Kamikochi is an incredible, stupidly picturesque area of the Northern Japanese Alps in Nagano Prefecture. It’s accessible by bus from Takayama (Gifu Prefecture), so while staying in Takayama I squeezed in a day trip here. You do have to transfer buses in Hirayu Onsen, which is a little annoying, but if you plan your day well you can take advantage of the onsen there during the wait! So all-in-all it’s a pretty enjoyable day trip.
The thing-to-do in Kamikochi is hike, and it’s easy to burn a lot of calories there. I wasn’t sure what the food scene would be like, so I ended up packing a really unnecessarily large amount of food. As it turned out, there were actually numerous shops with vegan options!
The first place I stopped at was アルピコショップ (Arupico Shop) which is right next to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal. Arupico Shop which carries various snacks as well as various types of Oyaki & Mochi. Oyaki is basically just a delicious soba bun filled with whatever, and luckily for vegans that “whatever” often is vegetables. Mochi are rice cakes, and every region and shop has it’s own kind.
Vegetable Oyaki is almost always vegan. However, because there’s always the chance of sneaky fish-or-shrimp ingredients, I always make sure to ask before buying. I actually didn’t end up buying oyaki from this shop, because I’d brought a lot of food, but I did buy some frozen oyaki from a shop further down the road (towards the hiking trails). Still, it’s much better to eat the fresh, so if you have a chance ask at this shop to make sure they’re vegan and get some! They have つばあん(Tsubuan, sweet bean), かぼちゃ(kabocha, pumpkin), なす (nasu, eggplant), ピリ辛野菜(Piri Kara Yasai, Spicy Vegetables), and 野沢菜(Nozawana, mustard leaf). All of these are likely vegan.
They also had various types of grilled mochi (rice cake). I opted for the Umakappe Mochi (a type of Age Mochi, fried mochi), after asking to make sure it didn’t have any fish sauce in the sauce. It was grilled in soy sauce with a few pieces of nori seaweed on top. It was sooooooo gooood, and a perfect high-energy snack for a hike!
And, since I had to wait for my return bus for a while, I picked up some local beer. One of the things I really miss about Japan is being able to just sip a beer in public without looking like a raging alcoholic. So refreshing!
If you end up traveling to Kamikochi, I’d recommend bringing a small meal and some protein source to sustain you, since finding a full vegan-friendly meal at any of the area’s restaurants is unlikely. But there are plenty of options of high-energy, vegan-friendly and downright delicious snacks available, so you certainly won’t go hungry during your visit!