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food

Gluten-free eating in Japan

20 Comments
By Rachel Crane

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

Food-Allergies-and-Dietary-Restrictions-in-Japan.jpg
The seven ingredients manufacturers are legally obligated to list in Japan. Image: iStock

Here are some useful Japanese phrases when asking about gluten-free food in a Japanese restaurant.

Screenshot-2024-02-03-at-10.37.51.png

Kanji to Know

When shopping in the supermarket or convenience store, always check the label for the following kanji, which indicates gluten-containing ingredients.

Screenshot-2024-02-03-at-10.38.33.png

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Might want to check the yogurt before you buy it too. I picked up a tub of what proclaimed to be Greek yogurt and the ingredients, among a list of emulsifiers, colouring agents, etc., included flour!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I'm happy I don't have a problem. I like bread and noodles.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Some good language tips there for the non-Japanese speaking side of the community.

Warning: 焼きそばパン is a high-carbohydrate food item and essentially a sandwich with a filling of fried wheat noodles. People describe it as a "Japanese noodle gluten-bomb bun."  YSP is not for the gluten allergics for sure.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

BertieWoosterToday  08:21 am JST

Might want to check the yogurt before you buy it too. I picked up a tub of what proclaimed to be Greek yogurt and the ingredients, among a list of emulsifiers, colouring agents, etc., included flour!

Thanks Bertie! I always wondered why the Greek yogurts here tasted like sour cream.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Whole wheat bread and noodles. Soba noodles. All good.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

All good.

It what way?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Yeah, that yakisoba pan is a carbs loaded travesty, lol.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Gluten allergy is a complicated problem with the daily hassle of finding the right foods.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So many people are gluten intolerant these days, it’s strange isn’t it?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Not really. Better diagnostic methods. More awareness. A bit like Asperger syndrome.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

gluten-free diets are generally not well understood or catered for.

Unfortunately the trend in many countries of people without any indication to prefer a gluten-fee diet can easily make this problem worse. When a lot of people without any need ask for things without gluten just because they believe the food will be healthier people stop taking proper care and end up just pretending they are offering things without it, people eat it without any problem and keep coming for more so it seems like an unnecessary precaution... until one of the few with a real allergy or intolerance is served these "gluten-free" options.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No connection between wheat allergy and Asperger syndrome.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Wallace states:

No connection between wheat allergy and Asperger syndrome.

Yes. That seems to be the case. And quite a bizarre connection to make might I add. But it could have been my fault as it was I who put the two ideas in the same comment, so to clarify:

The original comment was:

So many people are gluten intolerant these days, it’s strange isn’t it?

It is not really strange at all in my opinion. I don't claim to be an expert but my reasons are as follows. There are better diagnostic methods of gluten related problems and there is greater awareness of it due to the internet these days, such as this article.

A similar thing happened as reported for an unrelated condition. The CDC say more children are being diagnosed with autism than ever before. The rates may reflect growing awareness of autism spectrum disorder and a focus on getting more children into treatment. 

The same can probably be said for the rise of gluten intolerance cases. I hope that clarifies my comment and I apologies for any confused caused.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Extensive information on wheat allergy has been available for decades.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

So many people are gluten intolerant these days, it’s strange isn’t it?

Extensive information on wheat allergy has been available for decades.

Wallace is right. I’ve heard and read about it for decades. But I have a keen interest in nutrition, you see.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Norm

But it is increasing that's what I said, not that id never heard of it.

Data shows an increase by decade which is unrelated to improved diagnosis.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

So many people are gluten intolerant these days, it’s strange isn’t it?

Ah, “are” means “increasing.” Well, I stand corrected.

Where can I find the data that you have so obviously found?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Norm

Look online and it will give you the reasons why, only takes a minute.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Look online and it will give you the reasons why, only takes a minute.

Thanks. I know the reasons why (the covid pandemic is not listed as one). But I can’t seem to find the actual data.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So many people are gluten intolerant these days, it’s strange isn’t it?

Not really when you realize many of those people have no problem with gluten at all, it is just a false idea that it is unhealthy so to avoid it they like to say they have an allergy or intolerance.

Also some people confuse other problems with gluten intolerance.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-sensitivity-is-real#possible-misnomer

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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