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810 S Spring St. #1204
Los Angeles, CA, 90014
United States

Tour Calendar

On this personal tour for eight adventurous food lovers, Yoko will take you on a journey to explore historical festivals, community events and locally acclaimed restaurants. She created the tour to share the best parts of rural Japan during its best season.  Most importantly, you will know what every one of her friends knows: Wherever Yoko goes, tasty morsels will follow!

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Spring Tour 2018


NEW: 2018 itinerary will be sent upon request. We split the tour into two parts for 2018 Spring.  Tour 1: From April 7th to 11th, Tour 2: April 11th to April 15th. You can join both or just half of the tour.

Features

  • Travel beautiful rural Japan during cherry blossom season.  For flexibility and to avoid heavy traffic, we have our own car service for 4 consecutive days for the first tour and the first day of the second part of the tour.

  • Taste the umami-loaded regional Aka-miso dishes while visiting one of the oldest Miso breweries from the 14th century.

  • Inhale the aromas of a “sweets sanctuary”. La Collina is a year-old facility where we will see the craftwork of and taste Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets and cakes.

  • Explore Ohmi Hachiman, the equivalent of Bruges in Japan.  Formerly a wealthy merchants’ town in the 17th Century, beautiful canals link Lake Biwa, the castle and the old town.  The architecture presents photogenic sceneries around every corner.

  • Visit the nationally-acclaimed Mino Pottery Barn and Kitchen Knife store.  It’s an essential visit to truly experience the biggest and greatest industry of this region.

  • Attend the 383rd Inuyama Matsuri, a seasonal night festival at the old castle town of Inuyama where we’ll see 13 lantern-decorated floats pulled by manpower.

Day 1:  Saturday 4/7/2018 (Okazaki/Inuyama)  [Tour Part 1]

We will meet at the designated point at Nagoya Station in the morning.  [We recommend you to ship your luggage directly to the Isaji Residence to allow for traveling the whole without heavy luggage. Our staff will help you to arrange this]  From Nagoya station, we’ll take a half hour train to Okazaki, where we will learn the process for making the fragrant red miso called “Haccho-Miso.”  Nagoya and its surrounding area used to be called Mikawa-Owari; this is the origin of regionally-famous red miso dishes like miso katsu, miso udon and doteni.  In fact, today is the day for tasting the cuisine Nagoya is known for.  We’ll head to Inuyama’s old town district and stroll through the lantern-hung floats on display throughout town. (As it often rains over this festival weekend, we'll be flexible and may visit the festival the next day.)

  • Accommodation: Isaji Residence in Seki, Gifu                                                    

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour fee after Nagoya Station

  • Lunch - Several small plates will be purchased for tasting. (You may purchase more street foods at the Sakura Festival)

  • Dinner at Isaji Residence: Included

  • Other costs: Ship your luggage directly to the Isaji residence the previous night or the morning of departure.

 

Day 2:  Sunday 4/8/2018 (Magome - Tajimi, Gifu) [Tour Part 1]

We will spend the morning in Magome, strolling a historical road surrounded by well-preserved hostels and shops from the 18th century.  This road is known as “Nakasendo” and passes through a mountainous area called Kiso, where high-quality wooden products are still made by hand.  If you’re looking to buy any Japanese wooden cookware and tableware, this is the place to shop. For lunch, we are driving to the "middle of nowhere" on the map which hides some restaurants that are well-known among Japanese epicureans. Yanagiya restaurant offers not a "farm-to -table" concept but rather a "Mountain-to-table". We will find out what the season and nature will offer that day. It will be a memorable meal for sure. After lunch, we'll spend the late afternoon strolling the old district of Tajimi, Oribe-streets, where you can find chic tableware stores, antique stores and galleries that showcase Mino-pottery. We will have a casual dinner near our residence where we recommend ordering "Yuzu-ramen". (We may go to Inuyama for the night festival depending on the weather)

  • Accommodation: Isaji Residence in Seki, Gifu.                                                     

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour fee.

  • Breakfast: Included

  • Lunch at Yanagiya: Included (Drink is not included)

  • Dinner: Included (Drink is not included)

 

Day 3:   Monday 4/9/2018 (Ohmihachiman & Hikone, Shiga) [Tour Part 1]

Lake Biwa and its surrounding towns have as old and rich a history as Kyoto.  Today we’ll drive a little over an hour to visit two towns in Shiga prefecture, Hikone and Omi-Hachiman. We’ll approach the Hikone castle from the old town district, through water-filled fortification where you'll see a beautiful reflection of cherry blossoms. We'll walk up to the castle where you can look down at Lake Biwa and its surrounding towns. You'll see why this lake has been called "Umi-Ocean in Japanese" by the locals.  Then we’ll drive down to Omi-Hachiman to enjoy the canal boat ride and the bento box prepared with local specialties. After strolling the old town and wandering along canals, we head to “La Collina” to observe wagashi-making and of course tasting some if you can.  After having a dinner in Shiga, we'll head back to Gifu.

  • Accommodation: Isaji Residence in Seki, Gifu.                                                     

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour fee.

  • Breakfast & Lunch: Included,  (Before taking a boat ride, buy your own drink from a vending machine)

  • Boat riding at Omi-Hachiman: Included in the tour

  • Dinner Restaurant TBA: Included, Drink is not included and will be charged separately.

 

Day 4:  Tuesday 4/10/2018 Gifu, Gifu [Tour Part 1]

We start our day visiting small sake brewery known for producing aged sake for the last few decades. The owner is a true pioneer when it comes to aged sake, and he can't help talking about it with passion. After the morning aged sake tasting, we'll be ready to visit the 1,500 year old cherry trees. If we are lucky, we will see the full bloom of Usuzumi Zakura, one of the three oldest cherry trees in Japan. There is another temple, nearly as old as the cherry tree, worth paying a visit: Kegonji. After strolling old town and the park in Gifu city, dinner will be served at a beautiful old steakhouse.  Expect to have one of the best teppanyaki experiences you can imagine.

  • Accommodation: Isaji Residence in Seki, Gifu.                                                     

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour.

  • Breakfast & Lunch: Included. The lunch box will be a light meal. You are encouraged to try the food vendors at the Cherry blossom festival

  • Dinner at Senryu Steak House: Included  (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

 

Day 5: Wednesday 4/12/2018  (Hida, Gifu - Noto, Ishikawa)  [Tour Part 1: End after breakfast]

 

[Tour Part 2]  Hokuriku

Tour Features

  • Our featured meals include: Wajima morning market's grilled fish breakfast, well-known Himi Seaport's best seafood supper at a Japanese inn, a farm-to-table French restaurant, and the breath-taking Kaga Kaiseki cuisine.

  • We will explore the rich regional history of craftsmanship: Wajima lacquer in Ishikawa. Glassware in Toyama. Discover beautiful tableware and sake serving sets that make great souvenirs that you can buy for yourself or as a special gift.

  • Visits to modern architecture works on the tour include the Toyama glass museum and library by Kengo Kuma and The 21st Century Museum by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. The historical architecture we will learn about include: The national treasure Zuiryuji-Temple from Edo period to the Michelin one star awarded Nomura residence and its beautiful garden.

 

Day 5:  Wednesday 4/12/2018 (Hida, Gifu - Noto, Ishikawa) [Tour Part 2]

Taking just a small travel bag, we’ll depart for the Hida/Hokuriku region for 4 days. We’ll be starting off from the furthest point we can reach, Wajima City at the tip of the Noto Peninsula. On the way there, we'll stop by the Unesco World Heritage site Shirakawa-go village and then have an unforgettable lunch at L'evo, the farm-to-table French restaurant that serves its food on  dishware created by local artists. Once we arrive at Wajima, best known for its morning market and  Wajima lacquer, we will explore the shops and museums.

  • Accommodation: Japanese Inn at Wajima City, Ishikawa                         

  • Transportation costs: All included in the tour.

  • Breakfast: Included.

  • Lunch at L'evo: Included. (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

  • Dinner at Tsushima: Included  (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

 

Day 6: Thursday 4/13/2018 (Wajima - Kanazawa, Ishikawa) [Tour Part 2]

After enjoying breakfast at Wajima morning market where you will buy your own seafood and have it cooked over charcoal, we'll head to the city of Kanagawa. Kanagawa has a rich history of food and culture as it was ruled by the wealthy Lord Maeda clan for centuries during the Edo period (17th to mid 19th C). Considered the cultural hub of the Hokuriku region, there are many sites to see including Samurai house,  beautiful Japanese garden, and the contemporary museum.  The regional cuisine is called Kaga Ryouri. It is much like Kaiseki cuisine embracing regional vegetables and seafood with a breath-taking presentation.

  • Accommodation: Daiwa Hotel in Kanazawa city, Ishikawa                         

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour.

  • Breakfast: Not Included. Please buy your own at the morning market.

  • Lunch at Ohmicho-Market: Not Included. There are many choices in this market from sushi to regional dishes. You can snack on many small dishes from each vendor, too.

  • Dinner at Kaiseki Restaurant: Included  (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

 

Day 7: Friday 4/14/2018  Kanazawa - Toyama [Tour Part 2]

After breakfast in Kanazawa, we'll be heading to Toyama, one of the most renowned fishery ports located along the shore of Toyama. We'll enjoy sushi lunch and seafood tempura for dinner. Between meals, we'll walk to Zuiryuji Zen Buddhism temple built in the early 17th century which is now recognized as a national treasure. We will also visit the glass museum in Toyama as the city is known for its glasswork. You will probably find lots to buy in this region as there are numerous great local designers and craftsmen.

  • Accommodation: Excel Tokyu Hotel, Toyama                       

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour.

  • Breakfast: Not Included.

  • Lunch at Sushi Kin: Included. (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

  • Dinner at Tempura Takano: Included.  (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

 

Day 8: Saturday 4/14/2018   [Tour Part 2]

Leaving Toyama after breakfast, we'll be spending a day in Takayama at its Spring festival. If we’re lucky, we may get to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.  If not, the festival is always still gorgeous with festive foods.

  • Accommodation: Isaji Residence in Seki, Gifu.                                          

  • Transportation costs all included in the tour.

  • Breakfast: Not Included.

  • Lunch: Not Included. 

  • Dinner: Included.  (Drink is not included and will be charged separately)

 

Day 9: Sunday 4/15/2018 [Tour Part 2]

After breakfast, we’ll help you depart for your next destination. We can arrange for your suitcases and souvenir boxes to be delivered directly to the airport.

  • Breakfast: Included

  • Seki Knife Shops Visit (Upon request): No fee will be added. Because Seki is known for its long history of making swords and knives, it would be a shame to miss out!

  • There is also the Mino Hanamikoshi Festival.

  • Transportation costs for your next destination: Not included