Kyoto is an interesting city for food travelers. Many people explore Kyoto, Japan, for its temples and geisha culture. But there is a unique history of cuisine in Kyoto and it’s a great city for food and drink travelers. Booking a food tour in Kyoto can help people who travel for food to eat better and learn more. In this post, I share our recommendations on how to book one of the best Kyoto food tours. And, I share our tips on how to make the most of your experience.
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Why Book A Japan Culinary Tour
There are lots of great reasons why booking a Japanese food tour could make your Kyoto trip that much more special. First, there is a language barrier in Japan. Of course, there are picture menus to help you with ordering but we end up with more questions than answers when we are on our own eating in Japan. A food tour will help you learn more about the cuisine.
A local Kyoto tour guide will also help with the second issue, Japanese cuisine is complex and layered. It’s so different from American or European cuisine. By taking a food tour, your guide will help you learn more about the Japanese food culture, which is important in Kyoto.
Last, we love taking food tours at the start of our stay in a new city. It really makes the rest of our trip better. Your guide will give you inside tips on where and what to eat in Kyoto too. Over the years, we’ve received great restaurant recommendations from some of our food tour guides.
If you need help planning your trip to Japan, check out our sample itineraries:
Japan 7 Day Itinerary – How To Spend One Week Eating In Japan
Food Focused Two Week Japan Itinerary – 14 Days Of Eating Well
How About A 12 Day Food Tour In Japan?
If you are looking for something more than just an Osaka one day tour, Intrepid Travel offers a 12 day Real Food Adventure In Japan. It hits some of our favorite food cities in the Kansai region of Japan. That includes Osaka, Kyoto, and Koyosan in Wakayama, which is just south of Osaka. Along the way, travelers learn to make sushi, eat street food, and stay the night in a Buddhist monastery. These are all food experiences we’ve had in Japan and would totally recommend.
How To See The Best Of Kyoto Japan On A Food Tour
A great food tour means that you can start to understand Japanese food culture while exploring a new city. It is more than just the food that is served. It means you have the chance to meet locals, ask loads of questions, and learn about the history and culture of a new city. It’s one of our favorite ways to see a city! In this post, we share our recommended food tours in Kyoto.
All pricing is provided in Japanese yen. This helps you plan your budget based on the current currency rates. With some tours, pricing will adjust based on how many people have already booked, how many people are in your party, and the time of year.
We recommend using Viator for booking food tours and experiences. We like Viator for a few reasons. One, we’ve used them for tours around the world without any problems. Second, you will receive immediate confirmation of your booking. Last, Viator is a reputable company that is actually owned by TripAdvisor, so if there are any issues with your booking, there is a big company standing behind the booking.
Trying Saba Sushi In Kyoto
Arigato Japan Food Tours in Kyoto
Explore Kyoto’s Pontocho and Gion Shirakawa districts from a local’s perspective during this three hour evening tour. Navigate ancient streets with your knowledgeable guide while stopping at local restaurants and tea houses to taste traditional dishes. Learn about the local culture and history of this part of Kyoto.
The three-hour tour accommodates up to ten guests providing a customized experience. Along the way, the tour pass by several iconic sites in Kyoto, including shrines, temples, and markets. Five food and drink stops are made during the tour providing guests with a taste of seasonal Kyoto dishes.
Vegetarian options are available but the tour is not advisable for vegans or those with gluten restrictions. Any dietary requirements should be made at the time of booking. Pricing for the tour starts from ¥16500.
Book This Kyoto Evening Tour here.
Why we like this tour:
Kyoto is a beautiful city full of back streets and alleyways often overlooked by travelers. Getting out of the main tourist areas with the help of a local guide is a great way to experience the day-to-day life of Kyoto’s residents. Additionally, the tour introduces travelers to several local dishes to try that they might not normally do on their own.
We took the Arigato tour during our trip to Kyoto. We learned so much about the food in Kyoto. They promised to offer up dishes we never would have tried on our own and they delivered. Our guide was so knowledgeable and we left fully stuffed for sure!
Tasty Sake Tasting Tour In Kyoto
Sake Tasting Tour In Kyoto
Sake is the quintessential Japanese drink. Unlike any other alcoholic beverage in the world, sake can also be very difficult to understand. During this three hour sake tasting tour in Kyoto, drinkers will travel to the Fushimi Sake District of Kyoto. Guests will gain a better understanding of sake, its history, and of course how it tastes.
The experience includes a sake brewery tour in Kyoto at the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. At the brewery, guests learn the sake brewing process. After, they enjoy a tasting session of ten different sake accompanied by Japanese snacks. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the different sake brews and flavors, from dry to sweet to fruity.
Starting at ¥8600 per person, the tour accommodates up to 12 guests. The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. Guest under 20 are welcome but will not be served sake. Vegetarian options are available during the tour but prior notice is requested at the time of booking.
Book this sake tour in Kyoto here.
Why we like this tour:
For travelers looking to learn more about sake during their trip to Japan, this is the tour to take. From understanding more about sake’s history, brewing process, and how to order it, travelers will walk away from this tour with a much better understanding of this iconic Japanese beverage.
We took this tour while in Kyoto and I enjoyed it. The best part was learning how to taste sake, which included an explanation about how to read the labels on the sake bottles. Yes, we learned how to interpret the Japanese characters on a bottle to be able to order sake.
Kyoto Private Tours For Food Lovers
Nishiki Market is the heart and soul of food in Kyoto. This three hour private tasting tour walks you through one of Japan’s most famous food markets. Your Japanese food specialist guide will share insight into Kyoto’s world-renowned culinary offerings.
Sampling local food specialties along the way, the tour takes you into the center of Kyoto’s multi-layered food scene. While exploring the food inside Nishiki Market, witness the numerous vendors selling kitchenware and knives as well as fresh produce and packed goods.
The private tour of Nishiki Market is priced starting at ¥28000 including a full Japanese lunch. During the tour, the guide will navigate the many back alleys of Nishiki Market leading to numerous stalls to taste local Kyoto dishes.
Book this Kyoto Private Food Tour here.
Why we like this tour:
Thanks to the intimate nature of the private tour, guests have a lot more time to ask questions and create a more customized experience. By the end of your private tour, a new and more complete understanding and appreciation of Kyoto cuisine will be achieved.
Small-Group Tour Of Nishiki Market With Lunch
For over 400 years, the Nishiki Food Market has been known by locals as the “Kitchen of Kyoto.” Packed with food vendors and merchants, it’s the culinary epicenter of the city. For outsiders navigating its many lanes and back alleyways is a challenge.
During this three hour small group tour, your local guide will lead you through Nishiki Market, sampling local dishes and street food in Kyoto. With a maximum of ten guests per tour, there are plenty of opportunities to ask questions about the cuisine of Kyoto and most importantly plenty of food.
The price for the tour begins at ¥16000. Along the way, the tour will visit 12 family-owned shops, to taste the flavors of Kyoto. The highlight of the tour is a seven-course lunch including Japanese tea. During lunch, the local guide will explain in detail about each dish, giving you a better sense of these Kyoto specialties. Vegetarian and pescatarian options are available. Prior notice is requested at the time of booking.
Book this Small Group Kyoto Market Tour here.
Why we like this tour:
The Kyoto food market can be intimidating. There are a lot of people and a lot of food, many of them unfamiliar to us. Taking a guided tour of the market can help explain everything. And, this is a great opportunity to meet the local shop owners as well.
Kyoto Tea Ceremony
One of the most beautiful and majestic culinary experiences in Japan is the Japanese tea ceremony. Rich in tradition and taking years to master, the tea ceremony defines Japanese dedication to perfection.
During this one hour private Japanese tea ceremony, your host, an apprentice geisha are also known as a “maiko” will guide you through the proper way to enjoy matcha green tea, the Japanese way. The maiko will provide a history of tea drinking in Japan as well as share a few traditional stories about how tea drinking became popular in Japan thanks in part to the samurai.
For those guests who want to fully immerse themselves in the traditional tea ceremony, there’s the option to dress up in a Japanese kimono. The private tea ceremony can accommodate up to 15 guests. The cost begins at ¥12500.
Book this Kyoto Tea Ceremony here.
Why we like this tour:
Tea drinking in Japan is an integral part of daily life and an important part of Japan’s history. Experiencing this tradition in a small group, private setting should be experienced by every traveler to Japan. It’s also a great way to learn about the culture of the geisha. It’s one of the best tours by locals in Kyoto.
Japanese Cooking Class In Kyoto
We love taking cooking classes when traveling. It’s a great way to learn about the local food culture. Plus, there’s the added bonus of learning new cooking techniques to bring home. Here are a few recommended options for travelers looking to book a Kyoto cooking class.
Sushi Making Class In Kyoto
Time to roll up your sleeve and become a sushi chef for the day. Well, ninety minutes. Follow the step-by-step instructions from your professional sushi instructor as you prepare ‘makizushi,’ a rolled form of sushi made with dried seaweed (nori).
Set in a ‘machiya’, a traditional Japanese townhouse near the city’s Imperial Palace, your sushi-making lesson concludes with a lunch consisting of your handmade sushi, miso soup, sumashi, Japanese salad, and dessert.
With a maximum of seven guests in the class, you are ensured a personalized experience that sets this sushi making class apart from others. The price for the class begins at ¥6500. The class is open to all, but for guests with food sensitivities, prior notification is requested. This class is a great experience for anyone who’s ever been interested in learning how to make sushi.
Book this sushi making class here.
Bento Box Cooking Class
Bento Box is a uniquely Japanese creation. Character Bento boxes are also known as ‘kyaraben’ even more so. Developed to help children eat homemade meals, Character Bento Boxes are great for grown-ups as well. This two-hour course teaches guests will learn about the history of bento and assemble their own.
Led by a local Kyoto restaurateur, the class starts with a brief history of bento boxes and the kyaraben characters. From here, the class of 10 guests will take their recipes and with a little help from the instructor, begin to assemble their bento box. Before digging into your bento box, guests are encouraged to photograph their masterpieces.
Pricing for the cooking class begins at ¥4500. Guests with any specific dietary requirements are asked to share at the time of booking. Guests will receive the recipe and detailed instructions in both printed and digital form.
Book this Kyoto Cooking Class here.
FAQS – HOW TO BOOK A FOOD TOUR IN KYOTO
We understand a lot of people travel to Kyoto for the temples. Booking a tour of the Kyoto temples is a great way to learn about the religion, history, and culture of the city. If looking for a tour that does not involve eating, check out this temple tour.
Comfortable shoes! Most food tours involve a lot of walking and standing. Also, wear comfortable clothing with layers, that means a rain jacket or umbrella during bad weather.
If you follow our Kyoto Food Guide you can eat well. But, you will be missing out on a lot of the history and culture of this city. Spending even two or three hours on a food tour is such a great way to learn more about a city and its culture – all while eating and drinking!
Check out our guide to ramen, which shares tips on how to find the best shops and how to make the most of the experience.
There are a wide range of food tours available in Kyoto. Some last for only a few hours. Others are a half or full day experience. Choosing one based on time will depend on how long you are spending in Kyoto. If you are there for only one day, it’s best to pick a tour that lasts only a couple of hours.