Japanese Cuisine, Tradition & Modernism
Talking about Japanese cuisine (和食, washoku) could be an endless story since it offers so many delicious dishes. Japanese food is both regional and seasonal. Like with the Japanese architecture, Japanese cuisine is a perfect combination of tradition and modern styles. Restaurants in Japan range from street food stands to centuries old traditional ones. Many restaurants specialize in a single type of food, while others offer a variety of dishes. Below is an introduction of some of the Japanese food you may see on your tour.
At a Japanese ryokan, one of the highlights is dining on “kaiseki” (a traditional, multi-course dinner). Indeed, many Japanese think of a ryokan as a place to dine on “kaiseki” rather than as a type of accommodation. One Kyoto ryokan owner told me that over 70% of his income was from diners while the rest came from overnight guests. What exactly is kaiseki? The term “kaiseki” means hot stone in a kimono fold, and it is believed that Zen priests would tuck hot stones wrapped in towels next to their stomach to cure their hunger pangs during their morning and afternoon prayers (the term “kai” means a fold in a kimono and “seki” means stone). In this way it was believed that only a small amount of kaiseki would be enough to take away your hunger. Originally, kaiseki was a simple, vegetarian meal with dishes such as pickles served during the traditional tea ceremony. It was thought the tea would taste better if the guests were not so hungry. Today kaiseki is no longer a strictly vegetarian meal but may also include both meat and fish. One kaiseki dinner can consist of anywhere from 6 to 15 different kinds of food.
Japan will test all your senses, and its street food scene is no exception. Yatai are small food stalls that can be found at festivals or near train stations. Yatai are a great way to deeply discover Japan and to meet friendly people. These vendors offer an accessible and tasty selection of on-the-go dishes that are cheap, high-quality and delicious. Yatai will offer you dishes such as Takoyaki, Yakisoba, Yakitori, and many others. Our favorite destinations for Yatai are Osaka and Fukuoka.
Kobe Beef is a Japanese delicacy and probably the most widely-known regional specialty food in Japan. It is one of several brands of Wagyu (Japanese beef), which are bred throughout the country and often associated with the area where they are raised. While Kobe Beef is probably the best known type of wagyu outside of Japan, there are many other breeds, such as Matsuzaka and Yonezawa Beef, that are equally or even more famous among Japanese gourmets. When passing by Kobe, don’t miss your chance to have a Kobe Beef dinner! Your Japan travel expert can make reservations for you.
Japan has some of the best restaurants in the world and foodies are known to travel across continents just to dine at its renowned restaurants. Among Japanese cities, Tokyo is the best place to experience a Michelin starred restaurant without a doubt. In 2020, 11 restaurants in Tokyo were awarded 3 Michelin stars bringing the total Michelin starred restaurants to 226 in Tokyo. Your Japan travel expert can make reservations for you at many of these restaurants but please keep in mind that some of them are quite small and are fully booked months in advance.
Shojin-ryori (monk cuisine) is served at shukubo (temple accommodations) on Koyasan (Mt Koya) and at restaurants around Japan. Your meal will consist of vegetables, fruits, tofu, miso, pickles, a savory custard, rice and other dishes all artfully presented in small bowls and dishes. Often you will dine in a Japanese style room on tatami mat flooring. Your meal will be presented to you on a 6 inch high tray and you will sit on a zabuton cushion. Beer is considered vegetarian and can be ordered though drinks are not included in the price of your tour. Please talk to your Japan travel expert if you wish to try a shojin-ryori meal at a shukubo.
Meals requirements are not expressed in the same way all over the world. We want to make sure that we understand your needs, so we can communicate them clearly to restaurants and accommodations. If you have any special meal requirements like Celiac, allergies, vegetarian with fish, vegan, or specific foods that you cannot eat, then you must tell us as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that special meal requirements will limit the number of restaurants or hotels/ryokans available to you and it may be impossible to find one for you. Of course we will do our best to find a place that can prepare meals for you. Please find more details see our Special Meal Requirements page.
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It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...
Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...
I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...
Our team of Japan experts have all lived in Japan for years and know its the hidden treasures. Our team is here to answer all your questions and to build your tour just the way you want it.
Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training and teaching Aikido.
Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.
Izumi has spent most of her life in the Kansai region, except for the 10 years that she enjoyed in the UK. Living abroad has made her appreciate her own culture and local beauty even more. She currently lives in Osaka with her family, including two cats and two dogs.
Great trips don't just happen; it takes expert knowledge and years of experience to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on Rediscover Tours to make your perfect Japanese experience. Our dedication to excellence makes the difference.
Your Japan travel expert will create your trip just for you
Your interests and travel style will be front and center when designing your tour
Accommodations will be selected based on your style and we will inform them of all your special meal and physical requirements
Your Japan expert has lived in Japan or is Japanese
They know the hidden treasures of Japan that you will love and most tourists miss
Most of our team lives in Japan giving them first hand knowledge of the latest trends and experiences for you to enjoy
Private local guides add a whole new depth to your Japanese tour
We only hire the best guides and review each trip with them insuring excellent experience
Your private guide will listen to you, show you sights of interest and will make on the fly changes to match the weather and crowds
Our office in Japan is here to assist and support you
Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000
You will arrive comfortable in the knowledge that all details are taken care of and that our Japan office is just a call away