- Take a gastronomic journey through Osaka's bustling Kuromon Market
- Learn the ancient art and traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto
- Try your hand at making ramen from scratch in a ramen factory workshop
- See incredible views of Mount Fuji while sipping sake made from its snowmelt
|Arrive in Osaka, Guided Tour of Dotonbori District
|Museum of Housing & Living, Osaka Castle, Gastronomy of Kuromon Market
|Visit Himeji Castle, Kobe Beef & Sake Tasting
|Train to Kyoto, Tea Ceremony & Private Maiko Dinner Show
|Kyoto Historic Sites, Sake Museum Tour & Tasting
|Ramen Factory Noodle Workshop, Train to Tokyo
|Guided Tokyo City Tour & Sumo Hot Pot Dinner
|Tsukiji Outer Market & Sushi-Making Lesson
|Explore the Realm of Mount Fuji, Fuji Gotemba Distillery Tasting
|Fly To Sapporo, Self-Guided Tour of Michelin Star Restaurants
|Historic City Tour, Beer Tasting & Barbecue
|Salmon Hot Pot Lesson with a Local Family, Transfer to Hakodate
|Hakodate Morning Market, Seafood Breakfast & City Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Osaka, Guided Tour of Dotonbori District
Welcome to Japan! Your flight lands in Osaka, the country's third-largest city and a top destination for foodies around the globe. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted at the airport and transferred via shuttle to your hotel, where you can check in and relax. Once you have some time to regroup, begin your culinary adventures with a guided tour of Osaka's renowned Dotonbori District.
Savor dishes like conveyor belt sushi, grilled crabs, takoyaki (balls filled with vegetables and seafood), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries) from various diners and restaurants as your guide shares insight into the history behind each dish. Amid the bright neon lights and massive advertisements, you'll experience the vibrant atmosphere of Japan's "kitchen." After feasting, head to Tazaemonbashi Bridge boat dock for a 20-minute Tombori River cruise, where you'll learn about the surrounding historic landmarks from your knowledgeable guide while admiring the city's illuminated skyline.
Day 2: Museum of Housing & Living, Osaka Castle, Gastronomy of Kuromon Market
Rise and shine for a full-day city tour today, meeting with your guide and starting with a visit to the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which is dedicated to the history of the city's urban growth and housing. See re-creations of the city's buildings and streets during different time periods, including a replica of an Edo period townscape, then head to the iconic Osaka Castle. Here, you'll find a wealth of information on Japan's rich history, including dioramas that depict various battles, uniforms, and helmets, as well as a large observation deck that offers excellent city views.
By now you've hopefully worked up an appetite because it's time to take a gastronomic journey through the bustling Kuromon Market, a covered market that serves a wide variety of Japanese street food in a relaxed, informal space. Try fresh oysters, unagi (barbecued eel), or the delectable tako tamago (octopus with quail egg). Your guide will take you to the top-rated food stalls, and you'll end the day full and satisfied.
Day 3: Visit Himeji Castle, Kobe Beef & Sake Tasting
See more of Osaka's countryside today as you meet with your guides and make the two-hour drive to the UNESCO-listed Himeji Castle, a stunning example of Japanese castle architecture with a network of 83 buildings and advanced defensive systems. You'll have time to explore the castle and grounds, then it's off to Kobe, home to the savory marbled beef of the same name.
Visit a local restaurant and enjoy a meal of this delicious meat alongside other delicacies, then if you'd like, your guide will take you to the Sake Brewery Museum for a tasting of different types of sake. The tour ends with a cable car ride up Mount Nunobiki, which takes you to the Nunobiki Herb Garden, a botanical garden and Japan's largest herb garden, with themed areas, a restaurant, and a gift shop. At the end of your day trip, you'll transfer back to Osaka for the afternoon.
Day 4: Train to Kyoto, Tea Ceremony & Private Maiko Dinner Show
Your next destination is the city of Kyoto, known for cultural traditions such as kaiseki dining, geisha entertainers, and its numerous temples, gardens, and palaces. After hotel checkout, you'll transfer to Osaka station for the 20-minute train ride. Once you've arrived and checked in at your accommodations, head out on a tour of Kyoto's captivating Gion District, admiring the traditional wooden houses and possibly spotting geishas (female Japanese performing artists) along Hanami-koji Street.
Then, experience a tea ceremony, a highly ritualized tradition that was born and curated in Kyoto. You'll visit a local tea house where, after your hosts explain the ceremony and what to expect, you'll enjoy a formal introduction to the history of the ceremonies while sipping fragrant and flavorful tea. The evening concludes with an exclusive maiko dinner show, where you'll savor a kaiseki (multicourse Japanese dinner) meal in a private tatami room, enjoy an elegant dance performance, and participate in geisha and maiko games with ample photo opportunities.
Day 5: Kyoto Historic Sites, Sake Museum Tour & Tasting
Start the day with an exploration of some of Kyoto's top UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visit Kinkaku-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Then, head to the impressive Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the residence of Edo-era shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the captivating shrine of Fushimi Inari-Taisha, adorned with thousands of torii gates.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Ramen Factory Noodle Workshop, Train to Tokyo
Learn the art of creating perfect Japanese-style noodles from scratch with a visit to a local ramen factory. Alongside your experienced instructors, you'll make noodles and create your own savory broth to go with them, adding your choice of meat and vegetable toppings. End with a delicious ramen noodle lunch of your own creation! After your ramen workshop, you'll transfer to Kyoto station for the 2.5-hour Shinkansen train ride to Tokyo, Japan's capital. Here, you'll find the perfect blend of modern and traditional, with neon-lit skyscrapers and dense traffic alongside historic temples and lush gardens.
Once you've settled at your hotel, you can step out to see more of the city. Walk to the insanely busy intersection of Shibuya Crossing and get a bird's-eye view of the famous walkway from the Shibuya Sky rooftop observatory, which sits more than 750 feet (230 m) above street level, or visit the peaceful Shinjuku Gyoen, a 144-acre (58 ha) park with beautiful formal gardens. If you're hungry, stop in at the Harmonica Yokocho District, a stacked network of food vendors, bars, and restaurants.
Day 7: Guided Tokyo City Tour & Sumo Hot Pot Dinner
After breakfast, meet your guides this morning for a guided city tour. You'll start at the historic Asakusa District, a neighborhood that retains an old Tokyo vibe, with traditional craft shops and street foods. Visit the renowned Senso-ji temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, then move on to the tranquil Shinto Meiji Jingu shrine. Meiji offers a fascinating look into Japan's heritage, with incredible architecture and scenic grounds. If you're lucky, you may even be there during one of their daily Shinto ceremonies.
From here, head to the trendy Harajuku District, known for its colorful street art and edgy youth fashion. Check out some of the vintage clothing stores and cosplay shops, then end your tour in Ryogoku, the home and heart of sumo wrestling. See Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena, which hosts sumo and boxing, then stop at Edo Noren, a street that replicates an Edo-period village and where the staple soup of wrestlers is served—chankonabe, or Sumo hot pot. Indulge in this hearty stew while learning more about Japan's Sumo culture.
Day 8: Tsukiji Outer Market & Sushi-Making Lesson
Discover Japan's deep connection with seafood on a combined tour of Tsukiji Outer Market and a sushi-making workshop. Accompanied by your guides, you'll start at the market, exploring the seafood kiosks while you learn more about the origins of sushi. Then, you'll join a Masterchef-led cooking class to learn all the essential sushi-making techniques. Your instructors will share insight into choosing the freshest ingredients, and you'll practice making sushi rolls and other dishes. Enjoy your sushi creations for lunch, then the rest of your day is free to seek out more culinary delights around the market.
Day 9: Explore the Realm of Mount Fuji, Fuji Gotemba Distillery Tasting
Today, you'll tour Mount Fuji, an active volcano located approximately 60 miles (100 km) outside of Tokyo. Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san as the locals call it, is the country's highest peak, stretching into the sky at more than 12,000 feet (3,776 m). It's a common pilgrimage site, with people coming from around the world to hike it, and it's considered one of Japan's three sacred mountains. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel, and you'll be on your way, with a few scenic stops.
Visit Arakurayama Sengen Park, where Mount Fuji views frame a monumental pagoda. See Oshino Hakkai, a set of eight ponds fed by snow melt from Fuji's slopes, and stop in at Hannoki Bayashi Shiryokan, a small museum at Oshino Hakkai's largest pond with a thatched-roof farmhouse and exhibits of farming tools, household items, samurai armor, and weapons.
This afternoon, board a small boat for a cruise across Lake Kawaguchi or head for the sky on the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway, reaching an observation deck for panoramic lake and mountain views. The day's adventure closes with a stop at the Fuji Gotemba Distillery, where whisky and sake are produced using water sourced from Fuji's snow melt. Learn about their sake-making process and enjoy a tasting of the different spirits, then return to Tokyo for the evening.
Day 10: Fly To Sapporo, Self-Guided Tour of Michelin Star Restaurants
You're off to Sapporo today! Your private transfer will take you to the airport for the quick, 1.5-hour flight. Located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is known for its beer production, fine dining, and snow-themed outdoor activities. The site for the 1972 Winter Olympics, you'll find ski hills and jumps scattered around town, and ski resorts nearby. After your flight touches down and your private transfer drops you off at your hotel for check-in, take a self-guided tour of some of the many Michelin-starred eateries that are part of this amazing city.
Start at Hyousetsu No Mon, which is renowned for its crab dishes. Try crab shabu shabu, tempura, or crab sashimi. Then visit Mikuni Sapporo, a French restaurant with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients in a fine dining atmosphere. Pop into Araki Tempura for some of the best tempura you can imagine, and if you're not too full, end at Sushi Miyakawa for high-end sushi dishes or Ramen Shingen, a popular restaurant in the city center which serves excellent miso ramen.
Day 11: Historic City Tour, Beer Tasting & Barbecue
Immerse yourself in Sapporo's rich history and culture this morning, starting at the iconic Sapporo Clock Tower, built in the late 1800s and the oldest clock tower in Japan. You can walk through the first and second floors, where there are displays that tell more about the tower's origins. Then, head to sprawling Odori Park, a large public park in the city center with green space that stretches across 12 city blocks! At the eastern end of the park, you'll find the Sapporo TV Tower—visit their observation deck for incredible views of the park and surrounding neighborhoods.
Next up is the Sapporo Beer Museum, the only museum of its kind in Japan and a Hokkaido Heritage site. Learn about Japan's beer history and enjoy a tasting, then end the day with an all-you-can-drink-and-eat experience at the nearby Sapporo Beer Garden, savoring a Genghis Khan-style mutton barbecue. Afterward, head back to your hotel to relax or continue your exploration of the city on your own.
Day 12: Salmon Hot Pot Lesson with a Local Family, Transfer to Hakodate
Eat like a local on a culinary adventure in Hokkaido's Ishikari, just a 20-minute journey from Sapporo. Your guide will transport you to the home of a local family, where you'll learn to make the region's famous salmon hot pot or Ishikari nabe. This delicious dish is a staple in this region, featuring salmon, potatoes, corn, and more in a savory miso-based broth. Your hosts will walk you through the cooking process, explaining how each ingredient is used and discussing the cultural significance of hot pot meals. Once prepared, sit down to savor the rich and creamy flavors with your hosts and their family.
After your cookery experience, continue your journey with a private transfer to Hakodate, a scenic drive of about 3.5 hours. Located at the base of Mount Hakodate, the city is known for its gourmet food—primarily its fresh seafood. You'll have free time this evening to seek out some of that gourmet cuisine at local restaurants or take a sunset stroll around town.
Day 13: Hakodate Morning Market, Seafood Breakfast & City Tour
Start your day in Hakodate with a guided city tour. Meet your guides early and make a visit to the Hakodate Morning Market, a daily market that spans four city blocks. Feast on a traditional seafood breakfast at one of the stalls here, such as kaisendon donburi, a bowl that contains thinly sliced sashimi over rice.
Once you've had your fill of fresh seafood, visit Fort Goryokaku, a large star-shaped citadel built in the last years of the Edo Period as a defense for the city. Soak up the panoramic views from the nearby Goryokaku Tower, then head to the Motomachi District, seeing landmarks such as the Russian Orthodox Church and Old British Consulate. Finish the day's tour with a breathtaking ascent up Mount Hakodate Ropeway, an aerial lift that transports you up the steep slopes and to endless views of the city lights.
Day 14: Depart Hakodate
Sadly, your fantastic foodie journey through Japan ends today. After breakfast, you'll check out of your hotel and be transferred to Hakodate Airport for your journey home or to your next destination. Safe travels!
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