We all know that one of the greatest parts of living in Japan is the festival culture – a delightful mixture of the booze and live music found in western festivals, combined with the childlike innocence of carnivals – rides, booth games, entertainers, little stalls selling all kinds of things and of course festival food! But if yakiniku and takoyaki doesn’t make you want to squeal ‘natsukashiii’ and you are more partial to foods of the vegetable variety, navigating these playgrounds for grown ups can be a leeettle bit difficult, so here’s are a couple of veggie-inclusive recommendations.
Higashi Betsuin Temple
This beautiful temple boasts two different festivals, with the first being an organic produce market on the 12th of every month. The vendors come mostly from Aichi and Gifu prefectures, and the quality of the produce is impeccable. The second festival at Higashi-betsuin temple is on the 28th of each month, and is a larger version of the former, with objects other than food for sale too. Everything from jewellery to pottery to eastern European stationary is available. Here, there are many vendors selling vegan cakes, bentos, potted herbs (this is where I got my beloved and much sought after coriander plant – why is it not a thing here?!) and of course, fruits and vegetables. Higashi-betsuin temple is most easily accessible on the Meijo line, a close walking distance from Higashi-betsuin station.
The Kakuozan matsuri at Nittaiji Temple
Another temple that holds festivals twice monthly! On the 21st of every month, the street leading up to Nittaji temple is full of vendors selling organic fruit and vegetables, all types of beans; grains and legumes, vegan-friendly bread (a rare delicacy here) and beautiful handmade Japanese sweets such as mochi and ohagi – a fluffier and sweeter approach to the consumption of rice. The second festival at Nittaji temple is on the first Sunday of every month, in the car park of the 7/11 (on the same road leading to the temple) and spilling onto the street. Though smaller than the former, it’s an all organic market with the same deal – local produce and various earth-conscious goods, changing month to month. Nittaji temple is most easily accessible on the Higashiyama line, a close walking distance from Kakuozan station.
Of course, the ultimate vegan festival is the Nagoya Vegan Festival which will be held in Tsurumai park on Sunday, the 14th of May this year. Held in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagoya annually, its full of health foods; junk foods, and variations of mock meat so people of all food preferences and persuasions can eat together happily in a festival setting, isn’t that lovely.
You can see more of my foodie festival finds on my Instagram @vegansofnagoya