Master chefs, local kitchens, and wild ingredients will scratch the surface of remarkable cuisine during your 10-day culinary tour of Japan. The secrets of Japanese cuisine will emerge as you travel between marketplaces and sake breweries to discover the origins of heritage and preserved tradition. You will sample celebrated dishes and participate in intricate tea ceremonies. From Tokyo to Osaka, you will uncover Japan as a dynamic global gastronomic destination.
Tokyo – Arrival and Quintessential Izakaya
An izakaya is an everyday place to drink and dine in a Japanese city, and they are not fancy nor fine. So why eat here when your vacation could start with one of Tokyo’s Michelin restaurants? Dining at an izakaya will provide context for everything else you will experience on this tour as you taste a full variety of quintessential flavors and get to know the basics of local gastronomy. In addition, the meal will be relaxed, fun and informal, which is usually the best way to go when you are likely tired from your flight. A guide greets you at the airport and transfers you to a modern city hotel. Head out for dinner at the izakaya, a great place to start discussing cuisine and testing out the flavors.
Kanazawa – Market Sushi and Kaga-ryori in the Old Edo Town
Gokayama – Harvesting Wild Mountain Vegetables and Home-Cooked Dining
Takayama – Delicate Kaiseki and the Food of the Mountains
Hida-Furukawa – Premium Hida Beef From a Okudo-san Earth Oven: More Sake
Kyoto – Exceptional Kaiseki Cuisine in a Private Residence
Kyoto – Japanese Tea Ceremony and Treats From Nishiki Market
Asuka to Osaka – Community Cooking and True Farm to Table Ideology
Awaji Island – A Fish Auction Followed by Seafood on the Beach
Osaka – Departure
- Experience true Japanese kaiseki, with multi-course dinners in Kyoto and Takayama that are unique to their surroundings
- Witness a fish auction on Awaji Island and find where the Japanese go for the finest sushi
- Lunch on premium Hida beef in Furukawa cooked as it should be in an Okudo-san earth oven
- Harvest wild vegetables in Gokayama and dine on the finest home-cooked mountain cuisine
- Head out into the rice paddies of Asuka and learn about the region’s farm to table ideology
- Explore historical food markets with a guide who knows where to find the best treats
- Experience the extravagance of a Japanese tea ceremony at a small wooden Kyoto teahouse
- Learn about Izakaya, an excellent introduction to Japanese flavors
- Uncover many of Japan’s premier highlights along the way, including Kyoto’s temples and gardens, the mountain village of Shirakawa-go, and the old towns of Kanazawa and Takayama
It is true that Japan’s culinary heritage can be found in fine-dining restaurants, whether in Tokyo, New York or elsewhere. It is also true to say that Japan’s culinary heritage has taken on a global perspective as seen by the plethora of sushi establishments that dot the world. One must travel into the heart of Japan to truly uncover the country’s culinary heritage in towns and villages unchanged for centuries in places where farm-to-table takes on new meanings. This heritage is one that has escaped the monotony of an exported Japanese product as it is a culinary heritage that you will discover to be unique to time and place.
Over these ten days, you will go in search of Japan’s finest food with a specific focus on gastronomic traditions and regional flavors. This is not a tour of the best sushi restaurants, and in fact, there are not many restaurants at all. Mostly, you will dine in private venues or in the marketplaces where the country’s food is most vividly celebrated. Along the way, you will get to discover many of the country’s finest attractions. Begin with mountains around Takayama, where villages with strange thatched roofs are hidden, and then take in temples and gardens and shrines all across Kyoto, contemporary city sights in Osaka and also in Tokyo. Add the old-world towns of Kanazawa and Takayama, where Samurai and Geisha still have a firm place in culture, and you will experience the full gamut.
Touch down in Tokyo and spend just one night in a typical Izakaya eating house, a social gathering place for classic, everyday cuisine. Take the Shinkansen to Kanazawa and search the old town market for sushi, before discovering kaga-ryori amid an old Edo setting. On day three, you will head deeper into the mountains and forage for wild vegetables that are cooked up by locals in Gokayama. Explore Shirakawa-go’s unique architecture the next day before your first kaiseki experience enjoyed in a family-run Takayama ryokan. Staying around the mountains, you will sample authentic Hida beef in Furukawa, prepared the way it always has been, in an Okudo-san earth oven.
Kyoto now awaits, and you will settle into Japan’s most celebrated city and visit a handful of the temples and shrines, as there are over 2,000 in immediate area. Kyoto kaiseki is unique to its surroundings and an essential part of any visit to the city. Over-exaggerated pouring is part of the tea ceremony experience the next day, followed by the colorful treats of Nishiki Market. With two days in Kyoto, you can travel out to the suburbs as well to find Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and the temple it hides. The next day is all about community cooking, amid the rice paddies of Asuka. Wake the next morning to watch a fish auction on Awaji Island, followed by the best seafood on the beach. From here, it will be a quick transfer back to Osaka and your departure flight. Interested in learning more by seeing some of our travelers’ Japan vacation tour reviews? Click here for more.
$3,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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