OCTOBER 2017 – Known for the freshest ingredients, subtle combination of flavours and exquisite presentation, the food of Japan plays a distinctive and central role in the country’s culture. In 2013, Japan’s cuisine was recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, joining France as the only two countries to receive this accolade for the whole of their food culture.
Walk Japan, the pioneer in guided walking tours to the nation, takes customers on journeys across Japan’s beautifully diverse landscapes into its rich culture and delectable gastronomy. All Walk Japan’s tours are an epicurean adventure exploring the breadth and depth of authentic Japanese cuisine from the dishes the country is rightly famous from sushi and tempura, to delicious farmhouse fayre and rare morsels found in each region, town or village.
Boutique sakes complement every evening meal and visits to breweries, which are found throughout Japan, feature in many tours including the Oita Hot Spring Trail, Kunisaki Retreat and Nakasendo Way. Here customers learn about how this drink, Japan’s libation to the gods, is meticulously created and sample the master brewer’s best grades.
Wasabi green mustard is a distinctive and essential ingredient in Japanese cooking and the Izu Peninsula, which is overlooked by Mt. Fuji, produces Japan’s and consequently the world’s finest wasabi. Customers on Walk Japan’s Izu Geo Trail come across plots hidden in the forest, where wasabi is cultivated in the sparkling spring waters that flow copiously from Izu’s mountains. During many meals, they also prepare their own wasabi to enjoy with the plentiful fish caught each day in the seas surrounding the peninsula.
Miso fermented soya bean paste, a widely used ingredient in Japanese cooking, has gained interest from culinary enthusiasts around the world for both its flavoursomeness and health-giving properties. A feature of almost all meals on a Walk Japan tour, on the Kunisaki & Yufuin Walk customers visit a local shop, a listed original wooden structure, where miso has been produced in the traditional way by hand using local ingredients and water from a well on the premises since 1900.
The Oita Hot Spring Trail complements its theme of onsen hotsprings with meals created from the ingredients from seas, fields, forests and mountains found in this particularly bountiful region of Japan. At Beppu, this tour also includes steam-cooked dishes that actually harness the onsen here to cook the food to perfection.
Like so many of Walk Japan’s tours the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage is largely a rural experience. However, it also takes the opportunity to journey through Osaka’s energetic urban food scene, where the company’s expert Tour Leaders ensure a wonderful experience of an izakaya restaurant. Here the atmosphere is often rumbustious and the dishes plentiful in variety. These include staples that have helped make Japan’s food scene a global sensation such as sashimi, kushiyaki grilled meats and vegetables, karaage fried chicken, edamame beans, okonomiyaki savoury pancakes and yakisoba fried noodles as well as many lesser-known but no less tasty delicacies.