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Gluten free vacation in Japan

Jean-Ann learned a few things about being gluten free in Japan during her 23 day vacation

Here’s what I can tell you from my trip, which included Tokyo, Kyoto, Matsuyama, and some smaller cities:

The Japanese celiac language card worked everywhere. I stayed in an old traditional inn run by a very old woman, and she read the card, understood what I needed and made me the best meals I had in three weeks.

But Japanese food is tricky. There is soy sauce in everything. So I always needed to ask, show the card, and use my best judgment. Even the rice is not always safe - many restaurants, even good ones, now make their rice with barley, which has gluten. Sushi rice is always safe, as far as I can tell. Sushi was a good choice, when it was available, as long as I avoided anything that looked like it had a brown sauce.

I would also advise avoiding non-Japanese restaurants. I ordered paella in a “Spanish” restaurant one night, thinking it would be safe. I believe they made the paella with a flour-based white sauce - and I was sick the next day. That being said, I had dinner in an “Italian” restaurant one night, and used the Japanese card and had a perfectly adequate, and safe, meal.

Moochi - I love these sweet rice treats and they are always safe. I kept dried fruit and nuts with me for most of the trip. I avoided pre-made train food and any convenience food unless I was certain.

Thanks again for the information on your web site - you really truly helped me have a good trip.

Jean-Ann Wertz

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