Arigato Japan Food Tours

Arigato Japan Food Tours offers 37 different group tours between Hiroshima, Kyoto, Mount Fuji, Osaka, and Tokyo. They even offer customized private tours. Their walking tours focus on one to two neighborhoods and are lead my fluent English (and sometimes Spanish) speaking guides. While their tours focus on offering guests the opportunity to sample a handful of local dishes, they are also lessons in Japanese history, language, and etiquette. What started as a one-woman operation back in 2016, has since grown into a team of more than 70, spread across five of Japan’s most touristed cities.

If you join a food tour at the beginning of your visit, it will help you plan the rest of your trip

When you arrive in a new city, you have certain expectations. There’s what you read about on TripAdvisor and see on YouTube, versus the reality. Joining a food tour at the beginning of your trip can be like putting your foot in the onsen baths, before deciding whether or not you want to submerge your entire body. With Arigato Japan, you’ll get to traverse specific neighborhoods by foot, explore some of their famous train stations, learn a bit of history, and, most importantly, sample different Japanese cuisine.

At the end of your tour, you can decide whether or not you enjoyed the Osaka version of okonomiyaki enough to try the Hiroshima version as well. You may feel like you had the best piece of sushi in your life and want to return to the same place for lunch the following day. In my case, okonomiyaki was not for me, but I became enamored with Kobe beef after my first mouth-watering bite. I was able to cross one of my list and make a mental note to try more of the other. 

I Prefer to Sample Different Items and Want to Know What I’m Eating

If you’ve traveled around Asia or any place where you can’t read the language, you’ve likely looked at the local food with a mix of curiosity, excitement, and trepidation. Just what kind of meat is this? How spicy is that red sauce? Personally, I want to know the answer before I try. Paradoxically, I love street food, which tends to be poorly labeled compared to what you’ll find in a restaurant.

When you join an Arigato Japan food tour, you can be confident that they won’t fill you up on one item. You’ll get to sample a handful of different Japanese staples from sweet to savory. Their guides speak nearly perfect English and will explain everything before any member of the group touches a single sushi roll or piece of takoyaki. You won’t have to find out later that those Japanese characters that you couldn’t decipher spelled raw horse meat or whale sashimi. When you make your online reservation, you can mention any dietary restrictions you have.

Arigato Japan will take your dietary restrictions into consideration

When you make your reservation, you can mention any dietary restrictions you have. With that said, these tours are not ideal for vegans or even vegetarians. Although you won’t be eating anything that you couldn’t find an Americanized version of somewhere in California, don’t expect a kosher meal or halal meat. Personally, I prefer to avoid pork products, extremely spicy food, and alcoholic drinks. The only issue I came across was when we were served ramen with pork broth. I skipped that serving and still felt full at the end of that evening’s tour. Otherwise, the sushi chefs were happy to omit wasabi from my nigiri rolls. One of the two tours I joined offered alcoholic drinks, and I was able to get a non-alcoholic mojito. 

It’s easy to get lost in Asian cities

With the exception of train stations and some street signs, you can’t count on signs being in English when you are in most Asian cities. In China, Google Maps does not work, and some of the most exciting parts of Tokyo can be labyrinth-like. This is another reason to start your trip with a food tour. The Arigato Japan guides will take you down dark alleyways and help you discover some of Tokyo’s hidden gems that you’d have a difficult time finding without a guide. Knowing that you won’t get lost can help take some of the stress out of being in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. 

I joined their Shinjuku Golden Gai and Japanese Street Food tours. One starts at the world’s busiest train station, while the other begins at the world’s busiest intersection. With that said, Arigato Japan will email you with specific instructions for how to get to your meet point. I had no difficulty with this as exits are numbered in most Tokyo metro stations. 

Arigato Japan food tours are not just about food

Like the most memorable food tours I’ve joined, from Sydney to New York City, Arigato Japan tours and not just about food. While there’s food at every key stop, there’s a seemingly endless history lesson between every bite. While I always want to know what I’m eating, I also prefer to know the history behind it. For example, I learned the most about sushi. Many Americans, myself included, see going out for sushi as a special occasion. While I’ve eaten it just about every week for the past 15 years, it’s generally from an upscale grocery store like Whole Foods or Wegmans. But during the Edo-era, it was considered to be a cheaper street food. And in Japan, being a sushi chef is a lifelong vocation, which is taken so seriously that it takes years of training before you are even allowed to touch the fish.

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This post was sponsored by Arigato Japan Food Tours. You can check out their different Tokyo tours here. Some are available in Spanish. They also offer tours of Hiroshima, Kyoto, Mount Fuji, and Osaka. Read what people are saying on TripAdvisor.

All pictures were shot with a Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera, with the exception of any Instagram pics

Have you been to Tokyo? If so, what did you eat? Where?