Top Tour Highlights
Michelin star restaurant in Fukuoka
Enjoy the gorgeous setting, beautiful presentation, fresh ingredients and magnificent skills of chefs at top restaurants.
High quality ceramics in Karatsu, Arita and Imari
You have the chance to visit production sites of Japanese premier ceramics which are admired worldwide.
Fresh seafood in Nagasaki
In Nagasaki, you visit a local fish monger who prepares seafood for their local restaurants.
Exclusive cooking class
You will learn directly from a top creative food expert at her home studio.
Visit to traditional food production sites
Visiting generations-old soy sauce maker and green tea merchant, salt farm using ancient method and award winning boutique sake brewery. Only possible by small groups.
Casual food experiences
You won't be eating only at high-end restaurants on this tour. Casual food such as ramen and yatai (street cart diners) are also part of the tour.
2024 Food Tour of Japan in Autumn is one of our most popular tours. This Kyushu tour takes you away from Japan’s main island and its busy cities to explore the island of Kyushu – Japan’s friendly western island famous for its temperate climate, laid-back rhythm, multicultural heritage and fantastic Kyushu food. Fukuoka is listed in the Eat category of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023.
The autumn colours in Kyushu are stunning and this tour has been purpose-built to have you surrounded by the reds, browns and golden leaves that distinguish Kyushu tours in autumn.
The tour starts and ends in Kyushu Island. We highly recommend you spend a few more days of your own before or after the group tour to discover endless attractions of Japan in other areas especially if you are the first-time visitors to this country. Journey to the East will be delighted to plan your private itinerary and provide information to suit your interests.
Day 1: Arrival in Fukuoka
Fukuoka, known as the 'River City'. It is the fifth largest city of Japan and very vibrant and cosmopolitan. It has good access with an international airport and JR Hakata Station where shinkansen (bullet train) stops. Journey to the East can offer advice its guests on the best way to get to Fukuoka from where you are.
On your arrival in Fukuoka (whether that’s by rail or air), you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel.
After a good night’s sleep, you will be ready to start the first full day of your 2043 Food Tour of Kyushu, Japan in Autumn.
*Many of our guests arrive a day or so early to settle in before the tour starts. We can arrange your additional nights accommodation in the same room as the tour.
Day 2: Fukuoka
Your Japanese food tour begins by exploration of Fukuoka. With a history going back some 2,000+ years, there is plenty to enjoy. Kyushu’s largest city has historically been the centre of western Japan’s trading contact with its Asian neighbors and you will feel the influence.
Walking through Fukuoka, your guide will take you to;
- Kushida Shrine, built around 757, a host of one of the biggest festivals in Kyushu, the vibrant Yamakasa Festival.
- See some traditional industries and age-old crafts at Hakata Folk Museum,
- Experience an old-style shopping arcade selling local food products and timeless cultural items such as Buddhist alters and knives at the Kawabata Shopping Arcade.
For lunch, "Hakata ramen" noodles are on the menu, arguably the most famous dish of Fukuoka, and we find out how serious the locals are about their ramen!
Tonight, you enjoy a welcome dinner at a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant – an exquisite multi-course banquet of seasonally sensitive local foods served in a beautiful setting. A very fitting introduction to this 2024 Food Tour of Kyushu, Japan in Autumn!
Day 3: Dazaifu & Cooking Class
JttE Special Experience #1!
This morning you will have a chance to learn how to cook Japanese food yourself. You will visit a cooking studio housed in a renovated traditional house in a suburb of Fukuoka. Here a creative food expert will passionately pass on recipes of Japanese dishes, which you can recreate back at home.
Heading for the town of Dazaifu in the afternoon, you will see the magnificent Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which dates back to the 10th century. The shrine commemorates the life of a famous Kyoto poet-scholar who was exiled to Dazaifu but later deified as the god of literature and scholarship.
A great way to get an informative overview of Japanese history within the context of the broader Asian region is the visit the Kyushu National Museum with your guide.
JttE Special Experience #2!
Dinner tonight is another iconic slice of Hakata food culture – the yatai food cart. These mobile carts roll into the city in the evening and serve up delicious food cooked right in front of you. Seating only 10 people, the relaxed atmosphere, shared conversation, and delicious food make it an unmissable Hakata food experience.
Day 4: Itoshima
Set off to Itoshima by the picturesque Futamigaura Bay, which is fast becoming a foodie haven.
JttE Special Experience #3!
Here you will visit a fourth-generation-owned soy sauce brewery and a traditional sea salt extraction farm which produces some of Japan's finest sea salt . In between, you visit a local farmers’ market to inspect the range of fresh produce available.
Today's lunch is not only specially prepared for our group by local chefs using local ingredients, but also is joined by chefs and farmers talking about their provenance.
Closing the day, you will stay at a Japanese style ryokan in the specially selected seaside town of Yobuko.
Day 5: Karatsu
A great start of the day with an authentic Japanese-style breakfast made up of a nutritional feast of grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles!
The first stop this morning is one of the Japan's three historically renowned morning markets, Yobuko Morning Market. Locals catch and sell fresh and dried seafood, especially squid for which Yobuko is famous. This is a good opportunity to enjoy the 'buzz' of this regional part of life. For lunch today, the locally caught calamari prepared as tempura is very fitting.
After lunch, in Karatsu, you will visit;
- A beautifully preserved 19th century villa showcasing the magnificent traditional architecture, the former Takatori Residence, and
- The kilns of famous Karatsu-yaki pottery, highly sought after by Japanese pottery enthusiasts.
Dinner tonight is at a teppanyaki restaurant with juicy wagyu beef.
Day 6: Arita & Imari
Today, another treat. You visit some porcelain kilns specializing in highly decorated style using various colours, the Arita-yaki, and classic style, habitually using blue and white hues, the Imari-yaki.
With its elaborate designs and influence from Chinese and Korean potters, Kyushu porcelain has become highly sought after and popular both in Japan as well as Europe. Essential for the proper presentation of Japanese food, the ceramic dish is seen to be as integral a part of the culinary experience as the food itself.
Later, you will travel on to your next destination Nagasaki. During Japan’s closed-door period in the 17th and 18th centuries, Nagasaki was the only city open to the rest of the world . In Nagasaki you will feel the influence of the time when it was visited by Dutch, Portuguese and French missionaries, as well as the impressions left by traders from Europe, China, Korea and Southeast Asia.
Nagasaki is also home of one of Japan's largest Chinatowns. Tonight, you enjoy a silver service Chinese dinner with a Nagasaki twist. Another claim to fame of Nagasaki is its breathtaking night view. You will drive by Inasayama Outlook after dinner, on the way back to your hotel.
Day 7: Nagasaki
JttE Special Experience #4!
Nagasaki has one of the largest catch of fish in Japan and today you visit a local fishmonger. Here you learn about the local fish trade and see how delicate slices of sashimi are prepared for Nagasaki’s restaurants – you will have a chance to taste the freshest sashimi, prepared right in front of you by the staff.
Next visit is about history. You will hear about Thomas Blake Glover who contributed significantly to the development of Japan, especially ship building, when you visit his magnificent residence and the beautiful Glover Garden. You will also tour some the Meiji-era residences of European settlers.
As you walk, you will come upon Japan’s oldest wooden church, Oura Catholic Church, which was built by French missionaries in 1865. It remains a symbol of Nagasaki’s long connection with Europe.
Lunch today is at a restaurant specializing in Shippoku cuisine, a unique Nagasaki cuisine combining Japanese, Chinese and local foods.
After lunch you have free afternoon and evening. Nagasaki has so much history and cultures. Enjoy the city in your way.
Day 8: Nagaki & Unzen
No trip to Nagasaki is complete without a visit to the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum which mark the events of that tragic day in August 1945.
After lunch, a minibus will take you to your next destination, Unzen on the fascinating Shimabara Peninsula.
At Unzen, a guided walk through Unzen’s national park is where you can see active geothermal geysers and mud pools. You’ll see how man has harnessed nature’s power to create the heavenly hot springs experience tonight.
At your hotel tonight enjoy a course meal with French style influence in a historical dining room with a view of the geothermal park.
Day 9: Unzen & Shimabara
You will take ropeway up to Mt Unzen which reveals great view of Ariake Sea and beyond. Next stop is a five-storied feudal-era castle on a hilltop, Shimabara Castle. Here you can learn about Kyushu’s early samurai clans as well as the curious history of the Christian rebellion in the 17th century.
The last stop on the peninsula is Mt Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall, a unique, high-tech museum which vividly captures the 1991 eruption of Mt Unzen.
In the late afternoon, we take a 30 minute ferry ride and cross from Shimabara to Kumamoto City.
JttE Special Experience #5!
At dinner tonight meet the local Japanese chef who is famous nationwide for his creative, beautifully presented dishes. At his Japanese Italian fusion style restaurant, you can experience the work he does to revive and promote heritage Kumamoto vegetables which were slowly disappearing from use.
Day 10: Kumamoto
You will spend a day in the city of Kumamoto, in the middle of Kyushu.
The first stop is the symbol of the city, the splendid Kumamoto Castle, considered one of the three premier castles in Japan. Originally built in 1607, it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2016. You will have a rare chance of witnessing its completed restoration work. You will also visit the nearby sublime Suizenji Japanese Garden this morning.
This afternoon and evening are free. Kumamoto is a great place for shopping as well as trying many different styles of food from local cuisine to modern western style restaurants. Why not try an izakaya, casual Japanese style eatery, where you can taste many different small dishes (like tapas). Our guide will always assist our guests to choose what to do and eat.
Day 11: Aso
You start out today by heading through some of the most scenic parts of Kyushu Island, the Mt Aso region.
Mt Aso is one of the world’s largest calderas, and volcanic activity over the last 300,000 years has created a landscape which is visually striking: craggy volcanic peaks, dense forests, and lush grasslands.
We then stop at a local Kuju Winery for a tasting and lunch.
Tonight, we will stay at a ryokan on a secluded mountain side. This will be the final chance to experience an onsen on this trip.
Dinner will be a kaiseki banquet at your hotel.
Day 12: Yame
Take a trip to one of Japan’s leading green tea producing areas, Yame district and it's surrounds.
JttE Special Experience #6!
You visit a centuries-old tea merchant and be hosted by its fourteenth-generation owner to learn about the different varieties of green tea and how to brew the perfect cup of gyokuro (highest quality green tea).
Later, we taste-test another famous Japanese beverage – sake. At a visit to an award-winning local sake brewery, and a personal tour by the brewery staff will reveal the end-to-end processes of sake production – a special experience to engage in first-hand and ask as many questions as you like.
Although the 2024 Food Tour of Kyushu, Japan in Autumn is coming to an end the farewell dinner tonight is truly something special. Back in Fukuoka, you will have an exquisite sushi banquet.
Dinner will bring together all the elements of Kyushu food culture discovered along your journey – from its seas, mountains, rivers, plains and undeniably stunning autumn colours – reaffirming the fantastically diverse nature of Kyushu's food and geography.
Day 13: Bon Voyage
This morning, you will check out of your hotel after breakfast and your 2024 Autumn Food Tour of Kyushu, Japan in Autumn concludes.
You can fly out from Fukuoka, or return by air or train to the international airports in Tokyo or Osaka.
But it doesn't have to be the end of your dream adventure! Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Model Extension Itineraries for inspiration.
Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer, but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.
Dates & Prices
2024 Food Tour of Kyushu, Japan in Autumn
Per person twin share:
Each guest is personally looked after with one-on-one interactions with our hand-picked, expert tour guides. As part of your investment, this tour includes:
- First-class wisdom and higher standard of individual care and attention
- 12 nights’ accommodation (including traditional Japanese inns)
- All breakfasts
- 9 lunches (2 free choice lunches)
- 9 dinners (2 free choice dinners)
- Exclusive activity access
- Airport/station meet & greet on arrival
- Hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
- All local transport (train, bus and private minivans)
- Expert English speaking tour guides (Locally licensed)
- Cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise stated, this tour does not include the costs of international and domestic airfares, transfers on the last day, travel insurance, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, transport during free time, personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.) and Visa (if required).
Who this Japan tour is for...
This is a perfect tour for people who:
- Want to increase their knowledge of Japanese food
- Wish to travel Kyushu because it is away from major tourist cities
- Like to interact with artisans and food specialists in a private setting
- Enjoy nature especially against the autumn foliage
- Like to experience variety of accommodation style including ryokans with private bathroom
- Like the use of minivan which gives you great access and comfort
We found this a great tour for foodies, as well as a great all round introduction to southern Japan for anyone. While the meals were excellent, we were pleased to find that the tour wasn’t just about food, but also about Japan’s history, landscape, language and artisan tradition.
Maureen & Tony Wallace
This Food Tour was the second one we have taken with Journey to the East and have enjoyed each one. The guides, itineraries, food, and accommodation were all excellent. Have booked another tour for 2020.