New kitchen-sharing service airKitchen Plus recently launched in Japan to give travelers access to home kitchens that offer vegan and vegetarian meals. The online service allows travelers to book and eat home-cooked Japanese meals made for them by local hosts in their homes. It was created to give access to meat-free food in a nation where finding plant-based meals can be difficult. While many traditional dishes offered in Japanese restaurants are vegetable-based, such as nimono (simmered) vegetables, gohan (rice dishes), vegetable shabu-shabu, and miso soup, bonito fish flakes are an ingredient used in most stocks. “We think it is [a] big problem that vegan/vegetarian travelers can’t enjoy Japanese food (especially outside of main cities) because there are not enough vegan-friendly restaurants in Japan,” Yuta Murase, co-founder of airKitchen Plus, said. “That’s why we started the service—to help them enjoy Japanese food.” The process for booking a meal is simple: Go to the airKitchen Plus website, select your favorite menu in a city you are staying in, and then book your meal with that host. Through the service, travelers can enjoy kawaii vegan bento in Tokyo, kazari maki sushi rolls in Kyoto, shojin ryori in Osaka, teishoku in Hokkaido, and a traditional Japanese tea-tasting in Kanagawa. The service also gives travelers an opportunity to converse with a local Japanese resident and learn about the culture and food.
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