Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Uji

If you plan to visit Uji for Byōdō-in Temple (平等院), consider dining at one of the vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants nearby! In fact, while remaining unknown to most international tourists, Byōdō-in isn’t the only temple filled with Japan’s important cultural properties. Just two stations away from Uji Station, Mampuku-ji is another temple you won’t regret visiting. Plus, you can taste the unique Fucha Ryōri at the temple or one of the restaurants close by!

A List of Vegan or Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Uji

Yamagoya (食堂 山小屋)

If you plan to visit Uji, you can dine at Yamagoya, conveniently located close to JR Uji Station (宇治駅) and Byōdō-in Temple (平等院). It is the only vegan restaurant in Uji.

The restaurant has a traditional appearance. A calm and relaxing atmosphere is created by the Japanese-style interior and old song records being played. Run by a lovely Japanese couple, Yamagoya offers carefully made, incredible vegan Japanese dishes and desserts.

The lunch plate comes with a main dish, brown rice, soup, and a couple more side dishes made from Uji’s fresh organic vegetables. With the wooden tray filled with food, the price is surprisingly kind to our wallets. So if you are on a budget and are after a place to enjoy traditional dishes, Yamagoya should be at the top of your consideration list!

Besides the lunch menu, Yamagoya also offers many handmade baked sweets. There might even be a couple of them that are gluten-free!

Tip: If you need food cooked without pungent ingredients such as garlic, message Yamagoya through their Facebook Page beforehand. You can also check whether they can make you a bento box.

Yamagoya’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Yamagoya is open from 11:30 am to 6 pm from Friday to Wednesday, excluding Sundays.
    • On Sundays, it closes early at 4 pm.
  • The restaurant is a 5-minute walk from JR Uji Station (宇治駅).

WOCCA ROCCA curry and…​​UJI (ウォッカロッカ宇治店)

Another restaurant you can visit in Uji is WOCCA ROCCA curry and…UJI. The curry specialist has one vegan curry rice dish on its standard menu. In addition, all of the curry rice dishes are gluten-free. Another good thing about the restaurant is that you can control the rice portion, which is the best way to keep you satisfied and avoid food waste!

As a curry specialist, the curry served at WOCCA ROCCA curry and…UJI differs from the typical curry you may be used to. With a strong herb aroma, the more you eat, the more you will fall in love with the curry. Because the restaurant aims to provide healthy but delicious food, the spices used to make the curry are carefully selected. So instead of chemical seasonings and artificial colorings, natural spices, such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander, are used.

Besides the spices in the curry paste, there are a couple of different grounded spices available on the table. So you can experiment and add each spice to your curry to see if the flavor you have just created tastes better!

In addition to curry, WOCCA ROCCA curry and…UJI also has an incredible dessert menu. While the menu is brief, the fresh fruits are sweet and high-quality. And what goes really well with their sweet dishes is the Sri Lanka black tea!

Tip: You can see the Uji River from their counter seats.

WOCCA ROCCA curry and…​​UJI’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • WOCCA ROCCA curry and…​​UJI is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm.
    • The last order is taken at 4:30 pm.
  • The restaurant is a 5-minute walk from JR Uji Station (宇治駅).

Mampuku-ji (萬福寺)

Manpuku-ji (萬福寺), close to JR Ōbaku Station (黄檗駅), is a less-known but magnificent and culturally rich religious facility that has 23 Important National Cultural Properties. The temple is the head temple of Japan’s Three Great Zen Schools, Ōbakushū (黄檗宗). The vast precinct will make your visit to Uji unforgettable, especially if you enjoy the Fucha Ryōri for lunch!

For more information, refer to our article on Mampuku-ji!

Manpukuji-Sanmon-Gate-Uji-Kyoto-Japan
© photo-ac.com

Hakuun-an (白雲庵)

Hakuun-an next to the Manpuku-ji also serves Fucha Ryōri. The former Ōbakushū temple, with a traditional appearance and a gorgeous garden, has the perfect setting to enjoy the special cuisine. Even if you don’t plan to dine at Hakuun-an, it is worthwhile to tour the gorgeous garden for a couple of minutes. There is a unique-looking thatched roof teahouse where Hakuun-an’s founder is enshrined!

© Japanese Vegetarian Community: Allen Chang

The cost of dining at Hakuun-an is similar to Manpuku-ji‘s course menu. Although it isn’t cheap, the level of service, the experience, and the dishes justify the cost.

The private rooms are nicely decorated with traditional paintings and flower arrangements. The staff will explain each dish to you (in Japanese, though) so you have a clear idea of what you put in your mouth.

How to Make a Reservation to Dine at Hakuun-an

  • Reservations are essential to dine at Hakuun-an by 5 pm the day before.
  • You can call Hakuun-an at +81-774-32-0770 or fill out a Web Form.
  • Meals are served from 11 am to 4 pm from Friday to Tuesday.
    • The last order is at 2 pm.
    • If Wednesday or Thursday is a public holiday, it will open.

How to Get to Hakuun-an

  • Hakuun-an is a 3-minute walk from JR’s Obaku Station (黄檗駅) and a 5-minute walk from Keihan’s Obaku Station.
  • From Mampuku-ji, it is a 1-minute walk.

Hōzen-in Temple (宝善院)

Hōzen-in is one of the sub-temples of Mampuku-ji. It also serves Fucha Ryōri. Like Mampuku-ji, you must make a reservation at least 3 days in advance because the monks need to wake up at 2 am to prepare the food for you.

Tip: At Hōzen-in, you can have your meal at a normal dining table or a Japanese low table.

  • To book, please call +81-774-32-4683. You can also send them an enquiry using the Web Form.
  • You have to have at least 4 people to reserve.
  • The cost is 6,600 yen per person.

Hōzen-in is a temple that enshrines the 8 Buddhas and Bodhisattva that look after the 12 zodiacs. So in the temple’s garden, you will find all the Buddha statues surrounded by certain animals. If you find them cute, you can purchase earthen bells painted by Kyoto‘s painting craftsmen from the temple.

How to Get to Hōzen-in

  • Hōzen-in is a 6-minute walk from JR’s Obaku Station (黄檗駅) and a 3-minute walk from Keihan’s Obaku Station.
  • From Mampuku-ji, it is a 2-minute walk.

Ichō-an (銀杏庵)

For a more premium experience, visit Ichō-an. The restaurant only takes up to 4 groups of guests, enabling them to serve you properly even during the peak season. Not only does the Ichō-an have an elegant interior, but the seasonal ingredients used to prepare the meal are also high quality, such as the Matsutake mushrooms (松茸) available in autumn. The more you eat, the more you will be amazed by the dishes in front of you.

  • Reservations are accepted up to 2 months beforehand. You need at least 2 people to make a reservation.
  • Normally, it costs 7,500 yen per person, but if your group has 10 or more people, it is only 5,400 yen.
  • To reserve, call +81-774-33-0019.
  • Ichō-an is open from 11:30 am to 4 pm from Wednesday to Monday.

Important: In April, May, October, and November, you have to have more than 2 people to reserve.

Vegan Ramen (寺そば) at Hōzō-in Temple (宝蔵院)

If Fucha Ryōri doesn’t appeal to you, or you are after a cheaper lunch, visit Hōzō-in for its vegan ramen noodles. As there are only 30 servings per day, call the temple at +81-774-31-8026 to reserve! The best news is it only costs 600 yen per noodle soup, so it is probably the cheapest way to dine in a traditional tatami room in Japan!

Although it is cheap, the broth and toppings are surprisingly tasty. Based on the Buddha’s teaching, the 5 toppings are of different colors: green, yellow, red, white, and black. As no pungent ingredients, such as garlic, are used, you won’t have bad breath afterwards.

The noodle soup flavors are changed according to the season.

  • Spring (the 21st of March to the 5th of May): Light soy sauce-based
  • Summer (the 6th of May to the 23rd of September): Shio (salt) based
  • Autumn (the 24th of September to the 7th of November): Dark soy sauce-based
  • Winter (the 8th of November to the 20th of March): Miso soy milk-based

Even if you don’t understand Japanese, your visit to Hōzō-in should be easy. After finishing the noodle soup, you can take a little tour around the temple if you visit it on a weekend.

Important: Vegan ramen is only served at Hōzō-in from Thursday to Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm.

Why Hōzō-in Started Serving Vegan Ramen

The reason why the temple started selling noodle soups is to fund maintaining the designated important national cultural property, Tetsugenban Issai Kyōhan Moku (鉄眼版一切経版木), that Hōzō-in holds. In the mid-17th century, printers weren’t yet invented. Woodblock printing was used to produce more Buddha sutras quickly, and the Tetsugenban Issai Kyōhan Moku, comprising around 60,000 woodblocks, were made.

So by dining at Hōzō-in, you are contributing to maintaining an important part of human history!

How to Get to Hōzō-in

  • Hōzō-in is a 6-minute walk from Keihan or JR’s Obaku Station (黄檗駅).
  • From Mampuku-ji, it is a 2-minute walk.

Discover the Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto

Ramen-TowZen-Kyoto-Vegan-Ramen-Restaurant
Click the photo for more vegan-friendly restaurants in Kyoto!

When you visit Japan’s Kansai region, Uji certainly won’t be the only prefecture on your itinerary.

If you also plan to visit other attractions in Kyoto and need help finding vegan/vegetarian food, refer to our Top Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto for places to enjoy delicious vegan/vegetarian dishes!