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A Gourmet Tour through two of Japan's most important cities with exclusive, cooking classes, market and street food tours and a traditional tea ceremony

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What's Included

  • Completely private tours of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Sushi, soba noodle making and Japanese cooking classes
  • Traditional tea ceremony
  • Sake brewery visit
  • Food market and street food tour
  • Bullet Train journey
  • Meet and greet airport service
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

Exotic flavours, finely balanced textures and exquisite presentation. Japanese cuisine is an experience to be savoured. We’ll take you on a Luxury Gourmet Tour with stays in two of Japan’s main cities to discover the epicurean delights of the east.

You’ll begin in Tokyo where over three days, you’ll learn how to choose the freshest catches at a busy fish market before trying your hand at chef-led sushi and soba noodle making classes and taking part in a traditional tea ceremony.

It’s then on to Kyoto by Bullet Train for three days to explore Japan’s well-preserved imperial city. Here we’ll visit the famous Fushimi sake breweries and enjoy a private “Japanese home food” class, a traditional “Shojin” meal typically eaten by Zen Buddhist monks and a visit to the vibrant Nishiki market.

Before returning home, there’s just time for a quick stop in beautiful Osaka, the “Kitchen of Japan” to taste its celebrated street food.

You’ll explore ornate shrines and sites of cultural importance all along the way and stay in luxury accommodation throughout, with our recommendations for the best to see in do in each location.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-4

Tokyo

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Meet and greet at Tokyo airport

Accommodation in Tokyo

Three days in Tokyo Three days in Tokyo

Tokyo is a city with an infectious energy that is like no other. Enjoy your time exploring this incredible metropolis visiting the city's fascinating food markets and enjoying the freshest of sushi, discovering ornate shrines, ancient temples and touring small craft breweries.

Exclusive sushi excursion with chef-led market tour and private sushi making class Exclusive sushi excursion with chef-led market tour and private sushi making class

This morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel and bring you to the famed Tsukiji fish market. Tsukiji is one of the largest fish markets in the world and it imports fish and seafood from 60 countries on six continents, including 85% of tuna consumed in Japan. It's a very popular destination for visitors with culinary flare. Upon arrival, you will be met by a well-known Japanese sushi chef who will take you directly into the wholesale area, the centre of action, where fish is cut and sold to Tokyo’s restaurant chefs. Stroll around with the sushi chef who will point out and explain the different fish and seafood that's on offer. The chef will help you to choose the freshest seafood for your up-coming sushi lesson. We then move to the outer-market which is often overlooked by visitors but a real treasure trove for adventurous gourmets. This large section of the market occupies several blocks around Tsukiji and is an ideal place to stock-up on Japanese ingredients, offering everything from kelp and seaweed to dried bonito, vegetables, tea, and herbs and spices.

After our market tour, we then move onto one of Japan's finest restaurants for an exclusive sushi making lesson lead by our private chef who will teach us how to make nigiri sushi, temari and seaweed wrapped maki sushi, as well as miso soup. We'll enjoy the fruits of our labours for lunch in the restaurant which we have closed to the public for this special occasion.

Craft brewery tour Craft brewery tour

You will visit one of the newly opened craft-beer bars offering 10 to 15 different varieties of beer, all crafted by small operating breweries using the highest quality malts, hops and yeasts and traditional techniques.

Morning culinary and cultural tour of Tokyo with soba noodle making class Morning culinary and cultural tour of Tokyo with soba noodle making class

This morning we start our sightseeing tour in Asakusa, one of Tokyo oldest and well preserved districts. We begin with a walk along the Nakamise Dori merchant street which dates back to the Edo period when the temple’s neighbours were given special permission to open their shops in the approach to the temple. Although a touristy spot, you'll find it really interesting to see the variety of typical snacks and sweets on offer at the different stalls. Next we explore Sensoji Temple on a guided tour. We then move on to the nearby district of Kappabashi which is renowned for selling everything and anything that Japanese chefs may need to set up shop, from wax food window displays to lacquer ware, ceramics, cooking pots, utensils and excellent Japanese knives.

We then partake in a private soba noodle making class. Made of buckwheat flour, soba noodles have a very distinct taste. Enjoy your own creations for lunch.

Afternoon excursion with Imperial Palace Garden walk, Nihobashi tea ceremony and Ginza food court tour Afternoon excursion with Imperial Palace Garden walk, Nihobashi tea ceremony and Ginza food court tour

After lunch we will enjoy a peaceful walk in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, a verdant oasis covering 115 hectares and home to one of the most beautiful gardens in Tokyo. After entering from the Otemon Gate, which once served as the main gate to Edo Castle, we visit the Sannomaru grounds and Ninomaru Garden with its coy pond and waterfall. We then travel to the Nihonbashi district for an exclusive and intimate traditional tea ceremony at a Japanese Fine Arts school. You'll then be returned to your hotel to spend the evening at your leisure.

Afterwards if time permits, we carry on to the Ginza district for a tour of the Food Courts, called "depa-chika", in the basement floors of famous high-end department stores where Tokyoites buy their delicacies. Here, we'll discover delicacies that are unique to Japan as well as famous sweets and
snacks from international gourmet brands.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Tokyo station

Transfer

Shinkansen "Bullet Train" from Tokyo to Kyoto

Days 4-7

Kyoto

Accommodation in Kyoto

Fushimiinari shrine and sake brewery visit Fushimiinari shrine and sake brewery visit

Upon arrival into Kyoto station, you'll be met by your English speaking guide and and brought in a private vehicle to the Fushimiinari Shrine which was founded in the 9th century in honour of a fox that farmers believed was the messenger of the harvest god. The tunnel-like path of hundreds of bright-red torii gates is stunning and was made famous in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha". Depending on your fitness level and interest, you can choose to just visit the base or to walk under the red gates to the top of the hill.

Fushimi is also famous for its sake breweries. It is one of the oldest sake producing areas in Japan and enjoyed the patronage of the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century. Learn the process of polishing rice, adding enzymes and yeast and the maturation process that is involved in sake production. You'll also have the opportunity to sample different kinds of sake. After the tour you will be brought to your hotel to check in and enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Three days in Kyoto Three days in Kyoto

Spend your time in Kyoto admiring the impressive imperial beauty of the city, evident in the abundance of prewar buildings such as grand palaces, traditional "machiya" townhouses and ornate shrines. Savour the tastes of the city with special cooking classes, traditional dinners and street market tours. See kimono-clad geisha on their way to engagements and stroll in the celebrated Ryoan-Ji rock garden. Make sure you visit the magnificent wooden Kiyomizu-Dera and the Golden and Silver Pavilion Temples. Your travel designer can help you to experience the city at its best with private guided tours and excursions.

Half day Kyoto excursion including temple visit and cooking class Half day Kyoto excursion including temple visit and cooking class

Today, meet your private English speaking guide in your hotel and travel to Kinkaku-Ji Golden Pavilion temple. Built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, it gets its name from its fine covering of gold leaf.

We then continue to the serene Ryoan-Ji temple with its celebrated rock garden composed of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and 15 rocks.

Next, we'll enjoy a private class in “Japanese home food” taking place in a traditional house that's been converted into a simple and intimate cooking school. We'll learn how to use Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce and other condiments to bring out a “umami flavour” and then enjoy them. We've selected popular Japanese recipes that can easily be replicated at home.

Gion geisha district tour Gion geisha district tour

Today we visit the Geisha district of Gion which is famed for its beautifully preserved traditional architecture. During Gion's golden age in the first half of 19th century, more than 3000 Geikos (young Geisha) worked in some 700 teahouses. We will keep our eyes open for Geisha on their way to an assignment. This is also a great opportunity for shopping in this craft-rich district.

Excursion to Arashiyama to see Tenryu-Ji Temple and Bamboo Grove Excursion to Arashiyama to see Tenryu-Ji Temple and Bamboo Grove

You will meet your English speaking guide and your driver for a visit to the beautiful district of Arashiyama, located just outside of Kyoto and surrounded by nature for a welcome break from the city’s hustle. We start at the Tenryu-Ji Temple, a famous Zen Buddhist temple which is the head temple of the Tenryu-Ji branch of Rinzai Zen sect and part of World Cultural Heritage monuments. From here, we'll take a relaxing stroll around the Bamboo Forests, designated as one of the three most beautiful bamboo forests in Japan. Arrive at Okochi Sanso, a splendid mountain retreat, previously occupied by Okochi Denjiro, a silent screen actor. We'll take a leisurely walk through the villa's beautiful gardens and savour the fine views of Kyoto city in the distance. For lunch, we're in for a treat with a unique Japanese meal of Shojin Ryori. Developed by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks who choose not to eat living animals, Shojin meals are based exclusively on vegetables, beans and roots. Particular care is taken in presentation, texture and bringing out the flavour of each ingredient.

Half day excursion to Adashino Mebutsji and Otagi Nenbutsuji temples and Nishiji market visit Half day excursion to Adashino Mebutsji and Otagi Nenbutsuji temples and Nishiji market visit

We'll make our way to the Adashino Nembutsuji temple to see its 8,000 stone Buddha and beautiful pagodas. Adashino means fragile, expressing the fragility of human lives, and the area was originally a cremation ground with stone grave markers dating from the Heian period.

A few minutes’ walk from here is the unique and quiet Otagi-Nenbutsuji temple, a Tendai-Shu sect Buddhist temple. Here you'll find 1200 stone Rakan figures, carved by worshipers from 1981 to 1991 to pray for the prosperity of the temple. These carvings are very different from other Buddhist figures, and have been sculpted with much humour.

Finally, we return to Kyoto and visit the Nishiki market, a narrow shopping arcade only 400 meters in length with over 100 vendors. This is an excellent opportunity to discover Kyoto’s distinctive culinary delicacies and stock up on the ingredients that you will have encountered during your culinary journey of Japan.

Full day Osaka tour with visit to Shinsaibashi Full day Osaka tour with visit to Shinsaibashi

This morning, you will check out of your hotel in Kyoto and be met by your English speaking guide and driver who will transfer you in a shared vehicle to Osaka, affectionately known as the “Kitchen of Japan”. Our first stop is the ancient Osaka castle. We'll walk through the charming castle grounds up to the castle itself which was constructed in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple and was the largest castle at that time. Destroyed by fire several times, it has been rebuilt in its original form. We then move on to the Shinsaibashi, the city's main shopping area. Shinsaibashi is renowned for its street food. Try favourites such as takoyaki - balls of wheat flour batter filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion; kushikatsu – deep-fried and battered meat or vegetable skewers; and okonomiyaki - savoury pancakes.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport

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