Explore Japan through its people, places, history – and of course – the food!
Japan has one of the most diverse, amazing food cultures in the world. With almost as many Michelin-starred restaurants as the homeland of Michelin itself (France), Japan takes its perfection of cuisine to the next level.
This fall we’ll be taking you on a tour of the Kansai region of Japan, starting in Kyoto; and making our way through Shiga Prefecture, Nara, and Kobe; before finishing in Osaka. Along the way we’ll be sampling the best food we can get our hands on, wandering the markets, learning how to cook regional specialties, and spending time with the locals.
Even if you consider yourself a Japanese food expert, and you know your tonkotsu from your tonkatsu, you’ll learn a thing or two by visiting the holy grail of foodies with us.
A fast-paced schedule. Lots of food and drink. Tons of fun with a small, select group of awesome people.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, please, continue onward…
There will be only seven spots open for the Spring 2024 trip (not including your guide).
We want to keep the group small, thereby allowing access to some of the more intimate restaurants and attractions that are commonly found throughout Japan. Oftentimes a restaurant may only have eight seats available in the entire house, so if you show up with a large group you’re out of luck.
We’re a cool, like-minded group of people who will all get along with each other, so half the fun of the trip is making new friends and the time you’ll be spending together.
Your guide, Scott Brills, is the founder of Eat Japan. He has lived in and visited Japan off and on for the past seventeen years, speaks Japanese, and has a real passion for food.
Initially studying in Japan during university for nearly a year in 2001, Scott enjoyed his time there so much that he continued to spend a portion of every year back in the country he loves. Since then, he has worked at restaurants, hotels, and bars in the country, as well as co-founding a consulting firm in Tokyo to assist Japanese hotels and restaurants doing business in the U.S.
Scott is a trained professional in sake, shochu, and tea, so be sure to ask him all of the questions while on an Eat Japan adventure with him!
We will be eating the entire gamut of Japanese food, from Michelin-star restaurants to some of the best street food in the world.
Most of the food will be without a doubt delicious, but there will be some oddities thrown in to mix it up a little. It’s expected that you be an adventurous eater—at least give it a try!
Have food allergies or intolerances? Japan is not known for being an easy place to be gluten-free, vegan, etc. Vegetarians can get by without too much hassle (especially if you are okay with fish, as most cooking stocks are made using dried bonito fish flakes).
If you have allergies/intolerances/strong preferences and are not willing or able to change or alter your normal diet for whatever reason—this may not be the trip for you. (Instead, we recommend our custom, private tour planning services, where we can plan around your dietary needs as required.)
Every room will be non-smoking, with a full or queen-sized bed, an en-suite bathroom, and free WiFi access. Each guest or couple gets their own room.
All properties chosen for our Eat Japan group adventures are three or four stars, with an emphasis placed on being in a great location—generally close to the city’s main train station, to allow for quick and easy movement between attractions.
The tentative itinerary is as follows, but is dependent on the weather and seasonal events.
- March 14: Arrive in Tokyo via either Narita (NRT, further) or Haneda (HND, closer) International Airport, then take a train to Tokyo. Welcome dinner.
- March 15: Explore Tokyo during the day—Ginza, Tsukiji Fish Market, Shibuya, etc. This evening we’ll be treated to a sushi-making course taught by a couple that has helped open, and worked at, multiple sushi restaurants around the world.
- March 16: Michelin-starred ramen for lunch, after which we hop on a bullet train to Kyoto for an izakaya dinner with some new friends.
- March 17: Explore Kyoto, starting with a trip to Nishiki market for a strolling lunch on your own, followed by visits to the Teramachi-dori covered mall, the Kamogawa River, and the Ponto-cho entertainment district. We’ll head back to the hotel to rest up for a couple of hours before heading to a very special festival on the shores of Lake Biwa, which goes until the last train.
- March 18: Today we’ll take a day trip to Nara to explore the ancient capital of Japan. After a day filled with deer and temples, we’ll head off to a Michelin-starred sushi experience a few towns over before returning to Kyoto that night.
- March 19: Today we explore Osaka, including Osaka Castle and Dotonbori Street, and lunch at the internet-famous Izakaya Toyo, where the owner blowtorches tuna cheek to perfection. In the late afternoon we head off to the sumo stadium where we’ll root for our favorite wrestlers as they do their thing, before heading to dinner at the sumo’s favorite restaurant.
- March 20: Tea day! Today we focus on the growing and harvesting of tea, the different types available, and what makes Japanese tea special. We’ll end the day with a visit to Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine followed by a casual dinner at one of Scott’s favorite spots, where he’s been enjoying meals for over twenty years.
- March 21: One last day to explore Kyoto, including tea with geishas and a reservation at the most exclusive restaurant in the city.
- March 22: This morning we’ll learn all about sake while visiting an operating sake brewery—what it’s made from, how it’s made, and the different types available. After that, we take the Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo in time for a unique home-hosted dinner.
- March 23: Today we’ll explore the Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji with a local expert. Special farewell dinner and evening activities.
- March 24: The trip officially ends as of breakfast, but feel free to spend the afternoon with us as we have an optional hanami (cherry blossom) party in Yoyogi Park.
The total cost to join our Eat Japan March 2024 tour is $7,490 per person.
To secure your spot there will be a non-refundable $1,000 deposit required. First come, first served. (The deposit will be applied to the trip balance, and is non-refundable as it goes directly to hotel room bookings, event reservations/tickets, etc.)
The balance for the entire trip – an additional payment of $6,490 – will be due no later than 90 days before the start date of the trip. If your payment is not received by that time you may lose your deposit and place on the trip.
What the $7,490 payment includes:
- 10 nights of accommodation
- Each guest or couple gets their own private en suite room
- 11 days of guiding services
- Breakfast every morning at our hotel
- Lunch and dinner, including three to four Michelin-starred restaurant experiences
- All transport in Japan, excluding transfer to/from the airport
- Entrance to all attractions (e.g. events, sumo tournaments, temples, etc.)
What the $7,490 payment does NOT include:
- Flights to/from Japan
- Transportation to/from the airport (about $20 each way)
- Alcohol, souvenirs, or additional food items not included in the package (convenience store snacks, etc.)
Accepted payment methods include cash, check, money order, PayPal (applicable fees paid on your end), Venmo, or Zelle/Chase QuickPay. If you our address to send a check or money order please contact us.
PLEASE NOTE: Your initial deposit of $1,000 is non-refundable under any circumstances. If you need to opt out of the trip and would like to suggest someone to take your place, this may be able to be done on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us directly if you need to transfer your spot to someone else.
Besides the $7,490 trip cost, you’ll need money for any drinks, train tickets to/from the airport, and any souvenirs you would like to buy—that’s it.
We’ve found that a few hundred dollars in spending money should get you through the entire trip. This depends on how much you spend on drinks and souvenirs of course, but we’ve found that this amount is a good number for most.
Credit cards are widely accepted, and debit cards can be used at most ATMs to withdraw yen. It is recommended to always have cash on you, to pay for any incidentals that may come up.
We will be arranging three high-end dinners during the duration of your trip, at Michelin-starred restaurants. They are usually set menus and will be some of the most amazing food you’ve ever experienced in your life.
Err on the side of traveling light – think one roller suitcase and a carry-on/backpack.
Weather will run the gamut, as we are there when it is getting cooler out, so it could be cold, or it could be warm – it’s a toss-up (average weather conditions in Kyoto can be found listed here). There may be a few days of rain, so definitely bring a light raincoat (we can also buy cheap umbrellas at any convenience store if needed). We suggest you bring a winter hat and a winter coat as well, as it can get cold in the evenings.
The trip will more often than not be casual dress, but bring a nice outfit or two for the high-end restaurants we will be visiting (button-up shirts, dresses, etc.).
There will be quite a bit of walking most days, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Sorry, this trip is full. However, you can contact us regarding our next trip, happening in September/October 2024.