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Gluten Free in Tokyo

Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
October 11, 2012

On my first trip to Tokyo since I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance 3 yeara ago. I was worried that finding gluten free options was going to be a big problem. I’ve heard both sides of the story: “the Japanese diet is healthy, eating fish and vegetables”, and “the awareness of gluten intolerance is very low as soy sauce (containing wheat) is in everything”.

I’d have to say, I’m finding both to be true. Most of the people are unaware of the “gluten intolerance and celiac” epidemic that seem to be happening in the U.S. They try to be helpful but explaining the situation and what to do about almost takes as long as the meal itself.

A couple of observations: the Japanese people do eat much more healthy the the average American. Plenty of fish and vegetables, teas, water over sodas. Obesity and diabetes are rare compared to the U.S. The average Japanese person is fairly fit due to the constant walking every day. So it seems that the onset of gluten intolerance and celiac (and other auto immune diseases) haven’t emerged due to environmental triggers and lack of physical exercise. (Many people in Tokyo rarely watch television as they are always on the go). I still hope to find manufacturers, vendors, distributors, suppliers and nutritionalists and advocates within the “gluten free” community here.

I did have a wonderful dinner at a sushi bar in Roppongi, Itamae Sushi,

The host spoke very good English and understood (to a point) what my situation was, and was very accomodating. He substituted some of the pieces made with soy sauce for non-soy sauce sushi and explained to the chef. In the three years that he worked there, this was his first encounter with gluten intolerance.

I’m looking forward for a great foodie adventure in the coming week.



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