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Gastronomic adventure with InsideJapan

Japanophilia: a love and appreciation of all things Japanese. Or more accurately, Japanophillia = my husband. Also known in Japanese as a 'shinnichi'.

Japan is an incredible, enormously varied and diverse country stretching over 3,000 km from the quasi-Siberian snowscapes of Hokkaido to the subtropical beaches and mangrove forests of Okinawa.

Spend a day here and you’ll soon start thinking: “Why can't it be like this at home?”

The streets look like they have been cleaned by Kim and Aggie, the trains run with military precision, and simple activities such as bathing and drinking tea have been elevated to high culture.

What’s more, the Japanese people are some of the most gracious, charming, welcoming people you'll ever meet.

And OMG, the food!

I could wax lyrical about Japanese food for hours. I defy any visitor to return from a trip here without an insatiable taste for its local cuisine.

From the finest Michelin starred restaurants to the most informal of izakaya (Japanese pubs), you will not go hungry and Japanese cuisine, or washoku, has recently been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

And let's not forget the drink. The Japanese have turned a humble cup of green tea into a cherished art form, while sake, the indigenous brew made from fermented rice, is great fun to drink from tiny porcelain cups.

So, when deciding the trips that I most wanted to inspire my gourmet loving clients with, a gastronomic adventure to the land of the rising sun had to make the final cut.

I wanted to pick one sample itinerary to feature that focuses entirely on taking a gastronomic journey across Japan and this is one of my favourites from brilliant Japanese specialists, InsideJapan Tours.

13 Nights: from £4410 per person (twin share) This gastronomic adventure begins in Tokyo before journeying through the Japanese Alps to the cultural capital of Kyoto, with stays at traditional ryokan inns and a Buddhist temple lodging along the way. There will be a mouth-watering array of food opportunities and experiences in every location.

You will eat out in a typical izakaya - Japan's idiosyncratic take on pub dining. These lively establishments are the preferred after-work dinner spot for Japan's legions of salarymen, and you will be accompanied to help translate the menu and explain the all-important dining etiquette! You will also be taken on a guided lunchtime safari through the capital's best ramen joints.

In Osaka, you'll be treated to a mouth-watering guided evening tour of the city's street food.

In Kyoto, you'll visit a typical Japanese house for a lesson in Japanese home cooking, whilst in Matsumoto you'll try your hand at making the local speciality, soba noodles, before checking out the town's impressive 'Black Crow' castle.

Aside from the foodie experiences, there will be plenty of time to explore the many sides of Tokyo, discover the charms of traditional towns in the Japanese Alps, get in touch with your spiritual side at Mount Koya and wonder at the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sights in the historic capital of Kyoto.

Throughout the trip, reservations in advance can be made to eat at the best restaurants and I have lots of reliable recommendations for great places to eat across the whole country from Michelin star sushi restaurants to tiny standing bars and street food stalls that only the locals know. From sushi to Kobe beef, from ramen to yakitori, from green tea Kit-Kats to sake.

This country is one of a kind and any foodie's holy grail. If you have yet to desire a trip to Japan, give me a call and prepare to have your mind changed. Until then, I'll sign off, before you end up with a 10-day meal plan filled with Japanese edibles.

#Tokyo #Kyoto #gastronomy

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