The prefecture of Shizuoka, one hour by bullet train from Tokyo, has welcomed a range of new culinary experiences, perfect for travellers planning a Japanese escape.
Wasabi tasting course
Producing more than half of all wasabi grown in Japan, Shizuoka is renowned as the birthplace of wasabi cultivation, a method dating back approx. 400 years and recognised by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System. The newly launched ‘Let’s eat real wasabi’ culinary experience offers a unique introduction to the wasabi world. Participants will learn about the cultivation process and the qualities of wasabi in a lesson by a local wasabi farmer followed by an eight-course menu of wasabi-infused dishes. Prices start from JPY 8,800 (approx. £52) per person.
Become an expert on sake
The new ‘Sake Study and Sake Pairing Lunch with Sake Master’ experience is set on the foothills of Mt. Fuji (an area dotted with rice fields, crucial for sake production) and organised by a family-run brewery. The four-hour experience starts with a factory tour to study how sake is produced followed by a master class on different sake flavours and tasting led by one of the knowledgeable sake masters at the brewery. After the class, participants will enjoy a sake-pairing lunch at a local traditional ryokan, showcasing the harmony and balance of flavours that make sake such a beloved drink in Japan. Price starts from JPY 23,000 per person (approx. £136) for two people including the class, sake tasting and lunch.
Edomae sushi making
The ‘Classic Edomae Sushi Cooking Experience’ is a must-try for sushi enthusiasts. Edomae sushi is a traditional style of sushi originating in Tokyo (‘edo’ meaning old Tokyo) and using seasonal fish, shellfish and other types of seafood prepared in a variety of ways such as vinegared, marinated and boiled. It is said that these techniques were developed in ancient times as a way to enhance the flavour of ingredients and help with the preservation. Premium locally sourced ingredients are used for this experience with participants learning the history of sushi and techniques to make Edomae sushi, including how to prepare the different types of fish and seafood, over the immersive three-hour workshop. Prices start from JPY 30,000 (approx. £175) per person for groups of five.
This new ‘Wagashi making’ workshop is perfect for travellers with a sweet tooth. Typically made with ingredients such as sweet bean paste, rice flour and fruits, wagashi is a traditional Japanese sweet, renowned for its beautiful presentation and made to reflect the changing seasons and local ingredients. The workshop begins with a class on what wagashi is followed by a making demonstration by a skilled confectioner. Participants will then try their hand at making two types of this delicate culinary art: nerikiri, often resembling seasonal symbols or plants; and daifuku, a rice cake with a sweet filling. Once the creations are done, these will be enjoyed with a cup of locally produced green tea. Prices start from JPY 4,400 (approx. £26) per person.
Japan’s finest green tea
Gyokuro green tea is known as the highest quality green tea and is mainly produced in three regions in Japan: Uji (Kyoto), Yame (Fukuoka) and Asahina, a very quiet mountain village in Shizuoka. ‘Gyokuro Green Tea Study’ is a newly launched tour perfect for tea lovers looking for an exclusive green tea experience. During this two hours experience, participants will get to learn all about this fine type of green tea with a tea master, starting with a visit to his private tea farm followed by a lesson on how it is grown, how to brew it correctly and with lots of opportunities to taste it too. The experience starts from JPY 31,000 (approx. £187) for two people with English interpretation included. Lunch can be arranged at an additional cost.