Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to Himeji’s Vegan-Friendly Restaurants

If you can only visit one castle in Japan, Himeji Castle is undoubtedly the one to visit. The castle that escaped the fate of being bombed isn’t just the most elegant castle in Japan but is also one of the top cherry blossoms and fall foliage destinations in the Kansai region. If you feel hungry after exploring the castle and its gorgeous garden Kōkōen, don’t rush back to Osaka or Kyoto for vegan-friendly restaurants because Himeji has a couple, and one of them is Saido’s sister café!

Himeji’s Vegan-Friendly Restaurants

Sakurasaku (ベジタブルカフェ さくらさく)

Vegetables in Japan are not cheap. One of the few problems when traveling in Japan is if you dine out every day, you might get constipation because of the lack of vegetable intake (´▽`*).

Sakurasaku in Himeji, a vegan-friendly café, is a good spot to resolve this issue. Very close to Himeji Castle, the traditional-style café with a greengrocer appearance offers mouth-watering vegetable dishes cooked from fresh produce that the family sells at the local market. The food is made without additives, and the homemade chewy chiffon cakes are made with seasonal sugar beet, various seasonal vegetables, and fruits!

Sakurasaku’s lunch menu is simple. It is called Daily Lunch Packed With Vegetables (野菜たっぷり日替わりランチ), which comes with a main of your choice and 4 side dishes. The usual main dishes are either fish or meat, but they can make something special if you are on a special diet.

Ⓒ 日本素食交流會: Eliza Yeh

The café also has semi-private seats. If you feel uncomfortable sitting on the traditional tatami mats and dining at the low table, check with the staff to see if the semi-private seats are occupied.

☛ Sakurasaku is a popular café. The Daily Lunch can be sold out quickly. Especially during the cherry blossom and fall foliage season, it is best to make a booking if you plan to have a late lunch or have 4 or more people in your group.
☛ Let the staff know you are a vegetarian or a vegan, as they can cater. Gluten-free options are also available.
☛ The staff speak English.

Because the husband operates a fruit and vegetable shop in the local market, fresh produce is also sold at Sakurasaku. They may also be able to source rare ingredients that can hardly be found in supermarkets (such as fresh wasabi).

Sakurasaku’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Sakurasaku is open from 11 am to 6 pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
  • Refer to our Himeji Castle article for Sakurasaku’s access information.

SAI CAFE(サイカフェ)

If you have tried the famous vegan restaurant Saido (菜道) in Tokyo’s Jiyūgaoka and loved it, you will surely enjoy the dining experience at SAI CAFE in Himeji. The fancy sister restaurant’s menu was designed by Saido’s chief chef, Kusamoto Katsuzo (楠本勝三). Not only can you find Saido’s popular menu items at SAI CAFE, but there are dishes limited to the restaurant in Himeji!

Ⓒ HappyCow: EmilyCheung

In addition to being a vegan cafe, SAI CAFE also caters to halal and oriental vegetarian diets. Pugnent ingredients such as garlic aren’t used.

Like Saido, the noodle dishes served at SAI CAFE are made without animal products, refined sugar, artificial seasonings, or alcohol. The beautifully presented ramen noodle soup is made with mushrooms and fresh locally grown vegetables harvested from Tamba City in Hyōgo Prefecture. The resulting broth containing the maximum flavor is rich and amazing. Combining the soup with the specially made low-carb noodles, it is a bowl of noodle soup you will be addicted to once you taste it.

Even if you are not a vegan, give SAI CAFE a try. The food served here is highly praised by meat-eaters. Halfway through the meal, you won’t remember the dishes don’t contain any animal products!

The Dining Experience at SAIDO CAFE

SAIDO CAFE’s lunch course menu, Saisai Course (菜斎コース), consists of a salad, a main dish, and a dessert. You can choose between noodles or curry rice for the main dish. If you choose the noodles, you then need to decide the soup and noodle types. So while there doesn’t seem to be much variety at first glance, there are numerous noodle dish combinations!

If you are unsure what to order, how about the Ginger Miso (生姜味噌) noodle soup? Ginger is Himeji‘s specialty. It complements the miso broth with just the right amount of spiciness. Once you have the first mouthful, it will be hard to stop drinking it! Plus, the noodle soup is topped with Saido’s vegan half-boiled egg!

Ⓒ HappyCow: EmilyCheung
Ⓒ HappyCow: EmilyCheung
Ⓒ HappyCow: EmilyCheung

The course ends with a cute dessert called Tree’s Berry Mousse (ツリーの木苺ムース). The tree-in-a-pot-like dessert doesn’t just have an interesting appearance. It tastes phenomenal. The tree’s green leaves are made with matcha pound cake. Soil is made from chocolate. If you ask where the sweet and sour berry mousse is, it is hidden in the pot.

If you are a coffee person, SAI CAFE’s coffee is amazing, too. The beans are sourced from Kobe Rokkō (神戸六甲) area’s famous café, Saku Coffee (朔コーヒー). The café specially made a coffee blend for SAI CAFE, so it goes really well with SAI CAFE’s desserts. Each cup is brewed for each order and has a soft taste with little bitterness that absorbs easily into the body.

Tip: SAI CAFE can adjust the spice level of the curry rice.

SAIDO CAFE’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • SAI CAFE is open from 11 am to 10 pm.
    • The last order is at 9 pm.
  • It is a 13-minute walk from JR Nozato Station (野里駅).
  • If you plan to visit Himeji Castle, take a bus and get off at Nozatokitaguchi Kōen-mae (城北公園前). SAI CAFE is then a 5-minute walk from the bus stop.