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Kyoto Food Tour: Savoring Nishiki Market

Eat your way through this celebrated local market
From US$350 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
Nishiki Market
Photos & Highlights
  • Immerse yourself in traditional Japanese cuisine
  • Kyoto food tour led by a chef, writer, or food historian
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Tour Description
Kyoto would not be complete without exploring the heart of Kyoto's gourmet world: Nishiki Market. In this 3-hour Kyoto Food Tour we'll explore the market and learn about traditional Japanese food, or washoku, which has recently been placed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. As we explore washoku in Kyoto we'll challenge our taste buds and learn its ins and outs by taking in the sights and smells of this alleyway market, moving beyond typical Japanese fare to better understand this varied, nuanced cuisine.

"It was a great tour that gave a lot of insight into how cuisine in Kyoto has evolved and the socio-cultural reasons that the food is how it is. The tour was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience foods that they otherwise might pass over."

Kyoto Food Tour - From Pickled Vegetables to Sweet Japanese Treats

Kyoto's cuisine can be divided into four types: obanzai home cooking, kaiseki cuisine, which developed out of the tea ceremony, vegetarian shojin-ryori cuisine from Zen temples, and the lesser known yusoku-ryori cuisine of the imperial court. On our three-hour tour, we’ll encounter a wide range of traditional Kyoto foods and the people who make them, learning along the way about the importance of these four types of cuisine.

Nishiki Market

We will start at the birthplace of Nishiki Market: a Shinto shrine whose pure water allowed cooling in an age before refrigeration. We’ll then move on to visiting establishments specializing in Kyoto-specific foods. We may taste-test pickled vegetables (tsukemono), Japanese tea sweets (wagashi), local freshwater fish, miso and other condiments, Buddhist temple foods such as tofu and tofu skin (yuba), and traditional Kyoto vegetables (Kyo yasai). Nishiki Market is home to more than just food purveyors, so we’ll also visit some of the best cookware shops in Japan.

While meandering through the market, we’ll discover two concepts that make Kyoto cuisine so unique: the ideas of shun and umami. Shun—ingredients that have reached their seasonal peak— guides not only the ingredients in Kyoto's cuisines but also the presentation and tableware. Umami, or savoriness, is one of the five tastes detectable by the human tongue, but takes on particular importance in Japanese cuisine.

Take Aways

As we eat our way through the depths of Nishiki Market, we may stop at a sit-down restaurant, where we can further expand our own appreciation of Kyoto's food history. We'll come away from the tour not only appreciating the market itself but with a deeper understanding of Kyoto's culinary offerings.


What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the tour best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.

Will the tastings be able to accommodate food allergies or dietary restrictions?
We do our best to accommodate everyone. If you have severe allergies to seafood or nuts, there will be items you can eat during the tasting, but cross-contamination may be a problem during lunch. The best thing to do is let us know when you book if anyone in your party has allergies or dietary restrictions. We can check in on dishes, order ahead, and do everything possible to ensure you enjoy your meal.

Can we make purchases along the way?
This is not a shopping trip, however, if you would like to make a few purchases at some of the venues, your expert guide can assist you with this.

Is this tour suitable for clients with mobility issues?
The tour isn’t walking intensive, however, the market is found along a narrow lane which can be a little difficult to maneuver for wheelchair users. If you have any mobility concerns, please contact us and we can advise you on the best tour options for you.

Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan?
Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
Where You'll Start
143 Reviews (4.68)

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Ayumi is a wonderful guide - learned a lot about regional foods and loved going in to a department store to see where the locals shop, too.
Wonderful, informative and well paced tour with lots of special things to taste and learn.
John’s recommendations were absolutely spot on, especially as he worked carefully around my food allergies!