Itinerary Inspo: Solo Travel Exploring Culture and Food
Traveling solo is a special way to experience the world. Daunting to some, Ciara Johnson finds it invigorating — so much so that she encourages others to explore the world with her solo adventures. Making her way through Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto, Ciara’s itinerary digs deep into Japanese culture and food. It’s perfect inspiration for anyone looking to cultivate memory-making moments and truly immerse themselves in unique experiences.
Tokyo Cooking Studio
Why just order ramen when you can learn how to make it? At Tokyo Cooking Studio, cooks of all skill levels can learn the art of ramen-making from Chef Yukari Matsushita. Over the course of three hours students will make a chicken broth base ramen with chicken chashu and ramen eggs, as well as pork gyoza and black sesame ice cream. Classes are limited to just six students at a time, which leaves plenty of opportunity for hands-on instruction. Looking to learn even more? Chef Yukari offers several other courses, including a vegetarian ramen and gyoza class.
Website: Tokyo Cooking Studio
Hakone Open Air Museum
Spend a few hours wandering amongst sculptures set against the incredible landscape of the Hakone mountains. As Japan’s first outdoor, open-air museum of art, it is home to 120 modern and contemporary masterpieces. Don’t miss “Symphonic Sculpture” by Gabriel Loire, which is like climbing inside a 60-foot kaleidoscope of stained glass. While the grounds are impressively dotted with large-scale installations, five buildings offer indoor exhibits — with many visitors flocking to the Picasso Pavillion, which rotates through 300 of his works.
Website: Hakone Open Air Museum
1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407
Experience the beauty and culture of a traditional hotel stay at Kijitei Hoeiso. Over 300 years ago this traditional style structure was built in Hida Takayama. Just 50 years ago it was relocated to Hakone and set along the river with an impeccable view of the mountains. Now a ryokan with just 18 rooms, Kijitei Hoeiso offers guests a serene escape thanks to scenic open air hot spring baths and rooms with views of the garden, mountain or river.
Website: Kijitei Hoeiso
227 Yumotochaya, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0312
Tea Ceremony KOTO
Tea carries a rich and beautiful history. Its significance in Japanese culture cannot be undersold, making the experience of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony an excellent itinerary addition. Set in a private house, discover the art and beauty of this cultural anchor by attending an educational ceremony. Not only are guests taught about the tea itself, but the symbolism and etiquette woven throughout the ceremony. At KOTO, guests can don kimonos and tour gardens, adding to the already memorable experience.
Website: Tea Ceremony KOTO
Those looking to find Kyoto’s best flavors need not look further than Nishiki Market. This bustling shopping district may only be five blocks long, but it is bursting with vendors dishing out some truly incredible food. With the first shop opening in 1310, the market has been a culinary destination for centuries. Thanks to plentiful small food carts and massive shops, there is something for everyone in the Nishiki Market. While a typical grocery run might not be necessary, don’t leave without trying Kyoto’s specialties — namely the candies, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.
Website: Nishiki Market