Sustainable Sweet [Spring] Talk at Taiko Udon

Here we are talking spring and sustainability in a new series for 2019 titled “Sustainable-Sweet-Talk”. This is an exciting new collaboration with local food expert, Hiroshima Food Snob, who in her mere eight years in Hiroshima has gone to university and run her own cool cafe and is now working as a writer, TV talent and translator- so exciting to work with someone so passionate and knowledgeable about Japanese food. We both love sweets, so even if we don’t eat sweets every time (although we likely will), focusing on sustainable innovation is always SWEET as in awesome if you don’t mind my dated slang.

HiroshimaFoodSnob and I will meet up regularly to introduce you to the best local events and eateries that have great products and services, like Taiko Udon above, which operate with a higher-than-business-as-usual-level focus on sustainability.

In this video, we introduce some great nature-based sakura viewing activities for travelers coming to Hiroshima in Spring. Read more about Spring festivals and events in Hiroshima on GetHiroshima

Rachel (Hiroshima Food Snob) has written a great introduction to Taiko Udon in Hiroshima city here.

From a sustainable business model, Taiko Udon is a great case study of innovation and business strategy. The owner attended many of the inbound marketing seminars by GetHiroshima/Jizo Hat and was keen to meet the new demand by international travelers to Japan searching for vegan Japanese dining options. Taiko-Udon now has created a menu filled with beautifully flavorful, plant-based soup broth vegan noodle options- relatively unheard of in most Japanese restaurants across Japan.

The owner is also keen to address waste issues by tackling chopstick or utensil single-use waste. Taiko-Udon provides more sustainable versions of the disposable chopstick for diners, created from locally sourced bamboo. But above and beyond the norm, Taiko-Udon also sells light, clean and beautiful wooden reusable dining sets in a foldable case for 500 yen. This is a great resource for locals and travelers looking for a portable “myhashi” utensil solution to the single-use problem.

In terms of sustainable-business operations, Taiko Udon ticks a lot of boxes: transparency of operations (good English and Japanese menu), seasonal varieties of food sourced from local areas, reusable cutlery, and caters to the needs of customers with religious, allergy or dietary restrictive lifestyles: the vegan options with 100% plant-based soup stock (dashi) is a welcome, sustainable innovation at a Japanese noodle shop.

The owner of Taiko says of his reasons to switch to a plant-based soup stock and sell reusable cutlery, “We do what we can do”. This is the absolute key to sustainable business success. First, make clear, realistic goals, then reassess progress, renew goals, & repeat.

FOO Chocolaters Aims to Balance the Needs of People and Planet


Tucked off to the left side of Hiroshima airport’s 3rd floor is a hidden gem, a chocolate factory and shop called FOO. This classy chocolate shop is something special not only because of its excellent products, but also for operations that follow high-level sustainability aims.

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Tourism Demand Driving Japan’s Vegan Boom

Over the last twenty years, vegan or vegetarian residents and visitors have had to settle with the limited salad or side offerings available at eateries across Japan. As environmental awareness has influenced the number of non-meat and non-fish eaters abroad, however, the percentage of inbound visitors seeking alternative meals to Japan’s typical fare of Sushi, Ramen, Tonkatsu and Yakiniku is also increasing. There is currently no data on the eating habits or dietary diversity of inbound visitors to Japan, but a look at the country of origin of inbound visitors and the percentages of veganism and vegetarian in those countries gives us an indication that at least 5-10% of international visitors to Japan do not eat meat or fish. Of the 30 million international visitors to Japan in 2018, this would be between 1.5 to 3 million annual vegan or vegetarian visitors coming to Japan. Add to this the higher percentage of meat eaters who occasionally choose plant-based options and demand is even higher.
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