One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a new country is to enjoy its cuisine. With all the delicious fare Japan has to offer, food will inevitably be a huge focus of your trip. Taking a cooking class in Japan during your trip arguably offers the very best souvenir — the ability to prepare an authentic Japanese meal.
The following classes in Tokyo and Kyoto teach students the tips and tricks needed to prepare sushi, yakitori, ramen and more. Itadakimasu! (Let’s eat!)
One of the most visited sites in Tokyo is the Tsukiji Outer Market located in the city’s east side, near Tokyo Bay. This food mecca — comprised of stalls selling seafood, luxury meats, vegetables, kitchen utensils, tea leaves and more — is where the Tsukiji Cooking class (pictured above, with Michelin-star chef Master Yoshi Suzuki instructing students) begins. For the first hour, Japanese culinary instructors lead participants through the maze of food vendors, showing them how to pick the best ingredients for their meal.
Then, it’s time to cook. For two hours, culinary pros teach the group how to prepare dishes the participants choose themselves, from nigiri sushi and maki rolls to okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and ramen. By the end, you’ll be one step closer to expert-level status.
At Yumi Shinya’s cooking studio in Tokyo’s old-world Asakusa neighborhood, visitors flock to learn how to make “the most representative dishes of Japan.”
Over the course of two hours, you learn how to create home-style dishes like udon noodles, miso soup, tempura, dashimaki tamago (rolled Japanese omelets) and more.
Yumi’s studio is especially unique because there’s no age restriction, so families can come together to cook and eat side by side. “I would like to give travelers the chance to taste Japan even once they are back home,” explains the home cook, a globetrotter herself. On your way out, browse the selection of kitchen wares on Kappabashi street, which has been Tokyo’s go-to location for cooking tools for over 200 years.
Learning how to cook your own ramen is one thing, but making this noodle-and-broth soup from scratch at a Japanese ramen factory is an experience like none other. At Kyoto’s Ramen Factory (just a few blocks from the Tofukuji Station stop), students learn how to knead, roll and cut the noodle dough, season the broth — and then taste the delicious results. Instructors share their insider techniques and send students home with a souvenir t-shirt, ramen bowl or apron. Make sure to let your instructors know ahead of time whether you prefer chicken or tofu as your soup topping!