The Delights of Eating Your Way Around Japan



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One aspect of Japanese culture that strikes many travellers who explore Japan is just how distinctive the variation is in regional foods. 

And how you can get a speciality in one region - but nowhere else in the country. 

What better excuse do you need to eat your way around Japan?

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Explore Japan by Food The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Japan Rail poster for regional crab cuisine

Japan food tours

The Japanese are very proud of this variety, and do a lot to not only preserve this regional character, but go positively overboard in promoting these differences with package tours built entirely around travelling to another part of Japan solely to sample the local delicacy.

Although aimed primarily at internal travellers, they are, of course, also open to foreigners and can be a unique (to say nothing of delicious!) way to discover The Real Japan.

Japan Real Food Adventure Tour

Start in Tokyo and end in Kyoto!

With this food and culinary tour Japan Real Food Adventure, you have a 12 day tour package taking you from Tokyo, via Takayama, Kanazawa, Osaka and Koya-san to Kyoto.

Japan Real Food Adventure is a small group tour that includes hotel accommodation as well as an English-speaking expert guide, meals and transport.

Meals included: 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners.

This tour offers Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal and Kosher food options on request.

Highlights include:

  • Learn how to make soba
  • Sample Japanese whiskeys
  • Eat like a sumo wrestler
  • Explore the rural countryside

This tour is run by Intrepid Travel - the largest small group adventure tour provider in the world.

Japan Real Food Adventure Tour

Go into any Japanese train station at any part of the year and you will see numerous colourful flyers with promotions for short, food-themed package tours.

These are built around travelling to a region, by train. In the usual way of excellent Japanese customer service and efficiency, will include being picked up at the train station by a private car or bus.

Then you'll be taken to a local hostelry - where your stay will be geared around you sampling as many of the neighbourhood's delights as possible.

Explore Japan By Food The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Advertising for regional specialities in Toba, Mie Prefecture

This is not only a wonderful way to sample regional foods that often cannot be had anywhere else in the country, but is a terrific way to travel.

The common interest in food being the ideal talking point for kicking off fascinating conversations and potentially new friendships.

Moreover, as these trips are aimed mainly at the Japanese themselves, you'll find few foreigners actually participating.

This is a good thing, because you get to blend more with, and behave like, a Japanese rather than a regular tourist. Albeit whilst doing a very 'touristy' thing!

Explore Japan By Food The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Regional crab feast

So, next time you are planning a trip to Japan, think about eating your way around Japan, using food and train company package tours as a way of getting see other parts of the country the way the Japanese themselves do.

If you are a foodie and would like to read more about food, culture and 'food culture' in Japan, I can thoroughly recommend Peter Carey's entertaining book Wrong About Japan. In fact, I'd recommend it even if you are not a foodie.

READ MORE: Japan Real Food Adventure Tour


What Japanese food do you most like? Let me know by leaving a comment below...

Rob Dyer The Real Japan

About the Author

A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of


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  • Bernard Hunt says:

    How accessible are the food/train tours for people who do not speak Japanese – both to find/choose one, and to participate?
    Is it something you can preplan/book before traveling to Japan, or just hope you can pick up a suitable one when you are there?

    • Hi Bernard. thanks for your questions. There’s a couple of main ways to use trains to sample Japan’s foods.

      Taking regular train services to specific regions to try their local dishes, and taking dedicated excursion trains which include food and drink as part of their experience.

      The former is easier to book, can be booked as and when you decide to take the trip and can be done through the usual channels. Some rail company websites have information on food-related services.

      Excursion trains take a bit more planning. These ones you will generally have to book in advance (JR East’s FruiTea Fukushima Joyful train is one example: But some are only bookable a maximum of 1 month ahead of the date of travel. More niche services may only be online in Japanese. If so, simply post the URL in Google translate if pages are only in Japanese, that works pretty well.

      A couple of related posts you might also want to read are:
      Regional Japan Rail Passes: 5 Best-Value Passes
      What To Eat in Nagoya: Top 5 Local Dishes

      Alternatively, this is something that I could help you with as part of my Travel Planning Services. Details here:

      Hope this helps.

  • Regina Rianelli says:

    Dear #TheRealJapan #Editor,

    WOW… great to know:
    #DomoArigatôGuzaimasu !

    These are #Fabulous #hints to all of us that need #knowledgeable #safe #informations while traveling in #Japan !

    #Japanese people Master with #Class in #everything they do : #Cheers !!!

    Thank YOU!,

    • Hi Regina, glad you found the article so exciting!

      Hope you can put some of these idea to use when you travel to Japan. 🙂

      • Regina Rianelli says:

        Dear #RobDyer #san,

        DomoArigatôGuzaimasu !

        Sure thing: #great Article with the informations we all need !

        Count me in !!!

        my Best + Sayonara!,
        Regina Rianelli

  • Regina Rianelli says:

    Dear #TheRealJapan #Editor,

    WOW… great to know:
    #DomoArigatôGuzaimachita !

    Fabulous #hints to all of us that need #knowledgeable #safe #informations traveling in #Japan !

    They Master with #class in #everything they do : #Cheers !!!

    Thank YOU!,

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