2023 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu, Japan
The 2023 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu, Japan is staged on the western Japan island of Kyushu and is offered to just 8 guests. In addition, the tour includes many exclusive experiences which are only available to the guests of Journey to the East.
The 2023 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu, Japan is perfect for those who like exploring Japan beyond the big cities. Kyushu is fast-becoming Japan’s favourite foodie destination for its fresh produce and traditional artisans. It is an ideal tour for both first-timers and repeat visitors seeking a comprehensive introduction to the world of washoku – Japan’s famous UNESCO-listed food culture.
Highlights of the tour includes an exclusive cooking lesson from an innovative food specialist in her own home studio, generations old local makers of fine soy sauce and green tea, visit to a famous ceramic production area of Arita and Imari, as well as enjoying haute-cuisine at a Michelin-starred restaurant and hearty dishes at yatai street vendors. While focusing on wide ranging Japan’s food, you will not miss out the must-have experiences in Japan such as staying at sublime ryokan and soak in onsen, visit magnificent Japanese gardens and castles, and admire natural beauties including gorgeous cherry blossom.
Day 1: Arrival in Fukuoka
On arrival in Fukuoka for your 2023 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu, Japan, you will be met by a friendly Journey to the East staff member and escorted to your hotel. Fukuoka is readily accessible both by rail and air - please ask us about your options.
Day 2: Fukuoka
The tour starts with a visit to some of the Fukuoka’s favourite spots for foodies as well as iconic historical sites. This includes a very popular dashi shop and a Japanese kitchen knife shop. Arguably most famous dish in Fukuoka is its “Hakata ramen” noodles. That is what you have for lunch today. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant – an exquisite multi-course kaiseki banquet of seasonal local foods served in a traditional Japanese setting.
Day 3: Yame
Kyushu’s Yame district is one of Japan’s leading tea-producing areas. Today we will visit a centuries old tea merchant in Yame. After a brief stop at a lookout to view the brilliant green of the tea fields, next is a taste-test of another famous Japanese beverage – sake. For dinner back in Fukuoka is another slice of Hakata food culture – the yatai food cart. These mobile carts seat only 10 people or so and have the relaxed atmosphere and delicious food.
Day 4: Itoshima
Today you will visit Itoshima, which is fast becoming a foodie haven. Journey to the East exclusive experience! Here you will visit a fourth-generation-owned soy sauce brewery and a salt extraction farm which is producing premium sea salt using Japanese traditional methods. In between, we 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 you can chat with both chefs and farmers about their provenance; they will join us for the lunch.
Day 5: Karatsu
The day starts with the opportunity to sample an authentic Japanese-style breakfast. It is made up of a nutritional feast of grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles! Then, the first stop this morning is Yobuko morning market, one of the Japan's three historial morning markets. Locals catch and sell fresh and dried seafood, especially squid for which Yobuko is famous. After lunch, you will have an opportunity to visit some kilns of high-quality Karatsu pottery.
Day 6: Arita & Ureshino
The ceramics are regarded as being as much an integral part of the culinary experience as is the food itself. Today we visit pottery kilns specializing in Arita-yaki (a highly decorated style using various colours) and Imari-yaki (a classic style of blue and white hues). Tonight, you will stay at an authentic Japanese inn with onsen spa baths and a lovely Japanese garden.
Day 7: Nagasaki
After breakfast we head to Nagasaki. Nagasaki was the only area open to the rest of the world during Japan’s closed-door period during the 17th and 18th centuries. The area was visited by Dutch, Portuguese and French missionaries, as well as traders from Europe, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. Of course, any visit to Nagasaki is not complete without a visit to the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum which marks the events of that tragic day in August 1945.
Day 8: Nagasaki & Unzen
Journey to the East exclusive experience! A visit to a local fish wholesaler is where you witness the preparation of some of the freshest seafood in the world. This is an exclusive experience to Journey to the East guests. In the afternoon we make our way to the Shimabara Peninsula. Here we take a walk through Unzen’s national park to see active geothermal geysers and mud pools.
Day 9: Shimabara
Shimabara Castle, a five-storied feudal-era castle on a hilltop, is a great spot for cherry blossom. We also pause at Mt Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall. It is a unique, high-tech museum which vividly captures the 1991 disastrous eruption of Mt Unzen. Later we board a ferry to across the bay to Kumamoto. Tonight is your opportunity to choose dinner from hundreds of local restaurants and find your own unique Japanese food experience.
Day 10: Kumamoto
Originally built in 1607, Kumamoto Castle was damaged by the 2016 earthquake and is currently being repaired. However, it remains an impressive feudal complex and offers some of Japan’s best cherry-blossom viewing in spring. Dinner tonight is at an Italian restaurant. The owner chef was trained in Italy and is well-known in Japan for his effort to preserve heritage Kumamoto vegetables.
Day 11: Yufuin
Today you will be driven through one of the most picturesque regions of Kyushu, Kuju. On the way, we visit a local winery. In the afternoon, you will stroll around Yufuin, one of the most popular onsen towns in Japan. Cherry blossom trees lining the river bank in the rural setting are sure to add a special memory to your trip. Tonight, you will be introduced to a Japanese ryokan experience at its finest.
Day 12: Fukuoka
Completing a big loop, you are back to Fukuoka. Tonight, you will visit one of the finest sushi restaurants in Fukuoka and experience one of the most famous Japanese dishes.
Day 13: Dazaifu & Cooking Class
A day-trip takes us to the nearby town of Dazaifu by local train. Here we visit the magnificent Tenmangu Shrine and the Kyushu National Museum. Journey to the East exclusive experience! Tonight you visit a local food professional's own home studio and prepare our dinner at a fun-filled (but seriously high-standard) cooking class. With guidance from an experienced food expert you will learn the dishes that you can recreate at home to impress your friends.
Day 14: Goodbye
After breakfast, your 2023 Food and Cherry Blossom Tour of Kyushu, Japan concludes. Please ask us about your options for returning back to your home country from Fukuoka or continuing your travels in Japan. Because this tour is filled with exciting content, and Fukuoka has so much more to see and do (and eat!) it is also a great idea to come a few days early or stay on a few days in Fukuoka to relax and explore for your own adventure. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Extension Model Itineraries for inspirations! 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.
- 13 nights accommodation (including traditional inns)
- Meals as specified.
- Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
- Transport on private minivan and all local transport (train, bus and taxi)
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
- Most cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
- International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
- Transfer on the last day.
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
- Transport during free time
- Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
- Visa (if required)
The sheer diversity of puffing volcanoes, two in one day – incredible. Beautiful ceramics being crafted, salt being harvested, soy and saki being distilled, meeting the families who poured their hearts into their business. The charming patisserie in the hills above Yame. The knife grinder. Having lunch prepared for us by the salt farmer and Emina and Waturu. Cafe lunch with those wonderful cups and saucers and …