Top 10 Culinary Tours
Tokyo boasts nine restaurants each bearing three Michelin stars apiece, but Intrepid Travel’s Food Lover’s Japan (www.intrepidtravel.com/trips/jkt) trip doesn’t visit any of those.
Rather, participants – usually about 10 in a group – rise early to visit the frenetic Tsukiji Fish Market and learn to make soba noodles by hand. During the 14-day culinary tour, participants frequently stay at small hotels and ryokans, family-run inns with tatami mats for beds and traditional multi-course meals.
Indeed, this hands-on, immersive style of traveling is what Intrepid is known for. In Hiroshima, for example, the group will dine on the local delicacy okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and slurp smoked oysters on the nearby island of Miyajima, as well as meet with a survivor of the World War II atomic bombing, always a moving highlight according to trip leader Annamarie Ruelle. In the mystical mountaintop town of Koya-san, travelers will not only bed down at a monastery and consume exceptional shojin-ryori (strictly vegetarian) food, but also meditate alongside Shingon Buddhist monks each morning.
Another stop on the journey, which goes from Tokyo to Kyoto, is the exquisitely preserved town of Takayama, high in the “Japanese Alps” in the northern Gifu prefecture, where the group will visit a 600-year-old market, tour sake breweries, and indulge in local specialties like Hidu beef. Participants will also have the chance to test their mettle by trying fugu (pufferfish, which is lethally poisonous if prepared incorrectly) in Osaka or summoning the courage to sing karaoke in Kyoto.
Various dates in April, September, and October; the 14-day trip starts at $3,555 a person, all inclusive with the exception of some meals.
For more trip-planning information, see our Japan Travel Guide.