Japanese Decoded: Natural Foods & Dietary Restrictions

Eat Well, Live Well

By The Savvy Team
April 9, 2020
Food & Drink, Lifestyle

In many ways, Japan is ahead of other developed countries in terms of natural, organic and sustainable foods, but that doesn't mean these things are particularly easy for non-Japanese readers when it comes to deciphering these writings and strange labels. If you're desperate to find what you can or can't eat in Japan, read the article below and become a pro at decoding Japanese tags.

Have you ever find yourself in a supermarket, holding an item and having strictly no idea of what was written on the label? Well, we do. When you don’t read Japanese or if you’re still learning, looking for some food when you have a specific diet can become a living hell. Food is essential, good food and especially food that is aligned with your personal diet is even more essential—we would say vital, actually.

Even though Japanese is a beautiful language, it can be tricky to decipher its writings, especially in busy supermarkets after a long day at work. Below is a list of terms commonly used on the labels of natural or specific diet food products. Memorize these—or print out the list and take it with you when you go shopping.

Natural Foods

Japanese Decoded: Natural Foods & Dietary Requirements Natural Foods

May it be Japan or elsewhere, organic foods and ready-to-eat meals are trending. We are becoming more and more conscious of what we eat and how we fuel our body, getting ourselves into a more natural lifestyle.

It seems obvious that the food we choose is the best weapon we have when trying to get healthier, but we still have to decode these labels! This first list below is perfect when you are on the look for organic, more ethical or natural items to grab.

Japanese Rōmaji English
放し飼い hanashigai free-range
放し飼い卵 hanashigai tamago free-range eggs
手づくり / 手作り tezukuri homemade/handmade
無添加 mutenka additive-free
無農薬 munouyaku pesticide-free
自然派 shizenha all-natural
自然食品 shizen shokuhin natural product
有機栽培 yuuki saibai organic farming/organically farmed
有機野菜 yuuki yasai organic vegetables
有機 yuuki organic

usually used for foods

オーガニック ooganikku organic

can also be used for other products, such as cosmetics

organic 2

Japanese Rōmaji
100%草飼料で育った肉 hyaku paasento kusashiryou de sodatta niku 100 percent grass-fed meat
地元 jimoto local
有機肥料 yuuki hiryou organic fertilizer
農薬 nouyaku agricultural chemicals

(e.g. pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.)

生産者 seisansha producer, manufacturer
保存料 hazonryou preservatives
着色料 chakushokuryou (food) coloring
遺伝子組み換え idenshikumikae genetically modified, GMO
放射性物質 houshasei busshitsu radioactive material
放射性物質検査合格 houshasei busshitsu kensa goukaku  indicates products that have been tested

and are free of radiation

Dietary Requirements

Are you following a specific diet? It could be for health reasons, convictions or just in order to try out something new for your body—anyway, there is always that moment where you have to explain what is your diet or look for that label on a package. Take a look at the list below to find your own!

Japanese Decoded: Natural Foods & Dietary Requirements

Japanese Rōmaji English
グルテンフリー /グルテン不使用 guruten furii/guruten fushiyou gluten-free
シュガーフリー/砂糖不使用 shugaa furii/satou fushiyou sugar-free
ナッツフリー nattsu furii nut-free
乳製品不使用 nyuuseihin fushiyou dairy-free
ベジタリアン bejitarian vegetarian
ヴィーガン, ビーガン viigan, biigan vegan
note: both are correct but the first one will dig more results when looking up on the internet

You may have noticed that 不使用 (fushiyou) and フリー (furii) are both used in these kinds of expressions, they basically mean the same thing. フリー roughly translate as “free” and has become a common way to say “without” when it comes to food labeling.

Is there something you need and don’t see on that list? Leave a comment below or contact us so that we can add it right away! 

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