Discover authentic Japan through the varied cuisine of its regions

With over 1.4 million diverse dining outlets across the country’s 47 prefectures, from restaurants offering contemporary cuisine to farmhouse dining, foreign visitors to Japan can enjoy an endless journey of culinary discovery!

For many travelers, experiencing the local cuisine is one of the highlights of a trip away from home. A survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency in 2019 revealed that eating Japanese food and tasting Japanese sake were among the activities potential visitors to Japan were most looking forward to.

Food tourism is a booming phenomenon. The World Tourism Organization defines it as “tourism activity characterized by visitors‘ culinary experiences and related activities.’ Activities include visiting local producers, attending food festivals and attending cooking classes. Food tourism thus helps to protect local traditions and maintain culinary diversity.

The decline in hunting activity in Japan, coupled with the increasing amount of abandoned land in the countryside, has boosted the wildlife population, leading to increased crop damage in cultivated areas. As a result, a nationwide movement to use game such as deer and wild boar as food sources garnered support, with the French word game now commonly used by the Japanese to refer to the meat of hunted wild animals.

The Nishi-Awa region, in a mountainous area of ​​Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku, is well known for its ancient hillside farming methods and its people’s coexistence with nature. Communities in the region are working to mitigate the damage caused by wild animals by promoting their meat as a tourist attraction.

The Uribo minshuku lodge offers guests game dishes, and in winter they can even try their hand at hunting. The owners take the opportunity to educate their guests on the agricultural lifestyles of the region.

The Hida Takayama area in Gifu Prefecture is famous for its Shirakawa-go UNESCO World Heritage Site. Takayama City has been awarded three stars by the Michelin Green Guide Japan for its old town landscape, with wooden buildings reminiscent of the Edo period. Quality rice is grown in the region, which is also blessed with a rich mountain water supply; these are combined to produce a fragrant sake. In Takayama City, there are seven sake breweries located within a 100-meter radius, including Hirase, the oldest in town, which has been producing sake since 1623; tourists can visit them and try sake while strolling through the historic streets. Hida is also famous for its Hida beef, which visitors can enjoy with local sake.

In Gero, just 60 km south of Hida Takayama, is the small, isolated village of Maze, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in Japan. The Maze River that runs through it is teeming with ayu (sweet fish), found only in the cleanest rivers and streams. Designated as a “green” tourism hub, the village’s Nishimura district offers programs that allow visitors to experience an authentic rural lifestyle through guided tours and hands-on experiences such as fishing and cooking. Eating freshly caught sweet fish is the ultimate pastime in much of the Japanese countryside!

Nara Prefecture, the former political and religious heart of Japan, will host the 7th UNWTO Global Forum on Food Tourism in June 2022. This event aims to promote exchanges and collaboration between tourism and food industry experts. gastronomy, with participants sharing best practices and promoting gastronomic tourism. as a contributor to sustainable development.

With over 1.4 million diverse dining outlets across the country’s 47 prefectures, from restaurants offering contemporary cuisine to farmhouse dining, foreign visitors to Japan can enjoy an endless journey of culinary discovery!

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