Exploring the Rich Culinary Traditions of Japan
Kyoto, Japan. April 5, 2023: With a food culture that is second-to-none, Japan is a place where visitors are invited to indulge in the most incredible and unique culinary experiences every single day, and Kyoto-based tour operator Oku Japan has the perfect foodie-focused itinerary to explore its most iconic culinary destinations.
On its 11-day Japan Culinary Highlights small-group guided tour, Oku guests take a deep dive into the various regions’ food and culture, traveling from bustling cities to quiet mountain villages and fishing ports to discover traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, take part in cooking classes, learn special preparation techniques, while also discovering more about the history of each area and the people who call it home.
The adventure starts in Tokyo where the group heads out into the city’s lively streets for a robatayaki dinner before catching the train for Kanazawa on the coast. As the seat of the powerful Maeda Clan during the Edo period, Kanazawa has a very refined and sophisticated culinary tradition and is home to Oomi Ichiba, a local food market that has been operating for almost 300 years.
Next it is on to Gokayama, a mountainous region known for its distinctive gassho-zukuri farmhouses. The tradition of foraging for sansai (wild plants) is still practiced here and Oku guests will join a local plant hunter to explore the landscape and harvest (and then prepare) various seasonal wild delicacies.
The itinerary then travels to Takayama, nestled in the mountainous Hida region, which boasts a beautifully preserved old town and unique culture. In the evening, there will be a multi-course kaiseki dinner – the ultimate style of Japanese food, noted for its preparation methods and final presentation.
After this it is on to Osaka, historically known as the Tenka no daidokoro or “nation’s kitchen,” famous not just for its Michelin-starred restaurants but also its street food – takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and more. While here, guests will visit nearby Sakai-City, once known for its Samurai swords but now revered for its kitchen knives, with an opportunity to visit and meet with craftsmen at Baba Cutlery Works and watch as they fold the steel and sharpen the edges.
On day 8, it is off to Awaji Island, long known as a Miketsukuni, a place of food production for emperors. The tour will visit a fish auction and then head to the coast for a special “foodscape” beach lunch experience with a local chef.
The tour ends with a few days in the imperial capital of Kyoto, traveling there via Uji, an area famous internationally for its green tea. In Kyoto, a place renowned throughout Japan for its regional Washoku cuisine (a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage practice), guests will have a chance to participate in a traditional tea ceremony and visit the colorful Nishiki Market, a bustling covered shopping area that has a well-deserved reputation as “Kyoto’s Kitchen.”