When it comes to finding food in Japan, we’re strong advocates for joining local food tours, as the enthusiasm from the local guides elevates the experience. It also allows you to discover places you’d NEVER find on your own! Plus, a local guide not only removes the language barrier but also gives valuable insight into the culture of the area.
You could wander the fish markets and streets of the city looking for the best food and drinks, but between the language barrier and amount of choices available, it can be difficult. So to get the most out of your time, try joining a food tour and let an expert set you up with the best cooking of your life.
NOTE: As the title says so, these are all walking food tours! So be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes.
- Guide to finding the best food & drink tour in Osaka & Kyoto
- Guide to finding the best pub crawl & bar-hopping tours in Tokyo
Japanese food terms to familiarize yourself with:
- izakaya – a traditional Japanese bar.
- okonomiyaki – a savory pancake.
- kawaii – cute.
- kampai! – cheers!
This first one is sort of a cheat since I’m recommending another article that goes further into depth about various bar hopping tours throughout Tokyo. But in short, when you’re looking for a good bar hopping tour, be sure to look at the details of the tour.
Tokyo Pub Crawl is geared towards the party-goers among you. Where beers are replaced with shots and mixed drinks. Whereas something like the Shibuya Bar Hopping Tour is for people looking to experience traditional Japanese bar food, sake, and izakaya. Both are great in their own ways, but one may be better suited to your personal needs.
This is a great tour for those of you visiting Japan, but not leaving the Tokyo area. In this tour, you will hop around 9 different shops within the COREDO Muromachi shopping complex in the historic Nihonbashi district, and taste traditional foods from all over Japan.
The best part of this tour is that it’s completely customizable to better suit your desires. They have a baseline tour package that only includes the tour, a souvenir, and sampling of the dishes. Or, you could add a lunch or dinner to the tour, where you can sample the food from the various regions of Japan, then select the restaurant from the one you enjoyed the most.
- Multiple food samples
- Lunch (With Lunch Option)
- Dinner (With Dinner Option)
- Cooking lesson (With Cooking Lesson Option)
If you’ve read our article where we discuss Tokyo Tourist Traps, then you’ll know that I deem Takeshita-Dori in Harajuku as a place to be mostly avoided. But Harajuku is far more than just one street, and this family-friendly tour takes you through the artsy and fashionable neighborhoods of this incredible district. And while it may end with a guided tour through Takeshita-Dori, the “guided” part makes the experience far more enjoyable.
The tour starts in Omotesando, where the knowledgeable and friendly guides will walk you down this modern, fashion-centric avenue, while defining what makes Japanese food one of the most unique in the world, along with describing the major differences between the regional foods of Japan.
The tour will then move through Harajuku’s maze of alleyways as you stop at shops offering sweets, crafts, and more. For those with little ones accompanying you, expect a stop at the famous Kiddy Land, a store filled to bursting with toys. Afterward, your guide will take you through the winding artistic alleyways on your way to a popular okonomiyaki shop for lunch. You’ll end in Takeshita-Dori, where you can explore the pop-fashion shops, find some of the most kawaii sweets you’ve ever seen, and finish the tour with delicious pastries or crepes.
- Lunch (Vegetarian options available).
- Guided tour through Harajuku, including Takeshita-Dori.
- Food and sweets tastings at various locations.
If the modern, artistic, and funky Harajuku tour doesn’t suit you, then perhaps joining the Asakusa Food tour is your best bet. Asakusa is a top attraction in Tokyo.
Nestled among the towering skyscrapers and busy streets of Tokyo lies Asakusa, offering a more traditional Japanese experience. With its beautiful temple grounds and nostalgic shops lining the road to its famous entrance gate, you could think you took a small step back in time; if not for the thousands of tourists surrounding you.
This tour highlights foods that are local favorites, such as green tea ice cream, pickles, rice crackers, and melon bread (named by its look, not from the use of melons). For those of you willing to try, you can enjoy a sashimi set lunch, with fish fresh from the Tsukiji market.
After a long day of walking through Asakusa, you will end your trip with a relaxing cup of green tea, straight from Kyoto, as your guide walks you through the basics of a Japanese tea ceremony.
- Lunch (Non-sashimi options available).
- Regional and seasonal snacks.
- A guided tour of the alleys and streets of Asakusa.
Although the famous tuna auction has moved to Toyosu, Tsukiji is still a much better place to learn about its history through a local foodie guide, as well as kickstarting your morning with a special seafood breakfast.
This tour is all about seafood, so if that’s not your thing, you may want to try a different tour. The tour starts the day off right, with a piping hot cup of coffee from Turret Coffee, your tour check-in point. From there you’ll travel to breakfast where you’ll devour seafood (fresh or cooked) at a local restaurant and hear a little history of the area from your guide.
After filling up on fish, prepare to walk it off as you visit the 65 specialty vendors who chose to remain in Tsukiji, and see how the tuna is prepared for selling. Still hungry? Try some fresh sashimi while you’re visiting the shops. You’ll be hard-pressed to find it fresher anywhere else. Afterward, stop into a 300-year-old shrine to receive a blessing (you may need one after all the food you ate!)
All good things must come to an end, and there are few better ways to end a food trip than with dessert, and this dessert is had in one of Japan’s most beautiful imperial gardens.
- Coffee (Coffee is always a plus)
- Specialty seafood breakfast.
- A guided tour through the market.
Shibuya is one of the best locations in Tokyo for foodies, and this tour makes that clear. While all the other tours on this list feature their locations as much as the food, in this tour the food takes center stage as every stop (except the meeting place) is a restaurant or food market of some kind.
Beginning near the world-famous Hachiko statue, you’ll start your tour with photos with the said loyal dog, or the also famous Shibuya Crossing. From here, the exact route of the tour is a surprise, but you can expect the following things.
After a short walk through Shibuya’s shopping streets, you’ll enjoy a meal of okonomiyaki from a shop that specializes in a Hiroshima style of the dish. From there you’ll have the opportunity to try either Kobe or Wagyu beef skewers. Both of which are famous in their own right, and are on the bucket lists of nearly every food tourist.
Moving on to lighter dishes, you’ll try 5-types of fresh sushi in a local hole-in-the-wall sushi shop. Then top it all off with taiyaki, a yummy dessert of two pancakes in the shape of fish sandwiching a sweet filling like custard or sweet bean paste. You’ll finish your tour in the Shibuya underground, at the Tokyo Food Show; a market where you can buy food or food souvenirs to bring with you back home.
- The food at every major stop along the tour path.
- Kobe or Wagyu beef skewers.
- A guided tour of the Tokyo Food Show.
For those of you looking for a night for food and drinks, but you’re not looking for a bar-hopping tour, then this night walk food tour is right up your alley. Here you will eat like the locals in Gado Shita, a back alley of small shops hidden beneath the train tracks.
Enjoy food and drinks from these retro restaurants, featuring traditional bar food and regional treats from Mie Prefecture. From my own experience, having a local guide in Gado Shita makes the night far better because you have so much to choose from it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Next, you’ll walk on to Ginza, where the retro feel or Gado Shita is replaced by modern streets and high-end fruit (yes, high-end fruit is a thing) which can cost hundreds of dollars for a single piece!
You’ll also visit a special restaurant specializing in cuisine from the Miyazaki Prefecture. Finally, you’ll visit Shimbashi and discover both sweet treats and traditional Japanese pub food in the local izakaya, while drinking with the locals. All-in-all, a great ending to a great tour.
- Dinner, snacks, and desserts.
- Drinks (alcoholic).
- A guided tour through Gado Shita.