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This exciting and luscious small group journey led by chef Michael Ryan, takes you through a fascinating culinary and cultural discovery of Japan with time spent in the vibrant cities.


This exciting Japanese food tour led by chef Michael Ryan will take you on an exploration of this dynamic country’s cuisine. Michael is one of regional Australia’s most respected and highly awarded chefs. His passion for Japanese cuisine is evident in his culinary style at Provenance and regular pilgrimages to Japan.

Concentrating on revealing the culinary and cultural highlights in the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the tour will be also include some relaxation time at delightful Arcana on the Izu Peninsula.

We will dine in a variety of fabulous restaurants chosen by Michael from traditional local bars to Michelin star restaurants and modern cutting-edge establishments that are expanding the boundaries of traditional cuisine.

We spend time exploring local food markets and the extraordinary food halls in Tokyo’s most elegant department stores. We learn the pleasures of home style cooking at a private cooking class in the comfort of a relaxed environment.

In Kyoto visit the Nishiki market, the Gion District of old Kyoto and enjoy a day at riverside Arashiyama exploring the stunning gardens.

Accommodation includes the Mandarin Oriental and Park Hyatt Hotels in Tokyo and the Hotel Kanra in Kyoto.  We’re whisked around the country using the hi-speed Shinkansen or bullet trains, enjoying the exemplar system Japan is world renowned for.

This is an enchanting journey of luxury, culinary adventure and cultural encounter; a complete immersion into Japanese culture and cuisine and not to be missed.

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is one of regional Australia’s most respected chefs. With his partner Jeanette Henderson, Michael is the owner of Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth, in north-east Victoria. Provenance, in its first year of operation, picked up a chef’s hat in the Good Food Guide and was awarded Best New Country Restaurant in the same publication. The restaurant has since gone on to receive two hats every year. In 2013, Provenance won Best Regional Restaurant and Michael Ryan was named Chef of the Year. In 2014, Provenance was awarded Regional Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller.

Michael initially studied Science at Adelaide University and after several years working in the field of chemistry, was drawn to cooking. After a six-month break travelling in Japan and developing a passion for the food, Michael commenced restaurant work in his home town of Adelaide. His experience since then has spanned the Greville bar in Melbourne, The King River Café in Milawa, The Milawa Cheese Factory and his first venture with partner Jeanette, Range in Myrtleford where he won two chefs hats from the The Age Good Food Guide, as well as Country Restaurant of the year in 2008.

At Provenance, Michael has expanded his culinary style by exploring textures and investigating different techniques of food preparation. While continuing to balance the aspects of the culinary traditions in which he has worked, Michael has also proceeded to incorporate more Asian influences in his food, always remaining respectful of the cuisines from which they are drawn. In particular, regular trips to Japan have proved a constant source of new inspiration. Aside from maintaining the integrity of his food, Michael states that his aim is to avoid stagnation, and to keep moving forward through experimentation.

* Please note – The restaurants outlined in the day to day itinerary below may change prior to departure. As Michael travels regularly to Japan researching new food opportunities, he may wish to introduce you to his new culinary discoveries.

How itUnfolds

DAY DAY 1: TOKYO

Arrival day in vibrant Tokyo.
At 10am we meet in the foyer of our spectacular hotel for a quick briefing with tour leaders, Jennifer Wilkinson and Michael Ryan. From here we venture out to explore our local neighbourhood, Marunouchi.

Our first foray into Tokyo cuisine is an exquisite dining experience at one of Michael's favourite Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo.

We return to our hotel late in the afternoon where you can enjoy a relaxed evening.

DAY DAY 2: TOKYO

This morning we venture out with our guide to visit the Meiji shrine in the forest of 120,000 trees of 365 species.

For lunch today we enjoy tempura and continue on to explore the Omotesando shopping precinct. From here, we'll take a walk and admire the buildings nearby designed by some of Japan's most prominent architects, concluding at the Nezu art museum.

Tonight is an intimate and delightful affair at one of the first restaurants to bring casual fine dining to Tokyo.

DAY DAY 3: TOKYO - KYOTO

After breakfast we travel by train to Kyoto. This afternoon we explore the iconic Nishiki Market, which lines a narrow road for almost 400 metres.

Tonight we dine at a popular Kyoto restaurant specialising in yakitori.

DAY DAY 4: KYOTO

We meet our guide this morning and depart for Arashiyama on the outskirts of Kyoto.
The Arashiyama district is a popular tourist and recreational area with temples, gardens, restaurants and a silk crepe workshop. We also take a walk along the Bamboo Grove path to the Okochi Sanso villa and garden, with views across the entire city.

Enjoy a free afternoon and evening exploring the lively local area, which offers some excellent shopping.

DAY DAY 5: KYOTO

This morning we travel southeast to the Miho Museum, situated on a forested hillside.
Described as an architectural wonder, the striking structure integrates into the surroundings with the use of steel, glass and stone providing a dramatic contrast to the lush environment.

We return to Kyoto by late afternoon. Dinner this evening will be at a fabulous restaurant that serves Italian cuisine served with a Japanese twist.

Photo: Kiyohiko Higashide

DAY DAY 6: KYOTO - NARA - OSAKA

After check out we depart for our next location, the fascinating city of Osaka. En-route, we'll stop by the ancient capital of Japan, Nara. Renowned for its numerous shrines and buildings registered as monuments of national significance, we take time to visit the Todaiji Temple, a world heritage site and home to the biggest bronze Buddha in the world.

We continue our journey to Osaka, the nation's third largest city and our home for the next two nights. Tonight you are free to enjoy the city's delights as you wish.

DAY DAY 7: OSAKA

Today is devoted to exploring the food scene in Osaka. We visit the famous fish market, tasting fresh sushi. We return to the hotel for some free time in the afternoon before heading out to the brightly lit, lively district of Dotombori for the evening.

DAY DAY 8: OSAKA - IZU PENINSULA

This morning after breakfast we travel by train to the Izu Peninsula. The Izu Peninsula, with its scenic and mountainous interior dotted with thermal baths, offers an experience in sharp contrast to the pace of Tokyo.

DAY DAY 9: IZU PENINSULA

After a relaxed breakfast we join our guide for a day of touring through the verdant interior to the south eastern Izu Peninsula. Highlights include a drive through the Amagi Mountain area to reach the Kawazu Nanadaru (Seven Waterfalls). We also visit one of the region's famous wasabi fields, and time permitting, the historic Shuzenji Temple.

DAY DAY 10: IZU PENINSULA - TOKYO

After a leisurely breakfast, we travel by Shinkansen for our journey back to Tokyo.
This afternoon we check in to our fabulous hotel, our home for the final two nights of our journey. This afternoon you have free time to explore its renowned shopping district or visit one of the local museums. Enjoy a free night to explore the city's nightlife.

DAY DAY 11: TOKYO

Today we are spoilt for choice, and have the option of enjoying a relaxed breakfast before venturing out to off beat Kappabashi Street to peruse the restaurant supply shops selling everything from knives, crockery and cookware to quirky gadgets and plastic display food.

Following this, we enjoy a cooking class and lunch.

Our farewell dinner this evening will be at one of Tokyo's finest restaurants, and an Epicurious Travel favourite.

DAY DAY 12: DEPART TOKYO

After breakfast and check out, the day is enjoyed at your own leisure ahead of departures for your onward journey.

Meet your Guide:

Michael Ryan – Japan & North East Victoria

Michael Ryan is one of regional Australia’s most respected chefs. With partner Jeanette Henderson, he is the owner of Provenance Restaurant in…

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Meet your Guide:

Jennifer Wilkinson Owner / Director

Jennifer has a life-long passion for food, wine and travel. Following a successful career in economics and industrial relations, she left…

Meet more of our guides

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GuestStories

  • If you want to grow to love Japanese culture and cuisine you can do no better than travel with Michael and Jennifer. Eclectic group with lots of laughs. The hotels, Michelin starred restaurants and local restaurants chosen with care and the most wonderful locations selected to stay outside Tokyo and Kyoto. All our questions about food and places handled with a freshness that suggested they had never been asked before!

    Culinary Japan with Michael Ryan, Glenn and Hazel Rees May 2019

  • From the initial booking to the farewell drink at the New York Bar in Tokyo at the Park Hyatt, we could not of hoped for a better experience. A pleasure to travel with Jennifer, who lead us on a journey of a lifetime, to places and restaurants we could not imagine. New friends made and incredible memories forever.

    Danny and Cindy Gilbert – A Culinary Journey to Japan with Michael Ryan May 2018

  • A great way to sample the food and culture of an amazing country.

    David Baker – A Culinary Journey of Japan with Michael Ryan May 2018

  • Michael Ryan is an excellent host and provided his guests with insight into Japanese customs and culture as well as enabling us to enjoy outstanding restaurant experiences which would not otherwise have been available to us. His gentle, insightful comments and willingness to share his deep knowledge of Japanese cuisine were much appreciated and it was clear that he is held in very high esteem by the top Japanese chefs who welcomed us warmly. Tour Leader Jennifer ably managed all logistics and was charming company in addition to having chosen outstanding accommodation. This was a really special tour experience.

    Jane Garvey – A Culinary Journey to Japan with Michael Ryan May 2017

  • Despite having lived in Japan for 2 years, the trip was a fantastic cultural experience that exceeded my expectations. Michael Ryan was a warm and engaging host, he was very generous in sharing his deep knowledge of and passion for Japan. We were privileged to meet his network of local food and sake experts, who showcased the best of modern and traditional Japan. Overall, the trip was great value!

    Stephen Jones – A culinary journey to Japan with Michael Ryan