Japan Real Food Adventure

Intrepid Travel Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
12 days
From: $ 5,690 $ 474 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Take part in a truly unique Obanzai cooking class in Kyoto. This ancient style of multi-course feast focuses on using locally grown seasonal produce and reducing waste.
  • Learn the tricks of the trade when you take part in a hands-on sushi making class in Tokyo and a super tasty takoyaki or noodle demonstration in Osaka.
  • Get a fresh perspective on Japanese cuisine when you explore the stalls of seafood and produce markets in Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, Osaka and Kyoto.
  • When you’re not busy eating, enjoy iconic experiences like the shinkansen bullet train, Hida folk village, Kenroku-en garden and Kyoto’s Gion district.
  • Sip back and relax when you visit a sake brewery in the alpine town of Hida-Furukawa and learn about the importance of tea during a private ceremony in Kyoto.

Short Description

Take your tastebuds on a 12-day culinary journey through Japan’s most delicious hotspots, relishing the contrasting flavours of the land of the rising sun. Uncover the secrets of sushi in Tokyo, experience the monastic cuisine of Koya-san, explore the tantalising takoyaki stalls that line Osaka’s vibrant streets and take part in a traditional obanzai cooking class in Kyoto. From temples to tempura, shrines to sashimi, seafood markets to sake breweries, join a local leader on a food-focused adventure that has all the best Japanese ingredients.

Style Small group tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Tokyo
End City Kyoto

Destinations

Japan

Attractions & Cities Visited

Kanazawa Kyoto Osaka Tokyo

Activities & Interests

Cooking

Age Requirement

15-99

No single supplement
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Itinerary

Day 1 Tokyo

Konnichiwa, welcome to Japan! Between the freshest ingredients and generations of culinary know-how, this is a country that really celebrates the art of eating well. And as for Tokyo, where your adventure begins – it’s a food lover’s dream. A welcome meeting will take place at 6pm tonight where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers. If you get to Tokyo with time to spare, you may like to head out to explore the different sides of the city, from fascinating museums to neighbourhood backstreets lined with izakaya and karaoke bars. After your meeting, it’s time to get acquainted with local cuisine over a welcome dinner with your group. Fancy some perfectly grilled yakitori skewers or super tasty soba noodles? You’re in the right place. Once dinner’s done and stomachs are full, perhaps head out to explore Shibuya's tiny backstreets in search of sake or local cocktails.

Day 2 Tokyo

Kick off the day with a walk around the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, where seafood from Tokyo's largest wholesale fish market is delivered and ready to sample daily. Afterwards, learn the art of sushi making first-hand – it's the quintessential Edo-era specialty and possibly Japan's most famous culinary gift to the world. Hear about the history of sushi, how to choose the best fish, learn proper slicing and rice making techniques and sample some seriously fresh sushi. Then, enjoy free time to explore the historic Asakusa area. Stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple, founded almost 1400 years ago. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then Asakusa is the place to get your sugar fix. Try fried sweet potatoes tossed in sugar and soy or sweet red bean paste sandwiched between baked pancake batter (yes, it’s as good as it sounds!). Tonight, why not head to Tsukishima to tuck into one of Tokyo's most traditional dishes, monjayaki (a type of savoury pancake).

Day 3 Takayama

Leave Tokyo in your dust as you take a bullet train to the charming 17th-century Edo town of Takayama, located in the Japanese Alps. The region is famous for its traditional streetscapes, sake breweries and Hida-gyu (Hida wagyu beef), the beef from a black-haired cattle breed that has been raised in Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. On arrival, visit the nearby Hida Folk Village, an outdoor museum where the traditional thatched-roof architecture unique to the area has been put on display. With each house like its own self-contained museum, discover personal items, traditional tools, and learn the techniques used to build farmhouses that could withstand fierce winters. For the next two nights, you’ll stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), where you’ll also get to dine on regional Takayama delicacies. Popular local dishes include mitarashi dango (rice dumplings roasted in soy sauce), houba miso (miso vegetables cooked in magnolia leaf) and chuka soba (Hida's favourite noodle dish).

Day 4 Takayama

The Gifu Prefecture is known for its excellent high-altitude vegetables, which you’ll discover today on an exploration of the morning markets. Dating back 600 years, stalls of seasonal produce are set up by women from local farms early each morning. Look out for the unique local style of pickles, bags of miso wrapped in leaves, genkotsu ame (soybean candy), preserved fish, spices, and the delicious marshmallow treat of owara tamaten. Later, take a short local train ride to the neighbouring Hida-Furukawa, another alpine town known for its relaxed pace and tree-lined canals. Here, visit a local sake brewery where you’ll learn the secrets of this culturally significant alcoholic drink (and sample some yourself, if you fancy). Gifu's alpine climate and crystal-clear mountain waters are perfect for creating Japan's signature liquor. Back in Takayama for dinner, you'll be able to sample some more of the town's iconic dishes.

Day 5 Kanazawa

Take the train towards Japan's northern coastline to the historic city of Kanazawa. Having avoided much of the destruction of World War 2, it's a place where modern and traditional Japan go hand in hand. On arrival, join your leader on an orientation walk before visiting 17th-century Kenroku-en Garden, a highly intricate landscaped acreage of bridges, ponds, waterfalls, fountains and tea houses that are beautiful no matter the season. Perhaps stop for a cup of freshly whisked matcha tea on your stroll through the extensive grounds. If time allows, you might get the chance to visit the Chaya gai district, with its well-preserved streets of old wooden tea houses, and where geisha continue to perform music and dance for small private functions. In the evening, join your leader for an optional dinner to sample local dishes bursting with regional flavour, particularly fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan. The unique blend of warm and cold currents create the perfect conditions for a wide variety of fish and shellfish year round, including the famed Kano crabs and sweet prawns.

Day 6 Osaka

Hungry? Good! This morning you’ll pay a visit to Omicho Market, where the city's quality food producers gather. Seafood from Ishikawa Prefecture is brought in from the port every morning and, as well as sold fresh, there are a number of restaurants in the market which whip it up into rice bowls or sushi – almost 200 stalls to get lost in! Later, hop on an express train to Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city and unofficial culinary capital. There are sprawling shopping hubs and tiny backstreets full of restaurants and bars, serving up local delicacies as well as Japan's answer to fast food. Osaka is credited with the first kaiten-zushi (conveyer belt sushi) restaurants. The city is also renowned for its take on okonomiyaki (fried savoury pancakes), kushikatsu (deep fried meat and vegetables on skewers) and perhaps its most renowned dish, takoyaki (a hot snack of shredded octopus, pickled ginger and spring onion cooked into batter). After checking into the hotel, take a walk through Osaka’s unmissable Dotombori district, sampling some street food as you stroll along its neon-lit canals.

Day 7 Osaka

Visit Osaka’s lively Kuromon food market for a morning walk through the quirky Doguyasuji Arcade, where you can pick up some kitchen gadgets (or plastic food!) and all the Japanese bowls you’d ever need. Later, pop into a depachika – the food basement hall of one of Japan's department stores – which is a treasure trove for food lovers, given the endless range of products beautifully displayed. It’s one of the best ways to understand what locals eat on a daily basis. Today, you’ll also learn about one of Osaka’s signature dishes and try your hand at perfecting takoyaki or noodles. This evening, take a dive into Osaka’s twisting back alleys and experience one of the city’s typical tachinomi bars (drinking while standing), perhaps sharing a few drinks with your travel pals.

Day 8 Koya-san

Rise early, hop on the train and venture into an important region for Shingon Buddhism. Founded in the 8th century by the revered Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi, Koya-san has been a centre for religious activities for over 1200 years. On arrival, visit Okuno-in, the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi. Your unique accommodation tonight is in one of the many temples still operating here. You’ll stay alongside Buddhist monks and follow their routine of evening meditation and morning prayers. Temple lodgings, known as shukubo, have facilities similar to Japanese ryokans. Rooms are equipped with thin futon mattresses that are spread on tatami mats for a comfortable night's sleep. Tonight, enjoy an introduction to shojin ryori, or monastic cuisine, prepared by novice monks. Shojin ryori was popularised in Japan in the 13th century by Zen monks from China. Shojin ryori is plant-based, and prohibits inclusion of meat and fish, following the teaching that it is wrong to kill living animals. Instead, meals are prepared with seasonable vegetables and wild plants from the mountains.

Day 9 Kyoto

Today you’ll make your way by train to Kyoto, a city regarded as the cultural heart of Japan. Before Tokyo, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years. On arrival, get acquainted with this beautiful city on an orientation walk with your leader, taking a stroll through the glass-covered walkway of Nishiki Market. It’s here that you’ll find a range of Kyoto's regional specialities like pickled vegetables hidden beneath layers of fermented rice, ornate Kyo-wagashi (Kyoto sweets), Uji green teas, as well as souvenirs and a renowned hand-crafted knife shop. Later in the afternoon, take a step back in time on a walk through the narrow streets of Kyoto's charming Gion district and learn about the city’s geisha culture. If you’re lucky you might spot geiko (geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) in their elaborate dress and makeup. Join your leader for an optional dinner to sample some of Kyoto's trademark cuisine.

Day 10 Kyoto

Kyoto is a city that takes food seriously. Today, you’ll experience the simple pleasures of obanzai ryori in a cooking class. Perhaps not as well-known as kaiseki, this ancient style of a multi-course Japanese feast has strict rules that must be adhered to. It must be simple and follow a seasonal approach. At least half of the ingredients must be Kyo-yasai (Kyoto heirloom vegetables grown locally), and the meal should embody the spiritual elements of genuine things, such as balance. Obanzai is increasingly gaining popularity in Kyoto as people seek to ensure that this special culinary tradition is preserved. Once you’ve prepared your meal, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labour at lunch. The afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. You could find a theatre putting on shows of Noh, Kabuki or Bunraku puppetry, or a traditional maiko dance. If you’re still hungry, why not try some yudofu hotpot, using Kyoto's smooth tofu perfected over centuries by Buddhist monks. With so many other options, your local leader is there to help you make the right choice.

Day 11 Kyoto

Today you’ll explore the traditions, culture and history behind tea, which plays a critical part in traditional Japanese society. Learn about the long-lived customs surrounding this brew, which is more than simply a drink, and discover the difference between the fine matcha powdered tea served in the tea ceremony and the other varieties of green tea commonly enjoyed in Japan, from everyday houjicha and genmaicha to premium gyokuro. The careful symbolism of Japanese society reaches its peak in the tea ceremony and today you’ll attend a private ceremony with a long-time practitioner of this art in Kyoto. Learn about the importance of the preparation and cleaning of tea utensils, the bow on receiving a cup of freshly whisked tea and the three clockwise turns before a sip is taken. After this experience, take some time to explore this ancient city yourself before rounding off your adventure with a celebratory dinner with your group leader and travel pals.

Day 12 Kyoto

With no activities planned for today, your Japanese food adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning.

Availability

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Price From $ 5,690
Price Per Day: $ 474 per day
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4,186 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

94%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 3,164
Great 667
Average 132
Disappointing 66
Terrible 157
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Japan Real Food Adventure

The locations were lovely and our guide

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The locations were lovely and our guide Akemi Nozawa was excellent. We enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers and tried lots of different food.
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Our guide, Akemi provided thoughtful and efficient

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Our guide, Akemi provided thoughtful and efficient care, all details covered to ensure the smoothest transitions and attention to the individual interests of each member of the group. The group was exceptional. All members of the group participated enthusiastically and enjoyed each others company.
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The variety itinerary combined the hustle and

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The variety itinerary combined the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Osaka with tranquil stays in Koyasan and Nikko. Good number of included activities. Great insight into Japanese food and culture. Excellent tour leader.
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Our tour guide was exceptionally good.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Our tour guide was exceptionally good.

The tour was well organised and our

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The tour was well organised and our guide did an excellent job showing us around.

Excellent choice of destinations, good variations of

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Excellent choice of destinations, good variations of sights and activities, excellent tour leader, good hotels._x000D_
Food sometimes a bit too noticeably on the cheap side for a food themed trip, there I would have expected a bit more of the "good" stuff, especially with super fresh meat and fish all about the country...
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Bus,Train,Bullet train

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 12

Accommodations

Hotel (8 nights),Ryokan (2 nights),Monastery (1 night)

Guides

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel
  • Shijo-sagaru, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku 京都府 京都市下京区烏丸通り四条下ル
  • Kyoto
  • 600-8412
  • JAPAN
  • Phone: +81 753710111

Trip ID#:

intrepid-CJZF

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