Culinary Japan - Tour of Japan - Japanspecialist
From street food to gourmet cuisine, go on a journey into Japan's unique culinary scene.
Japan has an incredibly varied culinary scene. It's a nation known for its exquisite quality food and niche local specialities. This tour will take you on a deep dive through the culinary scene of Japan that perhaps you didn't know existed. Join us on a journey across the country to discover there's much more to Japan's food scene than just sushi and ramen.
You'll depart from Europe to Tokyo on an overnight flight, so get ready for your great Japanese culinary adventure the following days.
You'll arrive in Tokyo and transfer to central Tokyo by shared taxi or airport limousine bus.
Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, with an incredible 304 restaurants on the list as of 2020, so there are plenty of options for every taste. You will be staying in the heart of Shinjuku, Tokyo's most vibrant district. The area is home to an incredible number of restaurants. A classic ramen shop is ideal for a first lunch in Japan, and there are plenty located around Shinjuku Station.
Afterwards, make your way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to enjoy the awesome city view from the top floor. On clear days, you see Mt. Fuji!
In the evening, depending on your appetite, make your way to a sukiyaki (Japanese hotpot) restaurant or a simple izakaya (Japanese pub). Our specialists will gladly give you their recommendations.
Early in the morning, make your way to Tsukiji, where you will meet our English-speaking guide for a three-hour small group tour of Tsukiji Fish Market.
You will stop by different stores and taste local specialities and learn about the Japanese condiments. The tour will end at a sushi restaurant where you will enjoy some fresh sushi.
After the tour, you can make your way on foot to nearby Ginza, Tokyo's famous district for upscale shopping. If you're still hungry, you could make your way to Mitsukoshi Department Store, where the food hall is an attraction in itself. Here you can find an incredible variety of Japanese delicacies, from salads to sweets, from dumplings to cakes. Ginza also has excellent restaurant options for dinner. Otherwise, make your way back to Shinjuku.
If you are looking for the atmosphere of the old Tokyo, make your way to the Asakusa district. The district's main attraction is Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo's oldest and most famous temple, which dates back to 645. Leading up to the temple's main hall is Nakamise shopping street where you’ll find typical Japanese souvenirs and snacks.
From here, you can easily walk to Kappabashi Street. This street has dozens of stores selling kitchen goods like knives, dishes, pots, pans and even wax food samples!
Then you can make your way on foot to Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan. There are two observation decks. On a clear day, you can also see Mt. Fuji. There is a large shopping centre with an aquarium and a large variety of restaurants at its base.
There are plenty of options if you want a day trip from Tokyo. Yokohama, Japan's second-largest city, is just 45 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station. It's home to many fun attractions. The Ramen Museum is a unique museum where you can learn all about this popular dish, and on the basement floors, you will find a replica of how Tokyo looked in the 1950s. The museum also has restaurants featuring different ramen dishes from different regions in Japan.
You can then make your way to another museum, The Cup Noodle Museum. The museum's main attraction is the workshop where you can create your own original cup noodles by mixing soup flavours and toppings.
Yokohama was one of the first Japanese ports to be opened to foreign trade, and the city has kept its international atmosphere. One example is Yokohama Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the country. Here you will find plenty of restaurants and food stands, a great place for an early dinner.
Today, it is time to leave Tokyo and continue our journey southwards to explore the splendid nature and onsen (hot springs) of the Izu Peninsula.
After a two-hour train ride, you will arrive in Izu Kogen. Here you'll find some of Japan's most dramatic coastlines. A nine-kilometre hiking trail follows the coastline and allows you to enjoy the beautiful nature and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.
In the afternoon, make your way to your traditional Japanese inn, ryokan, for an unforgettable experience. After check-in, enjoy a nice long bath in a traditional Japanese onsen. After, for dinner, you'll enjoy traditional Japanese cooking, kaiseki, made by master chefs with seasonal and local ingredients.
After a good night's sleep, you will be served a traditional Japanese breakfast at your ryokan. After breakfast, make your way to Mt. Omuro. This extinct volcano offers 360-degree panoramic views that include Mt. Fuji (on a clear day) and the Pacific Ocean coastline. Go back to your ryokan to enjoy a relaxing bath in the hot springs before enjoying another unforgettable gourmet dinner.
After breakfast at your ryokan, it's time to travel to Kyoto by Japan's famous shinkansen (bullet train). The city was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868; it has over 1600 temples and 400 Shinto shrines, a famous traditional geisha area (Gion), numerous fascinating museums and historical neighbourhoods!
A nice introduction to Kyoto would be a visit to Kinkaku-ji, the famous Golden Pavilion, which you can visit in combination with the nearby Ryoan-ji temple, which features Japan's most famous rock garden. Then visit Nijo castle, the ancient samurai castle with giant moats, winding paths and fine interior displays.
In the evening, make your way to Kyoto's most famous geisha district Gion. The district has a high concentration of traditional wooden merchant houses that function today as shops, teahouses, and restaurants.
In the morning, you will meet our English-speaking guide for a three-hour small group tour of Nishiki Market, also known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen'. At a few stops, you will sample specialty products and learn more about Japanese ingredients and how they are used in Japanese cuisine. After your market exploration, you will walk to a nearby restaurant and have lunch.
After lunch, you say goodbye to your guide and enjoy the afternoon at your leisure. You could head to the Fushimi Sake District. This traditional and charming district in southern Kyoto is known for its local sake breweries. Some of them are open to the public, and you can learn more about the sake production. It's also possible to taste and purchase their products.
In the morning, make your way to the famous Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), home to one of Japan's most fascinating landscape gardens. This is also the starting point of the Philosopher's Path, a trail along a small stream leading you to the Nanzen-ji Temple, one of Japan's most important Zen temples. Continuing further south, you will reach Kiyomizu-dera, offering nice views of Kyoto in the distance. The hilly streets leading up to the temple have numerous local shops selling souvenirs and local snacks.
The nearby Yasaka Shrine is also worth a visit. This shrine is well known for its summer festival, the Gion Matsuri, celebrated every July and Japan's most famous traditional festival.
For your last dinner in Kyoto, head to Pontocho. Arguably Kyoto's most atmospheric dining areas. The restaurants of the eastern side overlook the Kamogawa River, and during the summer months, they build temporary platforms over the river for outdoor dining.
It is time to leave Kyoto and make your way to nearby Osaka, your final stop on this tour.
You'll start exploring this exciting metropolis by visiting Osaka Castle. The original castle dates back to 1583, but it has been destroyed several times throughout the years. Today, you can visit a modern reconstruction of the castle.
After the castle, you'll travel to your hotel and check in before this afternoon's guided tour. You will meet our English-speaking guide for a three-hour small group tour of Dotonbori, Osaka's entertainment district. Together with your guide, you stroll through the busy streets of this popular district, and you will stop at different restaurants and food stalls to taste Osaka's specialities. Highlights include kushikatsu (fried skewers) and Michelin-rated takoyaki. Your guide will take you then to a hidden izakaya (Japanese pub), where you will taste a wide range of Japanese dishes that change according to the season.
Today is your last day in Japan, but there's still a lot to experience. Travel to Osaka's waterfront, where you can visit the Osaka Aquarium, one of Japan's best. Next to the aquarium, you can make a brief stop at Mount Tempozan, known as Japan's smallest mountain; the summit is just 4.5 meters above sea level.
You continue your day by travelling to Umeda, Osaka's northern downtown. Here you can visit the Umeda Sky Building, a unique skyscraper with an open-air observation deck offering impressive views of Osaka. Umeda is also home to several department stores, the perfect opportunity to buy some last-minute souvenirs.
For your last dinner, you will once again find many options near your hotel. Maybe splurge on a teppanyaki (grill) restaurant where you can try the famous Kobe beef.
Early in the morning, you have a transfer (by shared taxi or airport bus) to Osaka Itami airport or Osaka Kansai airport and return to Europe. We hope this has been a culinary adventure you won't forget.
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