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Culinary Experience:
Tokyo to Kyoto 9 Days/8 Nights

Many nations of the world have forged national identities around unique properties or experiences that are exclusive to that country. Whether it is landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, or natural phenomena like Norway’s view of the Northern Lights, destinations have been defined by these icons. Food has now become the pinnacle icon for many nations around the world. Japan, is a ancient culture that has a rich history of creating unique culinary delights. What comes to your mind when you image ‘Japanese food’? Sushi? Tempura? Needless to say they are classic images of Japanese food, but don’t you think you would like to delve deeply into the intricacies Japanese cuisine and its effect on Japanese anthropology?
This tour will offer you a chance to experience the variety of food throughout main island of Japan, Honshu, as well as learning its own cultural and historical background. Not only culinary, you will also see the most important temples, shrines, gardens, museums and neighborhoods in each location.

Day 1: Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, you will be warmly welcomed by your English-speaking assistant at the arrival lobby of Haneda/ Narita airport.  You will be transferred to Tokyo city by chauffeured car.

Day 2: Tokyo

At 4.30AM, you will be picked up by your driver to observe the famous Tsukiji fish markets tuna auction! You will be escorted by a chef and closely see how the auction is carried, then you will enjoy tasting some of the freshest seafood that the chef has bidden during the auction.(this part will be your own expense according to what you taste)

After several hours rest back at hotel, your English-speaking guide will meet you at the lobby and take you on a Tokyo city sightseeing tour. Before going on the tour, your lunch stop will be at one of the most famous Sushi restaurants in Tokyo. After your delicious meal, you will visit;
  • Asakusa, Tokyo’s most sacred and spectacular temple
  • Kappabashi Street, Tokyo’s centre for kitchenware and the source of the plastic food display
  • Yanaka district, where you will find the packed houses in narrow alleys, and traditional food stalls selling rice crackers and old-fashioned candy.

The tour ends at Shinjuku Golden Town, where most of the bars here are just wide enough for a bar, a counter, and a row of stools, followed by visiting a Izakaya for dinner to try Japanese local dishes and typical snacks to go with alcohol.

Day 3: Tokyo

Meiji Jingu Shrine, the most important Shinto shrine in Tokyo, will be your first destination of the day. After which you will explore the neighboring areas of Harajuku and Omotesando, the centre of fashion with variety from high-end international showcases to bargain boutiques. You will be then taken to Nihombashi district, the mercantile and entrepreneurial centre of Edo and Meiji Tokyo, which nowadays more known for Tokyo’s Japanese traditional cultural area and its specialty shops. Here, you can make a visit to kitchenware shop specializing kitchen knives and chopsticks, also visiting a ‘dashi’ , soup stock, shop and Japanese confectionary café, where you can observe how the confectionary is hand made.

The dinner will be arranged at one of Michelin starred restaurant according to your request.

Day 4: Kyoto

Around noon, you will be transferred to Tokyo Station. Get something for your lunch from ‘depachika’ the basement of department stores, where various range of Japanese and Western gourmet foods are offered. You can enjoy your lunch as you travel to Kyoto on the Shinkansen. After you are warmly welcomed by your English-speaking guide at the platform of Kyoto Station, you will be taken to one of the old zen temple in Kyoto city. Here you will experience the full tea ceremony, not only to be served, you can also experience preparing it yourselves. Following the tea ceremony, explore Gion area, Kyoto’s best known geisha quarter and teahouses. You may run into Geisha and Maiko if you are lucky! Dinner will be arranged in Kyoto city according to your request.

Day 5: Kyoto

Osaka is today’s destination. First you will be taken to ‘Suntory Whiskey Yamazaki Distillery’ to learn about the craftsmen’s dedication and skill for producing this famous malt whisky at the Yamazaki Distillery through a movie and tasting. You will the depart on walk-and-eat-tour of locals’ favourite foods such as Takoyaki, Karaage, Ebisen in Dotombori and other areas in Osaka. If you still have a space in your stomach, your guide gladly arrange you a ‘Okonomiyaki’ lunch.

Enjoy a  sightseeing trip to Osaka Castle and Namba Yasaka Shrine, otherwise known as ‘The Lion Shrine’ for its giant lion shaped building. You will then head back to Kyoto and you will be enjoying the Japanese Kaiseki dinner, a traditional multi-course dinner. Private performance of Maiko and Geisha are available at your request.

Day 6: Kyoto
 
Today you will be covering the main highlights of Kyoto, starting from Kinkakuji Temple, the Golden Pavilion, Ryoanji Temple, famous for its rock garden, Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kiyomizudera Temple, that offers wonderful views of Kyoto, Sanjusangendo Temple, that displays 1001 Kannon statues and 1000 armed Kannon, and Fushimi Inari Taisha, with its thousands of torii gates. During the tour, you will have a chance to visit a shop for ‘sansho-chirimen’ and ‘chili spices’ that originated in Kyoto.

The lunch will be served at ‘Obanzai’ restaurant, the traditional style of Japanese cuisine native to Kyoto, and in order to considered as ‘Obanzai’, at least half of its ingredients must be produced or processed in Kyoto. Dinner is not included on this day, but we are happy to arrange a table according to your request.

Day 7: Kanazawa

You will be escorted to Kyoto Station to catch a direct train to Kanazawa. The limited express train ride will take 2 hours ride and you will be welcomed by your English-speaking guide at the platform.
Omi Market is Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market operating since the Edo Period, you can either find a restaurant to have your lunch or do walk-and-eat-tour. After lunch, your guide will be taking you to main highlights that Kanazawa offers. First start with Higashi Chaya Town, the old-fashioned street lamps and wooden-lattice windows hiding elegant restaurants and galleries, and then to Kenrokuen Garden, Japan’s one of great three gardens established in the mid 17th century. Your sightseeing ends at Nagamachi Samurai Quarter, where former samurai lived in Edo period.

You will check-in to a traditional Japanese styled inn – Ryokan, in Yamashiro Hot Spring or Kanazawa city. Enjoy Japanese traditional Kaiseki cuisine in Kanazawa style tonight. Kanazawa kaiseki emerged as its own food culture based on the blessing of rich and abundant ingredients including fresh seafood from the Japan Sea, pure water flowing down from Haku-san and rich soil which produces an abundance of quality crops. After dinner, enjoy a relaxing evening and experience an onsen hot spring.

Day 8: Kanazawa

In the morning, you will be taken to Takayama to experience the morning markets. It is held on a daily basis, not only for fresh vegetables, fishes and fruits, but you may be able to find Japanese souvenirs as well. Takayama is centrally located in the Japanese alps, the isolated location has meant the survival of unspoiled Edo-period streets lined with tiny shops, museums and eating places that you can walk around. It is also renowned for its excellent Sake. Takayama’s specialty dish is ‘Hida beef’. You will be having the Hida beef either in BBQ, Sukiyaki, Shabu-Shabu or steak style in your choice. After lunch, you will be taken to Shirakawago, the World Heritage Site with unique thatched houses.

The last dinner is not included Any requests are happily arranged.

Day 9: Tour Finish

In the morning, you will be transferred to Komatsu Airport for you to fly back to Tokyo Haneda Airport or a destination of your choice. The tour ends upon your departure.

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