General

This 11 day small group tour covers Japan’s regional cuisine, the heart and soul of Japanese culture.

Visit renowned locations as well as hidden rural villages and the unique culture of Awaji Island in the fabled Inland Sea, where culinary traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. Other highlights include taking to the bustling streets in Tokyo for an Izakaya, quintessential Japanese destinations for casual eating and drinking; tasting the local specialty Kaga-ryori in Kanazawa which uses the freshest local seafood and vegetables; a foraging experience in Gokayama; a multi-course kaiseki dinner in Takayama plus much more.

 

Destination Japan
Cities & Locations Aaji Island, Tokyo, Kanazawa, Gokayama, and Takayama
Duration 11 days / 10 nights

Tour Schedule

Departs: On Selected Dates

Departure Dates:
2020: 08 May & 25 September

NOTE: We regret we do not accept children under 15 years old on this tour.

Itinerary


Day 1: Tokyo

This evening, meet at the tour hotel in central Tokyo. Head out into the city’s exciting streets – your guide will advise you on the best options for food and drink. You might want to try an Izakaya restaurant. Izakaya are the quintessential Japanese destinations for casual eating and drinking – the two go hand in hand in Japan and these bars cluster around railway and subway stations. Join a post-work crowd relaxing over some of their favourite small dishes and their favourite beers, sake and shochu.

Day 2: Tokyo - Kanazawa (B, D)

Today, catch the train for Kanazawa on the Japan Sea coast. Seat of the powerful Maeda Clan during the Edo Period, Kanazawa had a grand castle and was a city of great cultural accomplishments, including a refined and sophisticated local cuisine. For lunch, visit the local food market Oomi Ichiba, “Kanazawa citizens’ kitchen pantry”. The market has attracted residents and visitors for centuries. In the evening, taste the local specialty Kaga-ryori for dinner. Kaga-ryori uses the freshest local seafood and vegetables served on colourful Kutani porcelain, or on lacquerware made in Ishikawa Prefecture. Notable Kaga-ryori dishes include Kabura-zushi (salted yellowtail sandwiched between turnips), Jibu-ni (stewed duck with vegetables) and Taino-karamushi (steamed sea bream with vegetables).

Day 3: Kanazawa - Gokayama (B, L, D)

Travel by private motorcoach from Kanazawa to Gokayama, a World Heritage Site with distinctive Gassho-zukuri farmhouses sporting triangular thatched roofs which are unique to this part of Japan. Located in a mountainous region isolated from the rest of the country for centuries, villagers still follow traditional lifestyles, gathering and preserving Sansai (wild plants) and growing their own vegetables and mushrooms. Join local plant hunter, Ms.Ueda, to explore the surrounding mountains and harvest seasonal wild delicacies. Visit the home of local resident Mr.Nakanishi, who grows a special variety of rice for brewing sake. Tasting home-brewed sake, called Doburoku, is an unparalleled experience and to complement the sake, villagers will show us how to cook our finds from the mountains to produce delicious local dishes.

Day 4: Gokayama - Shirakawago - Takayama (B, D)

After a traditional Japanese breakfaste depart by highway bus to visit nearby Shirakawago which has its own impressive collection of Gassho-zukuri houses and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. After lunch (own expense) in Shirakawago, continue onwards to Takayama nestled in the mountainous Hida region. Takayama boasts a beautifully preserved old town and a unique culture. It has retained much traditional architecture and is known for its crafts, particularly yew carving, Shunkei lacquerware, pottery and furniture. This evening, sit down to a multi-course Kaiseki dinner at a family-run ryokan. Kaiseki cuisine is the ultimate style of Japanese food, and both the preparation methods and appearance are refined. Imbuing dishes with a seasonal feel and bringing out the natural flavours of the ingredients are key elements. Each individual dish is a small portion, but colours, combinations and presentation of ingredients, together with tableware, all express the aesthetics of Japanese culture.

Day 5: Takayama (B, L)

Today, take a short train ride to Hida Furukawa, a beautifully-preserved old town with distinctive whitewalled storehouses retaining the atmosphere of the Edo Period. Entering one of the oldest Machiya traditional residences, a local grandmother will show the technique of cooking in a classic earth oven known as an “Okudo-san” which is rarely used in modern times. Also use traditional fireplace to grill delicious premium quality Hida Beef. After lunch, there is time to expore the town and taste sake at the local brewery, which produces the finest sake in the region. There will be free time to stroll the town of Takayama and chance to dine out at one of the local restaurants.

Day 6: Takayama - Osaka (B, D)

Board a train in Takayama with Ekiben lunch box for Osaka. Osaka was historically known as “the Tenka no daidokoro” (the nation’s kitchen), famous not just for its Michelin starred restaurants, but particularly for its street food – takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and more – the food of the common man. For dinner, visit a hidden house in the downtown of Namba, owned by a unique sake specialty shop. The shop owner has fallen in love with sake and is dedicated to fulfilling the intentions of sake brewers for over 30 years, and has been interacting with sake aficionados with the same level of enthusiasm with over 10,000 bottles of sake collections, all of which are from local specialty brewers. The term “Sakana” traditionally refer to food served to accompany sake as originated from the word saka (sake) and na (food). Special delicacies which pair well with selected sake are served for today’s dinner.

Day 7: Osaka (B, L)

This morning, travel by local train to Asuka, Japan’s first permanent capital. Sitting at the southern edge of the Yamato Plain, Asuka is home to some of the first Buddhist temples in Japan, built by Prince Shotoku in the 6th century. The small town is also dotted with burial mounds, said to be those of the first emperors. As well as its historical legacy, Asuka also has a beautiful landscape of terraced rice fields. Visit a small-scale producing organic farmer who left city life 10 years ago and moved to the village. Enjoy the opportunity to harvest vegetables and learn home cooking in a charming old Japanese house nearby, offering a true farm-to-table experience of preparing local dishes using vegetables grown in the area. The fruits of your labour will be your lunch today. In the afternoon return to Osaka with the evening spent at leisure.

Day 8: Osaka - Awaji Island (B, L, D)

Awaji is known as the birthplace of the Japanese archipelago, when the gods Izanagi and Izanami first created an island here. Awaji has long been known as a Miketsukuni (a place of food production for emperors). Visit a fish auction at a port and a local producer of the classic Japanese semi-dried fish call Shirasu Boshi. Rendez-vous on the coast for the ultimate beach lunch experience. If the weather is unkind, eat your delicious meal at a former primary school, now renovated as a lovely artistic cafe. The chef today is a real artist and prepares what he calls a “Foodscape” (a food landscape). Using locally harvested ingredients, he uses his inspiration to create a natural landscape that will delight all your senses. This evening, browse the lively port’s backstreets and enjoy the drinking culture of Awaji Island with fresh local seafood.

Day 9: Awaji Island - Kyoto (B)

Travel back from Awaji island in the afternoon by train and head to the colourful Nishiki market, which has a well-deserved reputation for being Kyoto’s kitchen to see the fish, crab, pickles, tea, sweets and other foodstuffs on display. You will also discover the back lanes and traditions of Gion – a district famous for its Geisha (known as Geiko in Kyoto) and the brightly attired apprentice Geisha, known locally as Maiko. Dinner is at your leisure today on Gion-Shijo street.

Day 10: Kyoto (B, D)

Kyoto is renowned throughout Japan for its regional Washoku cuisine and specialities, also for the refinement and artistic presentation of Kaiseki cuisine. Follow your guide to some of Kyoto’s historical treasures. Starting from Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid 13th century, stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the clear waters of a small canal. In the evening, there is a farewell dinner. You will enjoy a Kaiseki banquet in a private property not typically open to the public. The wonderful Japanese villa was built by Takeda Goichi and its garden was designed by historically notable gardener Ogawa Jihei. Your expert chef for the evening has 30 years of experience in Kyo Ryori and will cook the finest ingredients for you, explaining the intricacies of Kaiseki Ryori cuisine, the pinnacle of Japan’s culinary traditions.

Day 11: Kyoto (B)

Upon check out of the hotel, tour arrangements end.

Includes

10 nights accommodation in hotels and Japanese-style inns (ryokan and minshuku).
Breakfast daily, 4x lunches, 6x dinners.
The services of an English-speaking guide, all transportation between tour locations including forwarding of one item of luggage, entrance to museums, temples and other sights as per the tour itinerary
Excludes: Meals not mentioned above, beverages, arrival and departure airport transfers, international flights, travel insurance, departure taxes, pre or post accommodation in Japan, gratuities and any other personal expenses.

Terms & Conditions

Itinerary and price subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control. Please refer to our full terms and conditions available on our brochure or from our website. Active Asia reserves the right to alter the hotels and/or the itinerary if needed due to availability and/or adverse weather conditions.

Kanazawa

KanazawaSurrounded by the Japan Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula Natural Park, Kanazawa offers a natural background of great beauty. Providing a tranquil contrast to the bustling cities, any journey to this area is a feast for the eyes. Spared during the World War II bombings, Kanazawa is known for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, Read more

Japan

JapanJapan is like no other country on earth with a truly unique culture, which many perceive as the exotic unknown. Even though Japan does have a distinct code of social etiquette it’s people are generous, welcoming, charming and warm, making any holiday here something to be remembered. A country made up of four main islands, Read more

Tokyo

TokyoAn amazing city to visit, Tokyo will not disappoint. As the world’s largest populous city, Tokyo offers an unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining. The well spread metropolis is smoothly connected by the operation of an intensive on-time rail network. A city with multiple personalities, the famed neighborhoods of Ginza, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Read more