Japan’s Culinary Heritage

enquire now 11 Days From NZD $7,880 pp twinshare
Small group
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A small-group guided food tour through Japan’s best-kept culinary traditions


  • Visit Kanazawa’s local food market which has attracted residents and visitors for almost 300 years
  • Hunt for wild vegetables (Sansai) with a Sansai expert and learn traditional cooking methods with the Gokayama community
  • Learn the art of earth-oven cooking in Hida-Furukawa and make Miso Senbei in a traditional shop
  • Get hands on with history during a visit to Sakai-City, famous for high-quality Japanese kitchen knives
  • Visit Awaji island to learn about its seafood culture and enjoy a beach lunch with a local food-designer chef
  • Learn more about tea culture in Uji and experience making tofu in Kyoto

This culinary journey visits famous locations like the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto, 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.  Foraging for wild ingredients, harvesting the bounty of the land, cooking with emblematic figures and alongside members of local communities, this culinary adventure will show you how food is one of the most intimate ways to uncover Japan’s history and culture.

Japan is blessed with rich natural products from the ‘Satoyama’ landscape, the border area between flat arable land where rice is grown, and the mountains. Managed sustainably over centuries, Satoyama is biologically diverse and supports a wide variety of wildlife throughout four seasons, offering a great variety of dishes and regional specialties. Japanese cuisine’s unique qualities are the product of a long tradition of respect for the harvest of ingredients, and for nature itself.

Food culture in Japan is also closely related to festivals and rituals, and reflects the way of life in each particular region. Travelling from mountain villages to fishing ports, staying in rural thatched-roof houses and in the dazzling cities, you will taste the sake, experience the food and the culture, awaken your senses and share unforgettable moments with people you’ll meet on your journey.

Our adventure starts in Tokyo and takes us to the local food market in Kanazawa, then hunting wild plants in Gokayama. Next we travel to Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site, and Takayama, where a local community will hosts us in an old Kominka house. Here we learn about Okudo-san (earth oven) cooking and Furukawa’s specialty “Miso Senbei” crackers. In Sakai-City in Osaka, an area made famous by its steelwork, we learn about the art of Japanese knives and the forges that make them.  We visit a fishing port on Awaji Island before heading to Uji where we learn more about Japan’s unique tea culture and the origin of “sencha” tea. Our tour ends in Kyoto where we experience making tofu and participate in a traditional tea ceremony before saying our goodbyes at the farewell dinner.

Exclusive behind-the-scene experiences:

Nakanishi-san (sake brewer) – Community-hosted lunch in Gokayama

Toga-mura is a small-scale local community in the hidden valley of Gokayama. Ueda-san is a Sansai (wild vegetable) specialist and Nakanishi-san cultivates rice to brew Doburoku sake. They will take us foraging for seasonal produce and we’ll call at villagers’ houses on the way, tasting some home-preserved Sansai. The villagers will collaborate to produce a community-hosted lunch for us.

Chef Shinse – Foodscape beach lunch on Awaji Island 

Rendez-vous on the coast for the ultimate beach lunch experience…your chef today is a real artist and will prepare for you his signature “Foodscape”. Using locally harvested ingredients, he applies his inspiration to create an edible landscape that will delight all your senses.

Baba Cutlery Works – Craftsmanship inherited from father to son

Sakai-City in Osaka is the home of Japanese knives with a history of 600 years. Founded in 1916, Baba Cutlery Works has been inherited from father to son with a commitment to create the best quality kitchen knives, and pass this knowledge on to the next generation. We will visit Sakai-City to observe how collaboration between highly-skilled professionals creates steel with an unparalleled sharpness.


Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

Day 2: Travel to Kanazawa

Day 3: Foraging experience in Gokayama

Day 4: Shirakawa-go and Takayama

Day 5: Classic earth oven cooking experience in Hida Furukawa

Day 6: Travel from Takayama to Osaka

Day 7: In Osaka, sharpen your knowledge about Japanese cutlery

Day 8: Foodscape experience on Awaji Island

Day 9: Travel to Kyoto, Uji-Tawara tea

Day 10: Kyoto tofu-making and Nishiki Market

Day 11: Tour ends in Kyoto

What’s Included

  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide
  • 10 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan and Minshuku)
  • Daily breakfast & 6 dinners, 4 Lunches
  • All transportation between tour locations
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group’s itinerary
  • Forwarding of one item of luggage
  • All cooking experiences and workshops

What’s Not Included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for 4 lunches
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels



Images courtesy of Oku Japan