2019 Food & Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan
An exceptional 14-day tour opportunity for "foodies" to see Japan in the cherry blossom season. Street food to Michelin star + all the sights are thrown in too
The 2019 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour is an extraordinarily special culinary tour of Japan. It builds on the success of our previous Foodies Tours at the famous Japanese cherry blossom time. As usual, the number of guests is limited to just 8 on this boutique tour. Once again this tour runs on the Japanese island of Kyushu as it is the best place for a foodies experience in Japan.
The food experiences range from a Michelin Star restaurant to a friendly casual experience at a ‘Yatai’ mobile street stall. You will see how everyday Japanese fare is grown, prepared and presented as if it were art. The beautiful cherry blossom, culture and sights will add the usual extra dimension again this year.
Places visited: Fukuoka, Dazaifu, Itoshima, Karatsu, Arita/Imari, Nagasaki, Unzen, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Yufuin, Kurokawa Onsen, and Yame
Group size: Min 6, Max 8
Transport: Private mini bus, ferry
Accommodation: Minimum 3.5 star hotels and equivalent Japanese style inns
Fitness level: Moderate (please refer to FAQ)
Tour Type: Signature
Right in the middle of Kyushu’s cherry blossom season
Gastronomic adventure through wide ranging food
The historically significant city of Dazaifu
Onsen (mineral hot spring spa) & ryokan (Japanese style inn)
Farms, a sake brewery, a tea plantation & more
Beautiful Japanese ceramic pottery & a pottery kiln
Famous Japanese castles & gardens
Nagasaki Peace Park & A-bomb museum
Day 1: Arrival
On your arrival at Fukuoka for your 2019 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour, you will be met by a Journey to the East staff member and transferred to your hotel. (You can get to Fukuoka by rail or air, please ask Journey to the East staff about your options.)
Day 2: Fukuoka - Cherry Blossom
Today your guided tour of Kyushu’s capital, Fukuoka, will start with some of the favourite spots for cherry blossom viewing. You will have the opportunity to see Tenjin, a huge underground modern city, check out the markets and Kushida shrine. For lunch today, you can try the popular Japanese noodle dish – ramen. Dinner is at a Michelin star rated restaurant, well-fitting as a start of a food tour of Japan.
Day 3: Dazaifu
Today’s day trip is to Dazaifu. Established in the 7th century, Dazaifu served as the capital of Kyushu for around 500 years. A quiet and smaller place on the outskirts of Fukuoka its one-time splendor is still obvious. The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the most famous of the many temples and shrines in the area. Also located in Dazaifu is the very impressive modern National Museum.
Dinner will introduce another famous food culture, “yatai”- mobile restaurant on a cart. Each yatai seats only 10 and they have a great atmosphere. It is an ultimate food encounter you cannot miss.
Day 4: Fukuoka
You can't expect someone else to do all the work. So today at our fun-filled cooking class you will prepare your own lunch. The fresh ingredients and guidance from your tutor will enable you to create a masterpiece that will go towards your selection and presentation of the 2019 Iron Stomach award (see the last day).
Work is done and its time for the next adventure. We head for the brewery for a guided tour of the famous Japanese beer making process. A demonstration of how to pour the perfect glass of beer precedes the quenching of your thirst as you tasting the freshly brewed beer and dinner.
Day 5: Itoshima
You leave Fukuoka and your first stop is a trendy agricultural town called Itoshima. You will firstly visit a family run soy sauce brewery. There you will witness the passion of the owner, who persistently employs the traditional production method.
Then you are off to a local market and lunch where you can talk to the chef and farmer who grew the vegetables you are eating. In the afternoon, it is another special treat as you head way off the beaten track to family-run salt farm. where salt is extracted from the sea using an ancient method.
Then it is time for yet another experience when you get to Karatsu where nearby the Sea of Genkai will be the source of the freshest of seafood at dinner.
Day 6: Arita & Imari
Today changes the perspective of the foodies slightly, from contents to containers. You will explore the fine Japanese art of ceramics and porcelains. Arita and Imari are world-renowned for their excellent tableware and today you will have a chance to visit some of the kilns. Explore Okawachiyama region and learn about the techniques of feudal-era potters.
Tonight you will stay well known city of Nagasaki. Dinner tonight is a speciality of Nagasaki called ‘champon’.
Day 7: Nagasaki
Nagasaki was the only area open to the rest of the world during Japan’s closed-door policy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today you will see the evidence of European and Asian influence in every corner of this vibrant city. Nagasaki is also excellent at blending those different cultures and well placed to offer a fusion in food cultures. You will visit a fish wholesaler to view freshest seafood being prepared for supplying to restaurants. (Nagasaki has the second largest catch of seafood in Japan.)
The Glover Garden, Oura Catholic Church (Japan’s oldest church), and Dejima (an island constructed in the 1600 to keep foreigners isolated from the rest of Japan) are all on the list for today.
More recent history made Nagasaki known around the world for being the second atomic bomb target during the World War II. You will visit Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park this afternoon.
Day 8: Nagasaki
In the morning you have some free time to explore this very livable city.
In the afternoon we make our way to the Shimabara Peninsula, a historically and naturally rich region of Kyushu. When you reach Unzen, you will take a walk through the bubbling jigoku (geothermal hot springs) for a very surreal experience. Tonight you will certainly see a benefit that geothermal activity brings – enjoy an onsen or mineral hot spring bath, in a traditional ryokan with a beautiful Japanese garden.
Day 9: Shimabara & Unzen
You set out to cross the the Nita-Toge pass where on a clear day you will have wonderful views across Ariake Sea to our next key destination Kumamoto prefecture. On the way you will pause to visit Shimabara Castle, samurai residence area and Mount Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall to learn about the volcanic eruption occurred in 1990.
Later you will take a ferry across the sea to Kumamoto.
Day 10: Kumamoto
Today’s guided tour of Kumamoto with take in one of Japan’s very best and most picturesque castles. The impressive Kumamoto Castle has origins date back to the 1600s. The grounds of this spectacular icon also offer one of the very best cherry blossom viewing spots.
There is much to see in Kumamoto prefecture including the Suizenji gardens, former residence of a highly ranked samurai.
Tonight dinner is at a local Italian restaurant. The owner chef uses freshest Kumamoto produce to create world class dishes.
Day 11: Kagoshima
Start with the bullet train from Kumamoto for a day trip to Kagoshima.
To the far south of Kyushu island is Kagoshima, a world of its own. The Sengen-en Gardens with varieties of trees, flowers and cherry blossom was the former residence of a feudal lord and meticulously maintained to the present day.
We will take a cruise around Kinko-wan Bay with a magnificent view to Sakurajima Island. The bullet train will whisk us back to Kumamoto for the night.
Day 12: Yufuin
We set out for Yufuin today. It is a resort town on a river basin surrounded by mountains. We will walk through the rural scenes and see a wonderful display of cherry blossom lining the river bank. You will have a chance to wander through the village with its coffee shops and the like.
Tonight we will sample a beautifully prepared dinner with a variety dishes to tantalise the taste buds.
Day 13: Yame & Tanushimaru
This morning we visit Yame, which is Japan’s premier green tea producing area. Then on to admire the acres of brilliant green tea plantation from a lookout before tasting some of the finest tea and learning how to brew perfect green tea. While you are in the mood for training your taste buds we will move to Tanushimaru to try something else Japan is famous for. Of course, we are talking about sake (Japanese rice wine), tasting it at a local boutique sake brewery. You will be escorted through the brewery by the brewery staff and discuss the sake making with them. Getting this close to the brewing process is a very special experience.
Then it is time to return to Fukuoka for a farewell. The farewell dinner on this tour is always a lot of fun as our Spring 2019 Iron Stomach award will be announced at the dinner – good luck!
Day 14: Departure
After breakfast at hotel the tour concludes. Please ask us for your options to return back to your home country from Fukuoka or continue your travel in Japan.
The itinerary is indicative only. Actual activities may differ.
More about this popular foodies tour
Some of the best wide-ranging experiences are found off the beaten track. Large vehicles like buses can’t access where you are going so the group is limited to 8 people. We’ll introduce you to the people who create the food, the small, generations old, local food producers. We’ll show you how to brew perfect green tea. We’ll give you the freshest of food, straight from the farms and the sea.
This food tour of Japan aims to ensure there is also ample sightseeing. It includes one of Japan’s very best castle, Japan’s foremost ceramic museum, some superb examples of Japan’s temples and shrines plus it is set when they are at their very best – at cherry blossom time. The 2019 Food and Cherry blossom Tour also includes Japanese gardens, history and natural wonders like volcanoes. Come and join us on this extraordinary tour in 2019 spring in Kyushu. It is the best tour of Japan for foodies and you will see the cherry blossom too.
Keen followers of Japanese food may have heard that Japanese cuisine is called washoku. The cuisine is listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The secrets to the recipe of washoku are fresh ingredients and delicate flavour. It all comes together with exquisite presentation topped off with a huge dose of passion (aka obsession!)
In celebration of washoku Journey to the East launched this 2019 Food and Cherry blossom Tour of Kyushu – Japan. As the name suggests, it is again staged on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Kyushu is a food producers’ heaven with its milder climate, fertile soil, and the rich Sea of Genkai. On the one island, you can enjoy everything from top quality wagyu beef to premier sake, super juicy fruits and the finest green tea.
Does not include:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)