Eat and Soak Your Way Around Japan on an Onsen Gastronomy Tour

onsen japan man
John S. Lander/Getty Images

Few destinations are as alluring to Western travelers as Japan. The culture is ancient and mysterious; the landscape is remarkably diverse for a relatively small island country; and its people are kind, humble, and unbelievably generous, even to outsiders. Walk Japan, one of our favorite walking tour companies, just announced two niche tours designed to take visitors into the beating heart of Japanese culture.

We’ve long been fans of slow travel here at The Manual because there’s no better way to truly experience a destination than on foot. Nowhere is this truer than Japan. From samurai and geisha to sushi and sake, every element of the country’s rich, sophisticated culture has evolved over thousands of years. While fascinating, it can feel challenging and opaque to even the heartiest traveler. Walk Japan offers guided, long-distance walking tours that immerse visitors in a relaxed, meaningful way.

This year, the company has partnered with Japan’s Onsen and Gastronomy Tourism Association to offer one-of-a-kind tours that combine two of the country’s most iconic cultural aspects. Both are five-day, four-night itineraries that combine the country’s unique cuisine with its love of onsen baths. The Oita and Kumamoto itinerary explores Japan’s westernmost island of Kyushu, while the Gifu and Nagano tour treks Honshu in Central Japan. Each region is distinct with its own cuisine and local flavor.

Tour-goers spend their days walking up to six miles per day through some of Japan’s most beautiful rural landscapes. These are areas rarely seen by outsiders, including stunning waterfalls, ancient shrines, lush valleys, remote mountain scenery, and traditional Japanese towns. Each tour is led by an expert, bilingual guide every step of the way. Nights are spent in small bed-and-breakfasts or traditional Japanese inns. Most offer private onsens where guests can partake nightly in one of the most quintessential elements of Japanese culture. Locals have relied on these hot spring mineral baths for millennia for their restorative powers.

These unique gastronomy tours also focus on Japan’s world-class cuisine. From just-caught sushi to rice to locally grown vegetables, the country’s food is among the freshest in the world. Japanese attention to high-quality ingredients is matched by their intricate food presentation where every dish feels like a work of art.

Both tours are available to book now with limited travel dates this fall. The Onsen Gastronomy: Gifu and Nagano itinerary takes place October 16-20, 2019 with a base price of approximately $2,700 per person. Travelers can explore Onsen Gastronomy: Oita and Kumamoto November 12-16, 2019, for around $2,500. Prices include all accommodations and most food, plus entrance fees, ground transportation, and luggage transfers. The only other thing tour-goers need to do is figure out how to get to Japan.

Food & Drink

What is Sous Vide Cooking? Here’s What You Need to Know

Chef Tyson Ho explains what sous vide cooking is and how you can cook the perfect steak in some hot water.
Food & Drink

Portion Control: The Best Meal Prep Containers on the Market

Your choice of container should be dictated by your lifestyle and fitness expectations.

Sweden’s Viking-Inspired Arctic Bath Is Now Taking Reservations

This retro-future, floating hotel spa is straight out of Westeros.

What Americans Need to Know Before Traveling to Cuba

Heading to Cuba? Don't be caught unprepared -- here are the essential things every American should know.

Travel 2,200 Miles on an Extreme, 18-Day Mystery Tour from Tehran to Istanbul

Make sure your travel vaccinations are up to date and get ready for one hell of a ride.

Airstream Brings Back 2 of Its Most Popular and Affordable Travel Trailers

These two Kennedy-era Airstream trailers are among the most popular of all time. Even better? They're price tags aren't too steep.

Norway’s Manshausen Island Resort is a Minimalist Retreat Founded by a Real-Life Explorer

Now that you're getting older, it's time to find a place where you can actually relax. Our choice? Manshausen Island resort in Norway. Yes, it takes 20 hours to get there, but it's so worth it.

Find the Most Unique, Undiscovered Campsites in the U.S. With Hipcamp

Booking the perfect campsite doesn't have to suck anymore.

12 Most Over-the-Top Hotel Pools for Extravagant Views

From an infinity pool high above Santorini to a two-story waterhole in the rainforests of Bali, these are the best hotel pools across the globe.

You Need a Vacation: 5 Midwestern Camp-Style Lodges Where You Can Unplug

Believe it or not, rustic woodland getaways still exist. We've pulled together a shortlist of the finest hotels located within some of the country's most beautiful, largely overlooked natural settings.

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?

Travelers Can Now Bring Some CBD Products on Airplanes (Sort of)

Technically, the TSA is cool with it, but like everything the government touches, it's not as simple as it appears.

This New York Hotel Is Actually a 3D-Printed Mars Habitat

We can't yet escape the sea of humanity here on Earth, but this might be the next best thing.

Trek the Arctic Circle Like a WWII Soldier with Ex-U.K. Special Forces

Because some travelers appreciate doing a hard thing just for the sheer pride of knowing they did it.