Japan Sushi to Sake
||Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Becoming a sushi chef, or itamae, as they're known in Japan, is no mean feat. An apprentice must work for four to five years under the supervision of a master before they're considered experienced enough to even prepare the rice. It can take up to 10 years for an apprentice to gain the title of itamae and be placed in front of their own cutting board.
Why we love it:
- Japan, a country steeped in mythical traditions and modern wonders. This journey uncovers the highlights of this fascinating country.
- Like the history, the country is varied and diverse: from the ancient cities like Kyoto to one of the holiest mountains in Japan, Koya-San.
- This trip will take you from the historically relevant city of Hiroshima, to the beautifully preserved village of Tsumago, to the bustling futuristic city of Tokyo.
- The rich variety of the country is unveiled as you visit temples, castles, shrines and holy mountains while mixing with locals and experiencing the real Japan through nights in family run ryokans.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1-3: Tokyo
Accommodation: Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar , Tokyo
- Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan.
- A pre-trip briefing will be held in the evening, to meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary.
- Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine notice board, located near the hotel lifts, which will provide your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of the meeting.
- Keep in mind that you will need to have your insurance details on hand at this meeting.
- The first stop of your food adventure is Shinjuku's Memory Lane (aka Piss Alley). A bustling street filled with busy restaurants and tiny bars. Gaining infamy as the black market drinking quarter in the 1940s, Memory Lane is now the best location to sample Tokyo’s beloved ‘fast food’. Yakitori is but one of the many exciting culinary options of offer here.
- You will then visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where you can enjoy stunning evening views across this eclectic and vibrant city from the observation deck.
- You will awake early and travel to the famed Tsukiji Fish Market to watch the live auction that happens daily (except Sunday and national holidays) at 5.20am. If the auction is particularly busy, it may be closed to visitors. With over 400 varieties of seafood are available at the market, it is considered the biggest wholesale seafood market in the world.
- To sate your appetite for the wonderful fresh fish you’ve been surrounded by all morning, you will sit down to a sushi breakfast in one of the restaurants near the market after the auction. This may be the freshest sushi you will ever eat!
- There are a number of excellent shops in the area specialising in Japanese kitchen gadgets, if you fancy trying your hand at Japanese cuisine at home, this is a great place to get started.
- While in the capital you will also have the opportunity to visit a sumo stable, where you can watch wrestlers in their morning practice. If the stables are closed to the public, a substitute activity will be arranged.
- Back to the important business of food though, Day 2 will progress with a visit to a rice wholesaler, where you will learn about the many varieties of rice available from all across Japan. Tokyo dwellers often choose to eat the rice grown in their hometown, and these wholesalers exist to meet this demand.
- From here you will visit a local farmers market before exploring a local basement depachika.
- Learning the art of making Japan’s famed buckwheat soba noodles is the perfect way to work up an appetite for the soba lunch that will follow.
- You will then spend the afternoon exploring Asakusa, an old part of Tokyo that has a street essentially dedicated to shops supplying the local restaurant industry. It is aptly named Kappabashi-dori (or Kitchen Town). This is a great place to get your hands on obscure kitchen implements and sample some of Japan’s famed sweets.
- No visit to Japan would be complete without sampling sake. A visit to a local sake brewery will fulfill this requirement. You will learn how sake is made, what food it is best paired with, regional differences and its historical significance. Of course you will be able to enjoy a taste as well.
- You will finish the day with a free evening to discover your own Japanese gastronomic delights. You can choose to indulge at one of Japan’s better known fine dining establishments, or simply bunker down at a local izakaya.
- If you are interested, your tour leader will be able to point you in the direction of one of Tokyo’s chic underground whiskey bars for a nightcap.
Day 4-5: Nikko
Meals included: 1 dinner
Accommodation: Asunaro Ryokan or similar, Nikko
- Nikko is one of Japan’s most sacred sites, with an abundance of important temples and shrines dotted through the area with a backdrop of revered and feared mountains – home of the gods and demons. This is the perfect contradiction to bustling Tokyo, a blissful escape into Japan of old.
- You will visit Tosho-gu Shrine - an elaborate and intricate mausoleum known for its impressive woodcarvings and gold detailing, and you will also visit the final resting place of a Tokugawa shogun.
- You will of course have the opportunity to sample some local, rural cuisine, as well some local sake. Soaking in a traditional onsen is also an option here.
Day 6-7: Mount Koya San
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Rengejo Inn or similar, Koya San
- From Nikko you will head to Koya-san, the centre of Shingon Buddhism for over 1, 200 years, and home to more than 120 temples that are spread across the mountain peak.
- Staying in a local Monastery offers a new and unique perspective, as well as expansive mountain views. Aside from the incredible Zen meditation here, you will have the opportunity to try some devotion food.
- You will also visit a 1000 year-old cemetery here, as well as the largest rock garden in Japan.
Day 8-10: Kyoto
Accommodation: New Miyako Hotel or similar , Kyoto
- A city of great diversity, Kyoto is part concrete jungle, part cultural hub. Once the nation’s capital, Kyoto enjoyed its golden age during the imperial court’s heyday between 794 and 1185. Kyoto is home to an abundance of historical sites, cultural landmarks and a rich traditional art and literature scene.
- You will have the opportunity to learn more about the geisha culture of the city, as well as visiting one if the city’s 16,000 Buddhist temples.
- Better still, you will visit the Nishiki market, where you can experience the local food culture first hand. You can try anything from mochi (rice cakes), fugu (puffer fish), and tsukemono (Japanese pickles) to raw oysters with cold beer here.
- You will finish the day with a trip to a local sake brewery, where you gain a comprehensive insight in to this ancient and potent conversation starter.
Day 11-12: Osaka
Accommodation: Unizo Yodoyabashi Hotel or similar, Osaka
- From ancient Kyoto, you will head to bustling Osaka. A city known for its exceptional cuisine, sprawling shopping hubs, and heaving tiny restaurants and bars tucked into winding backstreets.
- Takoyaki (octopus balls), are one of the many local specialties, along with deep fried kebabs and a vibrant after dark scene – this is the perfect place to get your final fix of Japanese food.
- With a myriad of shops, museums, and modern sights on offer, Osaka is a wonderful place to wander the streets and immerse yourself in modern Japanese culture. Kampai!
- Peregrine tour leader
- Local guides
- Sightseeing and entrance fees
Some meals are included on your trip (except for North America trips - please refer to your day-to-day itinerary). However, sometimes we think you'll benefit from getting out and discovering the local cuisine. So when a meal is not included, it's a great opportunity to try something new. For group trips, ask your leader for tips on where to get the best meal, or you might decide to dine out as a group and experience the fun together.
- International flights
- Departure taxes
- Arrival and departure transfer
- Other meals
- Optional additional tours or activities during free time
- Items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
We have chosen some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. For group trips, speak to your leader if you are interested in any of the following:
- Matsumoto - Matsumoto-Jo (castle) - Y500 ($US7)
- Miyajima - Itsukushima-Junja (shrine) - Y300 ($US4)
- Miyajima - Mt.Misen cable car - one way/return - Y1000/1800 ($US 13/24)
Y1000/1800 ($US 13/24)
- Tokyo - Kabuki Perfromance at Kabuka-za
Y2500-Y17000 ( $US30 - US250)
- Tokyo - Senso-Ji - Free
- Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market - Free
- Tokyo - Ueno-Koen - Free
- Tokyo - Yaksukuni-Jinja Yushukan (war memorial museum) - Y800 ( $US10)
What to know
Please note that a reasonable level of fitness is required for this trip. A lot of time is spent on foot exploring the cities/towns, you will also find yourself jumping on and off public transport when making your way in-between sites within a city. This is the most time efficient way to travel within a city in Japan. Should you have any concerns on the fitness level required on this trip please contact your travel agent.
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region.
Visas and Permits
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Generally, visitors who are not planning to engage in income-producing activities while in Japan are exempt from obtaining visas and will be issued a tanki-taizai visa (temporary visitor visa) on arrival.
Stays of up to six months are permitted for citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK. Citizens of these countries will almost always be given a 90-day temporary visitor visa upon arrival, which can usually be extended for another 90 days at immigration bureaux inside Japan.
Citizens of the USA, Australia and New Zealand are granted 90-day temporary visitor visas, while stays of up to three months are permitted for citizens of Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and a number of other countries.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in.
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
• The Roads to Sata: A 2000-mile Walk Through Japan by Alan Booth • Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan by Alan Booth • Hitch-hiker's Guide to Japan by Will Ferguson • Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology by Steven D. Carter • One Man's Justice by Akira Yoshimura • The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen • Fruits by Shoichi Aoki • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden • Out by Natsuo Kirino • The temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima • Tokyo Rising – the City since the Great Earthquake by Edward Seidensticker • Unbeaten tracks in Japan by Isabella Bird • Lost Japan by Alex Kerr • Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr • The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict
Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative Venture can be reached on +81 (80) 3012 9269
Due to the style of accommodation on our tours it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights on the overnight trains, homestays, Longhouses, village huts, mountain huts, rainforest lodges ,on hill tribe treks, on boats, Camp 5 in Sarawak, Iban Longhouse, ryokan’s and on the Kokoda Track. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
Fitness and transport within Japan
Please note that a reasonable level of fitness is required for this trip. A lot of time is spent on walking tours around a city or town so it is very important to have comfortable walking shoes (please see what to pack list). Given the reliable public transport in Japan your leader will take you on a bus/train to get between sites during the day. Please contact your travel agent should you have any concerns with regards to your fitness level on this trip.
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
20 February 2014
General Contact Details
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