Japan is often described as a foodie’s dream destination. Still, it’s a dream that can often feel like a nightmare for visitors with food allergies and dietary restrictions, and gluten-free visitors are no exception. Rates of celiac disease (セリアック病) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are far lower in Japan than in other parts of the world, meaning that gluten-free diets are generally not well understood or catered for.
Moreover, although wheat is legally required to be listed on restaurant allergy guides and food packaging, other gluten-containing ingredients such as barley and rye may not be highlighted.
However, the number of options for those with gluten allergies in Japan is growing. From adapted versions of iconic dishes like ramen and okonomiyaki to bakeries selling delicious homemade rice flour bread, we’ve put together this guide to dining, shopping and enjoying a safe gluten-free stay in Japan.
Japanese Phrases to Know
The seven ingredients manufacturers are legally obligated to list in Japan. Photo: iStock
Here are some useful Japanese phrases when asking about gluten-free food in a Japanese restaurant.
Kanji to Know
When shopping in the supermarket or convenience store, always check the label for the following kanji, which indicates gluten-containing ingredients.
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