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    Discover the Best Food Tours: Tokyo, Japan Edition

    By Chloë Pickett

    March 11, 2023

    Discover the Best Food Tours: Tokyo, Japan Edition

    Japanese food is a huge component of Japan's culture, and exploring the local cuisine is often one of the best highlights of traveling to the country. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a fast-paced, bustling city with a melting pot of delicious foods found throughout the country. 

    When in Tokyo, it's essential to sample some of the local food and street food and get a feel for authentic Japanese food culture. If you've ever had Japanese food outside of the country, there isn't quite anything like eating at a local sushi joint in Tokyo or snagging some street food while strolling the various districts of this beautiful city.

    For most travelers, navigating Tokyo isn't easy, especially when trying to find the best places to eat, like the local favorites. Luckily, Tokyo food tours are readily available, helping to provide you with a tasty experience from a local's perspective while also gaining insight into the culture and history of the city.

    City Unscripted offers a few memorable experiences for trying many Japanese dishes and drinks. Follow along to learn more about delicious Japanese food and find 3 of the best Tokyo food tours for your next trip to Japan!

    Key Takeaways
    • Food tours are great for both solo travelers and small groups.
    • Izakayas are non-formal Japanese bars with traditional drinks and small dishes of delicious food.
    • Joining a food tour is an easy way to learn more about Japanese history, food, and etiquette.

    3 Fun Facts About Japanese Food

    3 Fun Facts About Japanese Food

    3 Fun Facts About Japanese Food

    1. Soy is one of the most popular ingredients in Japanese dishes.
    2. Ramen is a popular dish in Japan, but it actually originated in China.
    3. It's proper etiquette in Japan to drink soup straight from the bowl.

    What is an Izakaya?

    Joining a food tour means you'll be frequenting many izakaya throughout the tour. An izakaya is a casual Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks, such as sake, alongside small plates of food and snacks. These places are great for relaxing after work, getting together with friends, or when you're simply looking for a bite to eat. 

    Izakaya are similar to pubs or taverns, although the seating arrangements can be quite different. Depending on where you stop along your tour, you might find an izakaya that offers both chair seating or tatami mats for a more traditional experience.

    There are also izakaya that are intended for standing only. The most common form of izakaya has a more modern seating style, but if you prefer a traditional or alternative experience, your host should be able to find a stop or two to meet your request.

    Japanese Izakaya cuisine
    Unlike standard restaurants that offer you individual meals, many dishes served at Izakaya are intended to be shared at the table.

    This creates a sense of community and connection within the group and promotes conversation and the casual atmosphere that locals love about these bars. 

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    When Is the Best Time to Do a Food Tour?

    When it comes to Japanese culture, there isn't really the best time to explore their izakaya. City Unscripted's food tours in Tokyo are offered throughout the day and can accommodate most people's schedules and needs. Regardless of what food you're interested in trying or which districts you want to explore, many restaurants in Tokyo are open morning, afternoon, and evening. Locals love Japanese cuisine just as much as tourists and many places are open 24/7! Whether you're an early bird or want to experience Japan's nightlife, there's a Tokyo food tour for you. 

    If you're looking to avoid crowds, it's best to avoid booking your tour during rush hour. During this time, traveling by street and public transportation will be busier than at other times of the day. While most people will be traveling to and from work, it can seem more bustling than other hours. 

    Usually, Tokyo’s rush hours are from 7 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 7 pm.
    Japanese local cuisine

    Local culture usually follows true to this schedule, and if you're looking to avoid getting lost in the crowd of locals, you may want to book your tour outside of these parameters. 

    Booking a tour during these times means you'll have an authentic feel for Tokyo, getting a taste of how vibrant, fast, and modern the city truly feels.


    Solo Travelers

    Are you traveling to Tokyo on your own? Don't worry; there are plenty of options for food tours available. City Unscripted doesn't require you to have a partner or small group with you in order to book a tour. 

    Many times, booking on your own means you'll pay a higher fee in comparison to booking with another person. But, when you book a solo tour, you're also getting a much more intimate and personal experience, which adds value to the overall tour. 

    This way, you can collaborate with the guide and create an itinerary that fulfills all of your interests and desires for exploring Tokyo's food culture. A solo tour also allows you to communicate with your guide, ask questions, and learn about the interesting history of Japanese cuisine. 

    a solo traveler backpacking through a busy city

    Small Group Tours

    If you're traveling with a small group, joining a private tour to learn about authentic Japanese cuisine will be the highlight of your trip. A small group tour is a rewarding experience allowing you and your travel guests to bond over the exciting experiences of trying new food and immersing yourselves in Tokyo's invigorating culture. 

    City Unscripted has an eight-person maximum, including children. Otherwise, you can join a tour whether you're traveling as a single person, a couple, or have seven other companions.

    There are plenty of food Tokyo tours to choose from and a lot of tasty food for your group to enjoy. Many of the stops throughout these food tours are in Izakaya, which are excellent places for small groups and warm conversations. 

    various Japanese finger foods

    Sushi Making

    When foreigners travel to Tokyo, authentic Japanese sushi is one of the first dishes they want to try. Sushi is found in other parts of the world due to its popularity and versatility, but nothing quite compares to experiencing it in Japan. 

    City Unscripted offers a sushi tour that allows you to sample up to 8 unique sushi dishes throughout the duration of your experience. Here, you may try a few sushi you’ve never heard of, such as otoro tuna, slimy eel, or sea urchin. Throughout the tour, your guide helps keep you informed on what you're eating, such as ingredients and sushi type, so that you can order it on your own throughout the rest of your stay in the city. 

    Without a local guide, you may opt for a fancier sushi restaurant that doesn’t necessarily give you the same quality or feel as a local’s favorite. Your guide knows where all the best sushi shops are and helps guide you throughout the process of discovering them.

    Japanese chefs preparing various kinds of sushi

    At one point, you'll eat at the depachika, which is an underground department store basement food court. You'll find many varieties of sushi stops to choose from, guided by your host. 

    Another exciting experience on the sushi tour is dining at a conveyor belt sushi joint. Here, sushi dishes are placed on a conveyor belt that rotates through the restaurant. Other dishes accompany the sushi, such as edamame, soup, and salad. Eating at a conveyor belt joint is a fun way to experience a part of Japanese history and get a taste for a wide variety of sushi. 

    The sushi tour is a walking experience and lasts up to 3 hours. 

    The cost for solo travelers is $262.35 per person, while the cost for pairs is $164.72 per person.

    Tokyo Food Tour • 3 hours  ★★★★★

    On a roll in Tokyo! The sushi experience

    Forget the luxury sushi restaurants in your guide and eat incredible sushi like a local at popular conveyor-belt and standing sushi restaurants

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    sushi chef serving sushi to tourist couple Tourist couple enjoying Japanese sweets various sushi served in a Japanese restaurant

    Eat Like a True Tokyoite

    City Unscripted offers a food tour designed to give you an authentic eating experience curated from a local's point of view. There are many unique izakaya that have some of the best food Tokyo has to offer, but finding them on your own is challenging. Without proper knowledge of the districts or neighborhoods, you may not know where to start looking for local hot spots. 

    On this tour, you feast your way through a neighborhood in Tokyo famous for its eclectic food culture. There are many dishes that you can try that you probably never heard of, helping to expand your taste for Japanese food and learn more about the history of the local cuisine. 

    While most izakaya in Tokyo are excellent, your tour guide will have their own set of favorites they want you to experience.

    You enjoy delicious sake and regional foods full of flavor and life at these stops. Izakaya moves at a slower pace than a traditional restaurant, so this gives you plenty of opportunity to connect with the rest of the people in your group and network with your host, learning anything you want to know about the city. 

    Throughout the tour, you'll have 6-8 tastings, trying dishes like sushi, grilled seafood, traditional gyoza, yakitori, and other popular izakaya foods. Choose between one beer and one cup of sake or highball, or two soft drinks. If you're unsure of what to try on tour, your host will help guide you and educate you on each dish or beverage. 

    Japanese local food and sweets

    This food tour is a walking experience, but your tour guide can recommend public transportation for an additional cost if necessary. 

    The Eat Like a True Tokyoite is a four-hour tour and costs $321.10 for solo travelers and $194.60 per person for pairs. 

    Tokyo Food Tour • 4 hours  ★★★★★

    Eat like a true Tokyoite

    From quirky hole-in-a-wall yakitori skewers to sushi delivered by robot trains, you'll eat like a local on an experience tailored to your tastebuds

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    local Japanese cuisine - Okonomiyaki local Japanese sweets - Dango a tourist coulpe enjoying local Japanese food

    Bottoms Up!

    Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine alcoholic beverage. City Unscripted has a tour specifically designed for you to try some of the best sake in Tokyo. 

    Sake mainly consists of water, rice, yeast, and koji spores. Once combined, the koji converts the rice starches into sugar, which feeds the yeast, initiates the fermentation process, and converts the beverage into alcohol.

    Your host takes you to three of Tokyo's finest rice wine establishments, where you'll taste various types of sake. Sake comes in many forms, such as Honjozo-shu, a standard version of the drink, or Daiginjo-shu, a more intricate composition. 

    Japanese sake

    Visit KURAND, a specialty bar that houses 100 different types of sake for you to enjoy. For a more authentic experience, your host may take you to a Nemoto Liquor Store, which often has a lively community of nightlife and entertainment right on the corner. 

    Regardless of where your tour takes you, you'll visit three different venues, all holding their own unique atmospheres for the ultimate sake experience. 

    Small plates of popular izakaya dishes are served at each location alongside your drinks. 

    The Sake Experience tour lasts 3 hours and is a walking experience. 

    The tour starts at $266.86 for solo travelers and $171.22 per person for pairs.

    Tokyo Sake Tasting Tour • 3 hours  ★★★★★

    Bottoms up, Tokyo-style! The “sake” experience

    Discover an array of sake brews, learn about the history of sake and how it's produced, and taste different notes from various regions of Japan

    See experience
    tourist couple enjoying Japanese sake various brands of Japanese sake - Nihonshu Japanese locals drinking in alley bars

    Choosing Your Tour

    Now that you've found the best food tours in Tokyo, it's time to decide which one is best for you. Decide whether you want your tour to focus heavily on sushi or if you want a more general exploration of Tokyo's food culture. Or, if having an in-depth tour of some of the city's best sake spots is most appealing, City Unscripted has a tour for you. 

    Each tour ranges from 3 - 4 hours, so there isn't too much of a difference in the duration that you'll be on your feet. 

    If you're finding it difficult to choose between each tour, why not try them all? Each tour provides you with a unique experience and the opportunity to meet multiple local guides that can help you experience everything Tokyo has to offer. 

    Always make sure to communicate any dietary preferences or accommodations with your host beforehand, as this helps them curate an itinerary that works for you and your guests.
    woman tourist taking a picture of the city

    Overall, no matter which Tokyo food tour you choose, they all offer something special that isn't often found without the help of a local expert. For more tour information, check out all of the exciting Toko tours that City Unscripted has to offer.

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