5 Best Gluten-Free Cooking Classes in Japan

By Paula Chiarino
Updated: April 2, 2024

If you thought rice would make Japan a gluten-free paradise, you’re not alone. While rice is a star ingredient in many dishes, like sushi, mochi, gyudon, and the like, unfortunately, so is wheat, present in everything from sauces to toppings. Now, for the good news: while finding gluten-free options in Japan can be deceptively tricky, there are ways to enjoy the country’s culinary offerings without compromising your dietary requirements.


Apart from restaurants that serve gluten-free foods, there’s another option — making a gluten-free meal yourself! Participating in a fun, hands-on cooking class is a great way to venture into the Japanese gourmet scene, learn how to use Japanese ingredients, and enjoy the country’s classic foods that have taken the world by storm while having peace of mind about your dietary needs. 

Here are a few options for gluten-free cooking classes all over Japan.

5 Gluten-Free Cooking Classes to Try in Japan

  1. Vegan Buddhist shojin ryori cooking class in Setagaya, Tokyo
  2. Make gluten-free and vegan ramen made from scratch at a Japanese home
  3. Private character bento cooking class in Osaka
  4. Private wagashi cooking class in Setagaya, Tokyo
  5. Sushi cooking class (plus a Kichijoji neighborhood tour)

1. Vegan Buddhist shojin ryori cooking class in Setagaya, Tokyo


Kickstart your gluten-free journey in Japan with insider insights from a local who also follows a gluten-free diet herself. Meet Yuka, the host for this home cooking class inspired by shojin ryori, the vegan meals of Buddhist monks with a gluten-free twist.

Designed to nurture body and mind, shojin ryori transcended their spiritual origins and became widely enjoyed by all ranks of society. Yuka follows a gluten-free diet, so she has made this class gluten-free, and you can feel safe cooking in her home kitchen. As you get to know her over your delicious home-cooked meal, feel free to ask her all your pressing questions and ask for restaurant recommendations.

Interested? Book this vegan and gluten-free cooking class on byFood!

2. Make gluten-free and vegan ramen made from scratch at a Japanese home

Gluten-free cooking class in Japan

What is a trip to Japan without eating ramen, they say? Unfortunately for us gluten-free foodies, it’s never that simple. While the country has a staggering number of ramen shops and restaurants, it’s rare to find any that cater to gluten-free customers. So, why not take matters into your own hands and prepare your perfect bowl of gluten-free ramen in Tokyo?

Head to a local’s home in Kunitachi, a Tokyo suburb, to make and enjoy ramen with gluten-free noodles. Opt for a chicken miso ramen base or a vegan vegetable broth, and check off ramen from your travel bucket list as you enjoy a warm bowl of Japan’s celebrated noodles completely gluten-free.

Don't skip on ramen! Book this gluten-free cooking class on byFood.

3. Private character bento cooking class in central Osaka

Gluten-free cooking class in Japan

Don’t let the airline meal you had on your way to Japan trick you into believing gluten-free boxed meals have to be dull and tasteless. In this private lesson, you’ll learn how to assemble your own kyaraben, also known as a character bento — Japan’s cute packed lunch inspired by anime characters. 

Samurai Max, the bilingual and bicultural instructor for this lesson, can adapt to your dietary needs. He will teach you how to turn naturally gluten-free ingredients like rice, seaweed, sausages, and more into cute edible creations that you can enjoy while soaking up the cityscapes of Osaka from the kitchen studio's terrace.

Book this gluten-free cooking class on byFood!

4. Private wagashi cooking class in Setagaya, Tokyo

Gluten-free cooking class in Japan

A quintessentially Japanese sweet that’s also naturally gluten-free, nerikiri are confectioneries (or wagashi) traditionally enjoyed with matcha green tea. Made with white bean paste (shiroan), mochi flour, water, and other ingredients, these tiny pieces of edible art have a very delicate taste that isn’t overly sweet and are naturally gluten-free.

Nerikiri are best enjoyed through all five senses — their striking motifs and creative arrangements are mesmerizing! You can try making your own nerikiri sweets in a residential neighborhood in Tokyo, where you can enjoy your creations with matcha in your host’s tatami room. This is a perfect experience for matcha-loving gluten-free foodies.

Sweettooths will love this one. Book this gluten-free cooking class on byFood!

5. Sushi cooking class (plus a Kichijoji neighborhood tour)

Gluten-free cooking class in Japan

Rice and fish, sushi is that one simple food that’s always there for us gluten-free people... Or is it? Although sushi doesn’t have a long ingredient list, it does have a long list of things that could go wrong. Gluten could be present in the vinegar used in the rice, the seaweed might be dressed in soy sauce, and that’s not to mention the potential cross-contamination from other ingredients. This is why even seemingly safe nigiri sushi made of fish and rice are often signaled as containing wheat in many sushi restaurants.

Tucked in the residential neighborhood of Kichijoji, this experience includes a sushi-making class with an instructor with 10 years of experience under their belt. You’ll make and enjoy a scrumptious sushi lunch and explore Kichijoji with your instructor, who will introduce interesting spots in this lesser-known residential area of Tokyo away from the tourist crowds.

Book this gluten-free cooking class on byFood!

Pro tip: Don’t forget to inform your host about your gluten-free needs upon booking any food-related experience or restaurant on byFood, so they can make the necessary arrangements. Some of the hosts have gluten and non-gluten options available, and they can accommodate gluten-free requests if they have enough time to prepare.

Okonomiyaki, tempura, udon, ramen. Plenty of Japanese foods contain gluten in one way or another, whether in the shape of batter, noodles, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, or all of the above. But the tide is slowly turning, and thankfully, gluten-free food experiences are becoming more readily available all over Japan.

Gluten-free classes in Japan FAQs

Gluten-free cooking class in Japan

Is Japan gluten-free friendly?

It’s complicated. While there are gluten-free foods in Japan, there’s still little awareness of what gluten is, and most restaurants cannot accommodate requests for gluten-free options due to cross-contamination concerns. 

Unlike other countries, Japan doesn’t have an official gluten-free symbol, which can make it difficult for travelers to easily identify which foods are gluten-free unless they can read through the ingredients list in Japanese.

It’s best to ask a Japanese speaker for help or look for restaurants and products marked as “gluten-free” in English. If all else fails, sticking to foods that, by definition, don’t contain gluten (fruits, rice, meat, and vegetables) should be safe enough. However, you’ll still need to avoid sauces, condiments, or toppings that may contain gluten. The options are varied, however, and in recent years, the availability of gluten-free products in Japan has surged.

Does Japanese glutinous rice contain gluten?

Japanese rice mochigome, often referred to as “glutinous rice”, is actually gluten-free. “Glutinous” is merely a term to describe the sticky texture of this particular rice variety and, confusingly, is unrelated to gluten itself.

In short, Japanese plain white rice is gluten-free, but again, watch out for potential gluten if other grains are thrown into the mix. Rice with pearl barley, known as “mochi mugi gohan”, for one, is a popular Japanese rice dish that does contain gluten.

Are soba noodles gluten-free?

Although soba means buckwheat, most soba noodles are unfortunately not gluten-free; they are typically made with a mix of buckwheat and wheat flour.

Having said that, soba noodles made with 100% buckwheat flour can be found in supermarkets and shops and, ever so rarely, in restaurants, too. Like with other foods, avoid soy sauce-based dipping sauce, or even better, bring a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce with you and enjoy these noodles the traditional way.

Browse more gluten-free experiences on byFood, including gluten-free food tours and dining experiences!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Paula Chiarino
Paula is a writer from Uruguay. She enjoys discovering and sharing gluten-free food experiences and restaurants in Tokyo.
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