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The best Japan food tour by category and experience

The Best Japan Food Tour and Experience by Category: Top 15

Food lovers will find a never-ending banquet of seasonal produce in famous locations in Japan. Among the dazzling cities and mountainous regions, the unique culture and extraordinary food will leave you with great memories to last a lifetime. If you’re wondering what is the best Japan food tour option, this article will help you decide!

Some of the highlights we’ll cover include Osaka’s famous food like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, wild ingredients from the mountainous region of Gifu, and the elaborate traditional tea ceremony. There is a LOT to try and fall in love with.

We did our best to narrow down to the essentials, the things you gotta try your first time in Japan, and the tours that will take you on the journey. Let that inner foodie out and explore this list of the best food tours in Japan.

Why Experience Japanese Food Culture?

A Japanese man about to lunch in a restaurant in Japan

These masters of culinary traditions create some of the best and most unique dishes in the world. Whether it’s the Kyoto masters who lovingly refer to their kitchens as okudo-san or the many Michelin-star restaurants (most in the world) in Tokyo, you’ll find both small bites and glamorous meals worthy of the renown of old and modern traditions.

Tokyo is a wonderful place to start. The streets are packed with small eateries serving cheaper sushi, noodles, deep-fried meat, and a host of other foods that are both best and sometimes only in Japan. You’ll also find upscale restaurants, both strictly Japanese and fusion.

Check out our best Tokyo food tour guide.

For fried food, Osaka is the place to go. Many of the seemingly simple dishes one encounters on the street have a rich history. Oil-fried food entered Japan sometime in the Edo period through foreign visitors, and now Japan has some of the most interesting and diverse range of oil-drenched foods to be found anywhere.

Then there are traditions that have survived even longer. In the countryside, where cooking focuses on the seasons of the natural world, including wild plants and vegetables, you’ll find fresh, rich, and unique dishes that change by the seasons. An example of this rich tradition is the okudo-san, the earth oven used in traditional homes. Its history goes back many centuries and is closely related to Polynesian-style cooking. You can still find eateries in the countryside featuring dishes made with this traditional style.

Whether it is regional cuisine made of only fresh ingredients, food harking back to the Edo period, or beer with fried food, there are a million options worth exploring. The recommended way to try the cuisine in Japan and find the local specialties is through a food tour.

Tour NameDurationWhat’s IncludedPrice (USD)Booking
Best of Shibuya Food Tour3 hrsLocal guide, One drink,
5 stops,
Dessert
From $182.00Book here
The Nightlife Osaka Food Tour 3 hrs4 food locations,
1 drink,
Dessert,
Local Guide
From $163.00 (based on the exchange rate at the time of writing)Book here
Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony Wearing a Kimono1.5 hrsKimono,
Guide,
Tea,
Sweets,
Tea-making utensils.
From $58.86Book here
Matcha Kyoto Green Tea Tour3 hrsTour Guide,
Tea,
Lunch Set
From $157.00 (based on the exchange rate at the time of writing)Book here
Ramen Cooking Class at a Kyoto Ramen Factory1.5 hrsInstruction book,
Instructor,
Ingredients
From $114.26Book here
Asakusa Classic Ramen and Crispy Gyoza (Cooking Class)3 hrsInstructor,
All ingredients,
Recipes,
Vegetarian options
From $92Book here
Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Culture Walking Tour3 hrsAll dishes,
One cup of sake,
Professional Guide
From $100.00Book here
Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour of Seafood2 hrsTour photos,
Local guide,
4-5 foods to taste
From $40.16Book here
Sushi-Making Experience in Kyoto1.5 hrsAn instructor,
Fish,
Sushi rolling mat,
Recipe card
From $83.10Book here
Sake Tasting at Local Breweries in Kobe3.5 hrsSake,
Snacks,
Professional Guide
From 62.32Book here
Kyoto Sake Brewery and Tasting Walking Tour3 hrsSake,
Ticket to the museum,
Snacks,
Tour guide
From $87.25Book here
Gion and Kaiseki Kyoto Tour3 hrsTour guide,
Walking tour,
10-course meal
From $202.00 (based on the exchange rate at the time of writing)Book here
Bar Hopping Tour in Shinjuku3 hrs3 or 4 drinks and snacks,
Tour guide,
Pictures,
3 bars
From $107.33Book here
Kyoto Bar Hopping Night Tour3 hrsTour guide,
3 drinks, 2 food options,
Photos
From $105.12Book here
Japan Real Food Adventure12 daysAccommodations,
Tour guides,
Meals,
Transportation, including bullet train tickets,
All scheduled activities
From $6,786Book here

What are the Best Street Food Tours in Japan?

Street food in Japan is popular and regional. What you’ll find in Osaka may not be the same as Tokyo. We’ve put together a list so that wherever you go, you can navigate the maze of back alleys to get the best Japan offers. As culinary classics are deeply tied to the past, many of these tours offer a history and cultural lesson you’ll remember forever.

Best Of Shibuya Food Tour

Overview

The city lights in Shibuya, Tokyo, home to some great food and entertainment

In the heart of Tokyo City, hit the back streets of Tokyo’s premier shopping and drinking location. If you wanna get as much in as possible in one go, this is it. Peel back the facade of glitzy tourist traps, and hit the local joints that Japanese people know and love.

  • Guided tour with recommendations at 5 food stops on the streets and underground.
  • Japanese food culture favorites, including Wagyu beef skewers, okonomiyaki, sushi, and more!
  • One Beer or Shochu. Purchase more to your heart’s content.

What’s Included

  • Local guide
  • One drink
  • 5 stops
  • Dessert

The Nightlife Osaka Food Tour in Dotonburi

Okonimiyaki is fried Japanese pancake. Try it on the best food tour in Osaka.

Overview

Osaka City is the unofficial food capital of Japan. Its most famous food comes from the street stalls and will be found at every festival and every other corner of Japan any time of year. We’ll be covering one of the best Osaka food tours.

This tour takes you through that journey in the beating, bleeding, neon-glowing entertainment and food district of Namba’s Dotonburi Street. See Osaka’s icons, get your history lesson through an excellent guide, and then get stuffed with fried delicacies.

  • 3 hours of all-inclusive eating.
  • Osaka’s greatest hits include Okonomiyaki (fried Japanese pancake), Takoyaki (fried octopus balls), Kushikatsu (fried vegetables different from tempura), and more.
  • Experience an izakaya (Japanese-style pub).
  • Explore one of Osaka’s famous beer halls.
  • Tour guide who explains and gives suggestions for the best experience possible.

What’s included:

  • 4 food locations
  • 1 drink
  • Dessert
  • Local Guide

What are Japan’s Unique Tea Culture Experiences?

Japan’s tea-making culture is highly ritualistic, technical, and delicious. There is a proper way to sit, to make the tea, and to imbibe. Special and beautiful tools are used to make the tea that creates a light and airy brew both earth and a bit naturally sweet. “Phenom” would be a good word to describe it.

And, with the green tea from rich and fresh matcha powder, there are traditional Japanese sweets you’ll be begging to know where to buy to take back home.

So, to end your anguish and get you involved in this culinary tradition, here are the best experiences in Japan.

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony Wearing a Kimono in Kyoto Maikoya

A woman makes green tea the ceremonial and traditional Japanese way

Overview

Among Kyoto’s many temples are exceptional shops featuring the famous tea ceremony. Serving green tea of various kinds, these prestigious and beautiful houses succeed in transporting visitors to the Edo period of Japan. This is the best way to explore Japan’s culture while getting the authentic flavor of tradition.

Sip tea like a lord or lady from the feudal period of Japan at an authentic Japanese tea chop in the exquisite Gion District of Kyoto City dressed like a Geisha. You’ll learn from a master in the art of ceremony while enjoying this unforgettable experience.

  • Dress in a traditional kimono with guidance.
  • Drink tea and try your hand at the traditional method.
  • Get your photo-op in a kimono.

What’s included:

  • Kimono. Both men’s and women’s options are available.
  • Guide.
  • Tea.
  • Sweets.
  • Tea-making utensils.

Matcha Kyoto Green Tea Tour

Overview

Experience the history and the beauty, the shops and the temples, and the tea of Uji while embarking on one of the best Kyoto food tours.

Uji is home to a designated World Heritage site temple and some of the most famous green teas in Japan. This tour includes tea tasting, a tour through the wonderful tea shops, and a meal of soba noodles. Including a delicious meal and guided shopping, you are gonna have a chance to get the full tea experience and take it home with you.

  • Guided tour of Kyoto’s Uji District over 3 hours
  • Visit tea shops
  • Explore Uji
  • See the World Heritage site, Byoudin Temple
  • Behind the scenes look at tea preparation and production

What’s included

  • Tour Guide
  • Famous locations in Uji and shopping
  • Tea and tea experience
  • Lunch Set

What are the Best Ramen Noodle Experiences?

Ramen comes in many varieties and is readily available in Japan

Noodles are a Japanese staple. Dozens of types and even more variations wait to be tasted throughout the country. Just a few to be found are ramen, udon, soba, and yakisoba.

Ramen Cooking Class at a Kyoto Ramen Factory

Overview

Ramen is one of Japan’s most famous noodle dishes. A variation of a Chinese wheat noodle, each region has further developed its flavor. Kyushu gave the world Tonkotsu (pork) ramen, while Hokkaido added miso, for example.

The only thing better than eating ramen is learning to make it yourself. With this cooking class, you get to try your hand at creating the perfect ramen dish. Make the broth, pick your toppings, and sculpt your noodles. Highly recommended for couples!

  • Learn to make ramen with an instructor.
  • Held at a ramen factory.
  • Choose your sauce and toppings.
  • Lunch with your creation!

What’s included:

  • Instruction book.
  • Instructor.
  • Ingredients.

Read our full review here: The Ramen Factory Tour Kyoto.

Asakusa Classic Ramen & Crispy Gyoza

Overview

Asakusa is Tokyo City’s traditional style district, and it’s packed with food shops and drinks. One of the top recommended first stops on any Tokyo tour, it’s also a great place to taste your first bowl of ramen and the popular gyoza side dish.

You and your small group will have expert instruction over three hours. Learn the history and the ways of authentic, restaurant-style ramen and gyoza. You’ll not just be eating but also cooking like a true local in no time.

  • Small class or private
  • The instructor guides you through the process
  • Ramen and Miso from scratch
  • Try two flavors

What’s included

  • Instructor
  • All ingredients
  • Recipes
  • Vegetarian options

What are the Top fresh Sushi and Seafood Tours?

The best Japan food tour includes sushi and lots of fresh fish

Sushi is often the first food that comes to mind when thinking of Japan’s dishes. This popular food has spread around the world and comes in more variations than is possible to name. But of course, as the old adage says, there is no place like home. When it comes to the home of sushi, Japan does it best.

Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Culture Walking Tour

Overview

Tsukiji is a large fish and local food market. It serves restaurants throughout Tokyo City, including many Michelin-starred restaurants, through the wholesale sale of fresh fish. Hundreds of small shops and little eateries mingle with large industries. It’s the perfect place to get fresh sushi.

Your tour guide will lead you on this three hour tour of the market. Starting early, you’ll have plenty of time to try a range of sushi and fresh fish. This is the best way to try Japanese fish dishes at their freshest!

  • Expert tour through the history and streets and Tsukiji.
  • Taste a range of foods, including sushi, fish cake, and Japanese omelet.
  • Visit famous cutlery selling precious Japanese cookware, including fine Japanese knives

What’s included:

  • All dishes.
  • One cup of sake.
  • Professional Guide.

Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour of Seafood

Kuromon Market is a covered street that gets packed with people

Overview

A larger local food market central to Osaka City featuring over 150 stores. Japan tours through this market will highlight the long history and important connection to “Japan’s kitchen,” the affectionate nickname given to Osaka for its place in Japanese society as a haven for cooking.

This is one of the best places to get local delicacies and fresh seafood, including the very poisonous blowfish. Traditional cooking methods and cutting techniques are used to prepare the special dishes you’ll find here. Try multiple dishes, learn about Japanese culture and the connection to the market, and enjoy seafood culture on this small group tour.

  • Two hours
  • Sample various foods
  • Learn the history and culture
  • Small group for a maximum of five

What’s included

  • Tour photos
  • Local guide
  • 4-5 foods to taste

Read our full review here: The best Kuromon Market tours.

Sushi-Making Experience in Kyoto

Overview

Make your sushi in a traditional Japanese home! This class focuses on Temaki-Zushi (hand roll sushi) and Nigiri Sushi. You’ll learn from a guide and take the skill back home with you.

  • Small group for a personalized experience.
  • Practice rolling sushi with the special mat.
  • Taste a range of sushi and fish.
  • Make the vinegar rice and practice nigiri ball formation.

What’s included

  • An instructor.
  • Fish.
  • Aprons and gloves.
  • sushi rolling mat (you’ll get a new one to take home).
  • Recipe card.

Where to go for a Sake Brewery Tour and Tasting?

The best Japan food tour wouldn't be complete without sake

Sake Tasting at Local Breweries in Kobe

Overview

Kobe’s Nada district produces nearly 30% of Japan’s total sake. Packed with 40 breweries, it’s the place to see a sake brewery in action and taste the magical brew.

This tour will ensure you get the most out of Japanese sake. You’ll visit places that have been in continual operation for 250 years, keeping ancient traditions alive. There are also new and upcoming breweries that feature innovative styles. Follow your guide to find this under-visited gem.

  • Visit local breweries.
  • Get guidance from a connoisseur.
  • Try traditional and new brews.

What’s included

  • Sake.
  • Snacks.
  • Professional Guide.

Kyoto Sake Brewery and Tasting Walking Tour

Overview

Sake has hundreds of years of tradition. Made from rice, it’s an involved laborious process that produces Japan’s most famous homegrown brew. If you’ve ever been interested in how sake is made, and the many different kinds, this is the tour for you.

A tour of a living Japanese brewery, you’ll get a full introduction to the brewing district, a museum, and a tasting restaurant. Get more than a taste with a dizzying variety in this one-of-a-kind tasting.

  • Taste 22 different sakes
  • Get the history of sake and Kyoto
  • Small group for an excellent and tailored experience

What’s included

  • All sake
  • Ticket to the museum
  • Snacks
  • Guide

What Luxurious Fine Dining Experiences Should I Try?

Gion and Kaiseki Kyoto Tour

Overview

Gion is the place to try Japan’s fine dining experience from a local food designer chef. Traditionally, the shops are exclusive. Invitations are required to book. This tour helps you taste some of the best, exquisite food in Japan without the hassle of wondering if you made the right choice.

Experience a culinary adventure through Japan’s 10-course Kaiseki meal after a three-hour tour through the elegant Gion District. A fine meal that features what Japanese people consider to be the real cuisine of Japan, you are in for a treat to a rare meal reserved for special occasions or a farewell dinner. Try the elite food in the district of Geisha and Maiko alongside members of your group. This is the way to try a large range of the most traditional dishes in a single sitting.

  • Hear the history and stories of Gion.
  • Explore the famous Shirakwa neighborhood.
  • End with a 10-course meal you’ll never forget.

What’s included

  • Guide
  • Walking tour
  • 10-course meal.

What are the Best Bar Tours?

Izakayas are Japanese style pubs and make for a great tour

Bar Hopping Tour in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Overview

The small bars in the back alleys of Shinjuku District in Tokyo are appealing and atmospheric. Many foreigners long to try them, but feel intimidated by the culture and local nature of the pubs. Get over your inhibitions, and drink like a local with this tour. Walk through this historic driving district and try a range of drinks at multiple establishments with this small group tour.

  • Three hours in two alleyways.
  • Hop in bars and izakayas.
  • Tips and advice from your guide.
  • Try a range of Japanese alcohol and snacks.

What’s included

  • 3 or 4 drinks and snacks (your choice).
  • Tour guide.
  • Pictures.
  • Three bars.

Kyoto Bar Hopping Night Tour

Drinking beer in a bar in Japan after a long day of exploring is very refreshing

Overview

Hop from bar to bar in one of Kyotos Geisha districts. The traditional wooden buildings with old signage will draw you from drink to drink as your guide explains the area, the shops, and the menu. This experience includes pubs, izakayas, and the standing bars of Japan.

  • Try a range of drinking establishments.
  • Snack on common drinking food in bars and izakayas.
  • Get expert advice.
  • visit three establishments.

What’s included

  • A guide.
  • Three drinks and two food options.
  • Photos.
  • Advice and tips.

What is the best all-inclusive food tour in Japan?

We’ve saved the biggest and most extravagant for last. If you are looking for a non-stop eating and cuisine culinary journey, this is the perfect option for you.

Japan Real Food Adventure

Overview

This 12-day itinerary ensures you try everything that could be recommended for a deep introduction to Japanese cuisine and Japanese culture. A food lover’s dream, explore the Japanese culinary traditions of seven destinations within Japan.

The adventure starts in Tokyo among the skyscrapers. Head to the famous Gifu Prefecture, home to Shirakawa-go and the “Japanese Alps”, and see the rural thatched-roof houses of mountain villages in places like Hida Folk Village. Experience the unique food and culture of Hida-Furukawa’s specialty wild vegetables, earth oven cooking called “okudo-san”, and sake.

The tour ends with a bang while you explore the many shops, eateries, and cooking of Osaka and Kyoto’s delicacies. Let the experts ensure you get the most by way of meat, sushi, tofu, fresh vegetables, and so much more of Japan’s legendary culinary traditions.

  • 7 destinations.
  • Learn traditional cooking methods with hands-on classes
  • Encounter unique accommodations, such as a one-night temple stay and a traditional Japanese inn.
  • Explore bars and backstreets in the major cities.
  • Experience Japan’s hidden rural villages, and local communities.
  • Express train tickets.
  • Free time in some of Japan’s most famous locations.
  • And so much more!

What’s included

  • Accommodations.
  • Tour guides.
  • Meals.
  • Transportation, including bullet train tickets.
  • Itinerary and all activities.

Summary

Japan has so much food to offer it’s impossible to not find something to love. Whether you just want to relax and have a beer or get active with best cooking classes in Japan, a Japan food tour will elevate your trip.

Thanks for reading about these tours. We hope you found the right option to explore the unique culture of Japanese food. Best of luck on your next adventure, and always keep exploring.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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