling guide to vegetarian food in the capital

by Alisha Ivelich

Contributing Writer

A new resource for visitors and residents, “Plant-based Tokyo” by Momoko Nakamura is a beautifully presented, bilingual book of 45 dining establishments in the Tokyo and Shonan areas. Each location is committed to what Nakamura describes as “sustainable food system practices” and high-quality food.

Plant-based Tokyo, by Momoko Nakamura.
288 pages
MILESTAFF, Food.

The book is prefaced with a short guide that includes a list of Japanese vocabulary so that readers can explain “I am vegan,” or “I am vegetarian,” et cetera. Each of the restaurant descriptions is then focused on the chef or restaurant owner’s philosophy and relationship to food. Nakamura writes with a calm, charming voice, and describes each location with respect and care. While portions of the text could have benefited with heavier editing, each story is compelling.

Photos by Waki Hamatsu capture the atmosphere of each location and owner/operator, and the design of the book, by Ryota Iwamatsu, is clear and easy to understand. Each entry concludes with a budget estimate and restaurant details. An index of greengrocers and farmers markets is included in the back, along with a password to access a smartphone-friendly map of all the locations featured.

“‘Organic’ and ‘vegan,’ (among) other terms, have become trendy globally, and certainly in Japan as well,” writes Nakamura by email. “But just because … plates are filled with colorful, photogenic fruits and vegetables, (it) doesn’t mean the food is kind to the body or earth. There needs to be greater education for consumers to make smarter decisions.” Here, Nakamura solves that need.