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Sushi and Samurai - A Food Tour of Japan

15 days from £5980 per person

Japan is famous the world over for its gastronomic and cultural delights and this journey explores the many different highlights. This itinerary combines unique cookery classes, including a lesson from an expert soba chef and a sushi making master-class, with some of the country’s finest cultural treasures. Alongside this, plenty of time will be spent experiencing Japanese cuisine including a visit to Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market, and Osaka’s famous Dotonbori restaurant quarter. Some days on this journey will be spent with a local guide with the remainder of the holiday self-guided.

Route: Tokyo – Takayama – Kyoto – Koyasan – Osaka – Hakone – Tokyo

Itinerary Highlights

Tokyo is a food lover’s paradise, offering something for everyone and a sheer number of fantastic restaurants, markets and cooking classes.

For more than a thousand years, Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan. The city is filled with temples, palaces and gardens. This is the Japan of geishas and ancient inns.

Osaka is a huge port city on Honshu Island known for its modern architecture, nightlife and delicious street-food. 16th century Osaka Castle is surrounded by moats and parks with fruit trees.

Itinerary: Sushi and Samurai - A Food Tour of Japan

Today depart the UK on the British Airways flight non-stop to Tokyo. (N)
On arrival in Tokyo you will be met by a representative and taken to the airport shuttle bus which will provide your transfer to your accommodation. One of Asia’s great cities, over the decades Tokyo has cemented its position as a global economic powerhouse. With its futuristic skyline, dazzling neon advertisements and surging crowds, it is easy to forget that Tokyo started life as a small 16th century fishing village named Edo. Reminders of this ancient past remain which, when coupled with the surrounding modern city, give Tokyo a unique, forward-thinking identity but one in touch with its past. (N)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
An early start today as you head with a local guide to Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest fish markets. After exploring the outer market, enjoy a sushi breakfast in one of the market’s fresh sushi bars. Walk through the nearby Hama-Rikyu Teien garden and stop in a tea house, then visit Asakusa, part of Tokyo’s old town which is home to the Sensoji Temple. From here it is a short walk to Kappabashi, otherwise known as ‘Kitchenware Town’, before ending the day at Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho – a bustling market filled with shops and stalls selling fresh fish, spices and local snacks. (B)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
Today discover the secrets of the Japanese soba buckwheat noodle with a special half-day cooking course in the company of an expert soba chef. The chef will take time to explain how to correctly prepare and make this staple of Japanese cuisine and provide other pointers throughout the course of the lesson. In the afternoon you are free to explore Tokyo maybe visiting the electronics district of Akihabara or spending time in Tokyo’s world class museums and art galleries. (B/L)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. This morning take the Shinkansen Bullet train to Nagoya then connect on to a further train to Takayama. Winding through the mountains of the Japanese Alps, this is one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan. With its beautifully preserved old town, Takayama’s inaccessibility from the rest of Japan allowed it to develop its own unique culture. Stay for two nights at the Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan, a modern ryokan complete with tatami mats and onsen baths. Later visit the town’s many sake breweries. (B/D)
Accommodation in Takayama: Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Following breakfast make your way to the Miyagawa morning market, then take a bus to the Hida No Sato Folk Village – an open air museum exhibiting homes and buildings traditional to the Hida region as well as a workshop illustrating wood carving, weaving and lacquering. In the afternoon visit the Takayama Festival Museum, displaying floats from the town’s famous festival, or simply spend the rest of the day wandering through the beautifully preserved old town. (B/D)
Accommodation in Takayama: Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. This morning leave Takayama and travel by train to Japan’s cultural capital Kyoto. This afternoon visit a restored wooden house and take part in a ‘Tea Ceremony’ – a quintessential part of Japanese culture. Home to an astonishing 2,000 shrines and temples, including seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sights, Kyoto became capital of Japan in 794 AD remaining so until 1868. A highlight of any visit to Japan, roughly one out of four of the country’s national treasures can be found in the city. (B)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
Following breakfast explore Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites with a local guide. Start the morning with a visit to Nijo Castle, which was completed in 1603 and famous for its Momoyama architecture and stunning gardens, then continue to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. From here visit the 15th century Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, home to one of Japan’s best Zen rock gardens, then the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple for fabulous views over the city. End the day exploring the old wooden buildings and atmospheric lanes of Kyoto’s historic Higashiyama district. (B)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
After a morning at leisure meet your guide and visit the mile-long Nishiki covered food market. With its endless number of interesting food stores, this is the ideal place from which to buy the ingredients for your cooking class. Leave the market and stroll through one of Kyoto's traditional neighbourhoods to the class stopping en-route for a taste test at a local sake brewery. At the class you will cook your own evening meal and will learn to make rolled sushi, miso soup and Japanese-style salad. (B/D)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. This morning travel by local train into the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture to Mt Koya (Koyasan) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Reach the summit by cable car and meet your guide who will show you the main sites. Koyasan is the centre of Shingon Buddhism which was introduced to Japan in 805 AD and is a place few foreign visitors get to see. Stay overnight at Shukubo – a Japanese temple lodging – and enjoy a dinner of Shojin Ryori, traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. (B/D)
Accommodation in Koyasan: Shukubo (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Rising early, witness the monks chanting their morning prayers. Following breakfast further explore Koyasan and, after descending the mountain by cable-car, take the train to Osaka. Japan’s third biggest city, Osaka is a flamboyant, fun-loving place with an extensive food culture. Osakans’ love good food and with its futuristic skyline is the epitome of a modern Japanese city. (B)
Accommodation in Osaka: Cross Hotel (or similar)
With a local guide, today explore Osaka starting at the 3rd century Sumiyoshi Taisha. One of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, Sumiyoshi is an excellent example of traditional Shinto architecture. After visiting Osaka Castle head to the Doguyasuji shopping arcade, a unique market where you can find almost anything related to the food industry, and end the day in Dotonbori, the main restaurant destination, where you can sample everything from ‘fugu’ puffer fish to ‘tacoyaki’ – an Osakan street-food favourite. (B/D)
Accommodation in Osaka: Cross Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Make your way to Osaka Station and take the train to Hakone the gateway to Mount Fuji. Later explore Hakone National Park and, armed with the included Transport Pass, take advantage of the numerous forms of transport on offer throughout the park. Ride the world’s second longest cable car up Mount Owakudanin for a birds-eye view of Mount Fuji, take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi or ride the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’ which zigzags through the mountain giving magnificent views of the surrounding valleys. (B/D)
Accommodation in Hakone: Yugiriso Ryokan (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. After breakfast make your way back to Hakone Station in good time to catch the Shinkansen Bullet to Tokyo. The remainder of the day is at leisure to either relax or further explore Japan’s vibrant capital city. (B)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
This morning take the airport shuttle bus back to the airport to catch the British Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Train travel as specified
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Japan Holiday Review

Our whole holiday ran smoothly, each day perfectly organised.  At our first hotel the Sunroute Plaza in Tokyo, we found the room to be small with no wardrobe or storage, however the staff were very friendly and the breakfast tasty.  Our day with our Guide, Mutsuko was invaluable.  She was a lovely lady, who gave us the confidence to navigate the vast railway system.  The highlights of our day were the beautiful gardens at the Imperial Palace and visiting Asakusa.

On to Kanazawa, our favourite place, the gardens of Kenroken, although popular were very tranquil and peaceful. We had a lovely day visiting the places as advised on 'Our Perfect Day'.  

Shirakawago was a picture postcard village.  Takayama was certainly an experience, typical Japanese, where our shoes were left in lockers and we went around the hotel in bare or stocking feet.  We even had Japanese clothing to wear around the hotel if you were brave enough to use it.

Our hotel in Kyoto was right in the heart of the station, but you would never have known.  Again we had an excellent Guide in Reiko. We had an energetic day visiting the Bamboo forest, and climbing the mountain to feed the monkeys at Arashiyama, as well as Nijo-jo Castle and the Golden Temple.

We really enjoyed our Tea Ceremony, it was a wonderful experience. All  in all we have had the most amazing holiday. From travelling on the most extraordinary trains, to staying in lovely hotels and experiencing the wonderful hospitality of the Japanese people. We could not believe how clean everywhere was.  No litter, no graffiti and no smoking in the street,  We were impressed by the smartness of all levels of the workers.

So again 'Arigato gozaimasu'  to all concerned for making this a truly remarkable and memorable holiday.

P & R - Japan - July 2018

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