From clinking glasses with locals at Shinjuku Golden Gai to tasting not one, but six bowls of the best ramen in Tokyo, these Tokyo food tours will teach you a little something about Japanese culture and etiquette, allow you to meet new people, and change the way you see Japan’s bustling capital. Meanwhile, you’ll be enjoying some of the most delicious Japanese foods in Tokyo. Check out this list of 5 of the best food tours in Tokyo and take your taste buds on a journey of gastronomical proportions!
Tasting 6 Mini Bowls of Ramen at 3 Award-winning Shops in Tokyo
Pre-packaged Cup Noodle ramen can’t compete with a hearty bowl of the authentic stuff, from rich pork tonkatsu ramen to the dipping-style tsukemen noodles served with a thick and concentrated soup on the side. And who better to show you the light than Frank, a ramen expert born and raised in Japan, who has eaten at over 500 ramen shops in Tokyo alone. In his capable chopstick-wielding hands, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a ramen expert yourself, capable hoovering down some ramen noodles with the best of the Tokyo lunch rush crowd.
On this ramen tasting tour, explore Nakameguro, Shibuya, and Ebisu as you hop between 3 award-winning Tokyo ramen shops and indulge in six mini bowls of the best ramen in Tokyo, expanding your palate with new ramen noodle variations. You’ll gain a new appreciation for this Japanese food fan favorite, the cheap, unpretentious, and delicious fuel of working men and women all across Tokyo.
Kawaii Food Tour in Harajuku
Want to try Instagrammable treats that look like something Willy Wonka dreamed up? Check out the Harajuku food tour. The food scene in Harajuku consists of more than just those iconic Harajuku crepes, and the local tour guide will share with you these lesser-tread paths of the Harajuku and Omotesando area. Starting at an “antenna shop,” a store specializing in a specific region’s goods, you’ll get to discover other parts of Japan without even leaving Tokyo. Then, check out a hip and trendy Tokyo okonomiyaki (savory cabbage pancake) restaurant, housed in an artsy little enclave in Omotesando. Finally, you’ll find yourself at Takeshita Dori, the hub of Japanese street fashion and youth culture, where you can indulge in a variety of creative, wacky sweets.
Golden Gai (Golden District) Food Tour in Shinjuku
Tokyo nightlife can be intimidating, especially Golden Gai, a narrow cluster of six different yokocho drinking alleys, crammed with over 200 intimate little bars, many of which charge a seating fee (meant to dissuade bar-hoppers). Golden Gai bars are truly local hangouts, where you won’t see many tourists, especially as some of them have signs dissuading foreigners and tourists from entering, to save space for their regular customers. On top of that, very few of these tiny bars are equipped with English menus, so it can be an overwhelming place to explore alone.
While you couldn’t exactly call the Golden District foreigner-friendly, with a proper guide like the local Shinjuku Golden Gai food tour guide, you can get an inside peek into Japanese drinking culture. Equipped with all the knowledge and Japanese drinking etiquette you’ll need to feel comfortable rubbing elbows with locals at the bar counter, you’ll soon find yourself chatting and laughing with new friends.
Saitama Sayama Tea Farm Tour
Just outside of Tokyo, in the tea fields of Sayama, Saitama, you’ll feel as if you’ve been plopped straight into a Studio Ghibli film. In fact, if things look a little familiar, you’ll find that this little suburb of Tokyo is actually the setting of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.
During the Saitama Sayama Tea Farm Tour, you can be an active participant in the production of Japanese tea, starting with donning the traditional Japanese uniform for tea-picking. After you’ve suited up, you’ll be hand-picking tea leaves in the tea fields and making fresh, hand-rolled tea like a pro. Later, sip three different kinds of Japanese tea, and even try a unique tea leaf tempura dish. If you really want to connect with the soil of Japan, and learn how your favorite caffeinated beverage (sorry, coffee!) is made, then this farm tour and tea-picking experience is the one for you.
Sunamachi Street Food Tour
You probably haven’t heard of Sunamachi Ginza. That’s ok, Sunamachi Ginza prefers it that way. Removed from the fast-paced Tokyo lifestyle, stepping into this little Tokyo neighborhood feels like hopping out of a time machine in the best way. A retro hidden gem where you can find mom-and-pop shops touting everything from tasty home-cooked meals to hot water bottles and antiques, the Sunamachi Street Food Tour is the best street food tour for authentic Japanese food like you can only experience at a Japanese grandmother’s house. You can also enjoy those classic Japanese street food staples like yakiniku (grilled meat on a skewer) and taiyaki (a sweet fish-shaped cake filled with red bean paste).
Whichever Tokyo food tour you choose, whether it’s a Japanese tea-picking experience or Kawaii Food Tour in Harajuku or a tour of the Tokyo nightlife scene in Shinjuku Golden Gai, you’ll be able to experience the typical Tokyo attractions in a more active way. Rather than passively taking in the sights, you can have a hands-on experience, with insights into Japanese etiquette and food culture from a local Tokyo tour guide. It’s truly the best way to experience authentic Japanese food culture during your Tokyo trip!
Rika is a sourdough enthusiast, amateur film photographer, and pun-lover, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As a carb-based lifeform, she is always on the lookout for tasty bakeries in the Tokyo area. She currently lives in Yokohama.