“Discover Japan” Cuisine & Culture Tour

"Discover Japan" - Luxury Cherry Blossom Cuisine & Culture Tour

Another UNIQUE Cooking Passions “Small-Group” Cuisine & Culture Journey

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– We are currently accepting “Expressions of Interest” from travellers wishing to be placed on our Pre-Notice List for details of our 2018 “Discover Japan” tour –
If visiting Japan during its famous Cherry Blossom season has been one of your “must-do” bucket list travel experiences, then we are pleased to share with our our newest Luxury Small Group “Cuisine & Culture” Journey, in which we be escorting a small group of only 10 travellers on our “Discover Japan – Luxury Cherry Blossom Cuisine & Culture” experience.  Having travelled and escorted groups all over the world, Japan is unlike anywhere else we have ever visited and remains an enigma to many.
We have designed our bespoke “Discover Japan – Luxury Cherry Blossom” journey with our personal hand-picked selections of :
to allow you to comfortably experience this incredible destination for an unforgettable, once in a lifetime Japanese holiday.

11 Days / 10 Nights of All Inclusive Japanese Luxury
Date : Tuesday 21 March 2017 to Friday 31 March 2017

¥725000pp (~$AUD9,600pp)
Double/Twin Occupancy

Cooking Passions “Small Group” Cuisine & Culture Journeys
Cooking Passions Cuisine & Culture Journeys have been designed so that you can make the most of your precious time, as we have done all of the “behind the scenes” research to scope out the finest luxury hotels, local transfers, sights, restaurants, spas & excursions, so you don’t have too. 
Each of our tours are designed so you can do as much or as little as you like, while allowing you plenty of free time to explore and immerse yourselves in the sights, shopping, relaxation and eating that YOU want to experience (we’ll be happy to provide suggestions and tips on some of our favourites from our previous trips). So all you have to do is book your preferred flight, pack a bag & a sense of adventure, and join us for an unforgettable and luxurious Japanese experience!!
Our “Discover Japan – Luxury Cherry Blossom Experience” highlights include :

“Sakura” – Cherry Blossom Japan


We have scheduled our “Discover Japan – Luxury Cherry Blossom Tour” for what many say is the best time to travel to Japan – during its enchanting “Cherry Blossom Season”.
The exact timing of the country’s iconic and dazzling spectacle is from late March to mid-April, when the beautiful shades of pink and white sakura petals blanket the country in sweetly scented splendour. The Japanese tradition of “hanami” (Flower Viewing) accompanies this special season to celebrate the beautiful, brief and fragile nature of life itself. Many Japanese believe that the blooming of the trees symbolises the transience of life and is an annual reminder that time is precious. The cherry blossom cycle is seen as a metaphor for life itself – a time to reflect on your achievements and think ahead to your future.
This is Japan’s peak season with hotel and restaurant bookings at a premium and requiring them to be made well in advance.


 Day 1 – Tuesday 21 March 2017 – TOKYO

Tokyo is a truly overwhelming city: a vibrant hub of modern civilisation, constantly buzzing with activity. Japan’s largest city and its capital since the Meiji restoration of 1868, Tokyo is a sensory bombardment and the wonderful abundance of street-level detail means there is always something to keep the attention.

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Private Airport Transfer – Upon your arrival into Haneda Airport*, we have arranged for your Private Airport Transfer to one of Tokyo’s most luxurious and exclusive 5-star hotels – The Peninsula Tokyo – which is located 40 minutes from Haneda  Airport.
*When arranging for your preferred international flights to Japan, please choose your arrival airport to be Haneda Airport which services Tokyo and your departure airport to be Kansai Airport which services Osaka & Kyoto. There is an additional cost for a Private Airport Transfer from Narita due to its additional distance from the centre of Tokyo. 
Accommodation – The Peninsula Tokyo


As well as being one of Japan’s premiere luxury hotels, there are two reasons that we have selected to stay at The Peninsula Tokyo. One is it’s outstanding location in the prestigious business district of Marunouchi, opposite Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park and on the doorstep of the famous Ginza district, Tokyo’s most fashionable and trendy neighbourhood. And secondly is that The Peninsula Tokyo’s newly appointed General Manager – Ms Sonya Vodusek, is a close family friend of ours who grew up with Belinda’s family in Yarrawonga, Victoria. Ms Vodusek is the first female to be appointed as General Manager of a Tokyo luxury hotel, and we look forward to being welcomed by Ms Vodusek’s incredible team and its legendary Peninsula service.


Your Room – The Peninsula guestrooms are among the largest (51 sqm) and most technologically advanced in Tokyo with unparalleled views of the city, the Imperial Palace Gardens and Hibiya Park. Renowned interior designer, Yukio Hashimoto, intertwines rich earth tone colours, woods, lacquer, marble and stone with design and functionality to create a luxurious living environment described as ‘international in design, but Japanese by inspiration. Your room is the epitome of modern luxury infused with traditional Japanese culture and aesthetics. The generously apportioned rooms exude a contemporary elegance that are in perfect harmony with the environment.

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A large seating area allows guests to enjoy the wide flat-screen plasma TV in cocooned comfort and the king-size bed is swathed in luxurious linens and subtly patterned silks. The modern bathroom adorned in marble and natural stone is equipped with a separate shower, deep bathtub and a spacious dressing area.
Cultural Experiences – Imperial Palace & Ginza


– Enjoy a walk around the grounds of Japan’s Imperial Palace (above), directly opposite The Peninsula Tokyo
– Take a walk around Tokyo’s most fashionable and trendy district – Ginza (below) – and visit some of the biggest names in fashion in the world.


Culinary Experience – Kaiseki Welcome Dinner
19:00pm – Group Welcome Kaiseki Dinner – Kaiseki is Japanese cuisine in its most refined form. A kaiseki meal consists of course upon course of masterfully-prepared dishes featuring seasonal and local specialties. Tonight we will experience Japan’s centuries old kaiseki traditions, with a modern twist. Modern kaiseki draws on a number of traditional Japanese cuisines, notably four traditions: imperial court cuisine, Buddhist cuisine of temples, samurai cuisine of warrior households and tea ceremony cuisine.


Accommodation: The Peninsula Tokyo
(Included Meals : D)
Day 2 – Wednesday 22 March 2017 – Old & New Tokyo
– Breakfast at your leisure
08:30am – Meet in the lobby to begin our exploration of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities and some of its most well known cultural attractions and districts. After a brief lesson on how to use Tokyo’s fantastic public transport system, Nico & Belinda will accompany the group for a bird’s eye view of Tokyo, where we may even be rewarded with a view of Mt Fuji from the top of the Tokyo Skytree.
The famous districts we will be visiting today include:
Cultural Experiences – Old & New Tokyo






Cuisine Experiences – Tonkatsu & Japan’s Michelin Option
16:00pm – Remainder of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. Take the opportunity for a rest in your Peninsula room or indulge in a relaxing swim in the hotel’s 20 metre indoor swimming pool and spa complex.
pm – Evening at your leisure. For those not wishing to visit a Michelin restaurant this evening, we can visit a local traditional izakaya or sushi restaurant close to the hotel.
Accommodation: The Peninsula Tokyo
(Included Meals : B, L)
Day 3 – Thursday 23 March 2017- Tokyo
– Breakfast at your leisure
9:00am – Meet in the lobby for the short walk to the Tsukiji Fish Market’s* “Outer Market”, known as Japan’s “Food Town,” where one can encounter all of Japan’s traditional foods. A mixture of wholesale and retail shops along with numerous restaurants line the streets, this is where Japan’s new culinary trends are said to be born.
* With Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market and famed tuna auction will be relocating from it’s central Ginza location in November 2016 to accommodate the redevelopment of this area. Tsukiji’s Outer Market should still remain, however there might not be the possibility of visiting the new fish market’s new location.
10:00am – We will then continue to the Nihonbashi (“Japan Bridge”) district one of Tokyo’s oldest commercial districts. It is from this “Japan Bridge” that all mileage markers across Japan are commenced from. We will also have a quick look at one of Japan’s oldest department stores – Mitsukoshi – also known as “The Harrods of Japan”.
Sakura Ueno Park
11:00am – Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular and lively cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway and lake. The cherry blossoms are usually in bloom during late March and early April and attract large numbers of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties. The park is also home to many museums including the Tokyo National Museum. After a walk around the grounds to view what Cherry Blossoms are blooming, you will have the opportunity to visit the Tokyo National Museum, before having the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
pm – Afternoon at your leisure. Relax back at The Peninsula Tokyo or we can suggest some other areas of Tokyo that you may like to explore.
19:30pm – Depart the hotel to experience dinner at a typical, Japanese-style Izakaya (Japanese Gastropub) restaurant for a quintessential Japanese dining experience of great food and drink amongst local Japanese.
Cultural Experiences
Cuisine Experiences
Accommodation: The Peninsula Tokyo
(Included Meals : B, D)
Day 4 – Friday 24 March 2017 – Nara – Japan’s Ancient Capital
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
8:30am – Check out from our hotel for departure by local train and Japan’s famous Shinkansen Bullet train to Nara, Japan’s ancient capital.
13:00pm – Check in to our hotel – Fujitsu Nara Hotel
Accommodation – Fujita Nara Hotel
– The 3-star Fujita Nara Hotel is conveniently located to allow us to walk to most of Nara’s treasured sites and is only a short walk from the Kintetsu Nara Train station.
14:00pm – Walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage ancient city of Nara, second only to Kyoto as the richest collection of traditional sites including:
7:30pm – Dinner at a traditional Japanese “tempura” restaurant
Cultural Experiences
Culinary Experience
Accommodation: Fujita Nara Hotel
(Included Meals : B, D)
Day 5 – Saturday 25 March 2017 – Kyoto – Japan’s Cultural Jewel
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
9:00am – Check out from our hotel for departure by local train to Kyoto, one of Japan’s most culturally celebrated cities.
Kyoto – With Zen gardens, bamboo groves, Buddhist temples and geisha shuffling along cobbled laneways, Kyoto seems to be lifted straight from the scenes of an ancient Japanese woodblock print. Kyoto is the epicenter of Japanese culture and history and one of the most fascinating of Asian cities. Founded in 794 as Japan’s capital, it is home to over 15 World Heritage sites which all are associated with traditional Japan including stunning temples and shrines, mysterious geisha, Zen rock gardens, imperial palaces, refined cuisine, ornate kimono, and centuries-old bamboo groves.
Accommodation – Hotel Gracery Kyoto
– Newly opened in July 2016, the 4-star Hotel Gracery Kyoto is located in the Teramachi Shopping Arcade area, one of Kyoto’s shopping districts and Kyoto’s famous Nishiki Food Market. The historic street is lined by numerous long-established shops that have been handed down from generation to generation.
12noon – After dropping our bags off at our hotel, we will meet our English-speaking Japanese guide to get a start on visiting some of Kyoto’s most important World Heritage-listed treasures.
13:00pm – Visit to Kyoto’s famous  Kiyomizu-dera Temple followed by Fushimi Inari Shrine and it’s thousands of torii gates.
19:00pm – Dinner at Japanese French Bistro
Accommodation: The Gracery Kyoto
(Included Meals : B, D)
Cultural Experiences
Culinary Experiences
Day 6 – Sunday 26 March 2017 – Kyoto – Japan’s Cultural Jewel
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
9am – Meet in the lobby to continue our exploration of  more of Kyoto’s most impressive and visually stunning cultural icons.
Culinary Experiences
Cultural Experiences
Culinary Experiences
Accommodation: The Gracery Kyoto
(Included Meals : B, L, D)
Day 7 – Monday 27 March 2016 – Classic Japanese Ryokan Experience – Kinosaki
am – Breakfast at your leisure.
10:00am – Check out from our Kyoto hotel for departure by local train to Kinosaki, situated on the Sea of Japan in Central Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture.
Kinosaki – with over 1400 years of tradition, Kinosaki is one of Japan’s top onsen (hot spring resort) destinations. This charming 8th century town, with its seven unique public hot spring baths and dozens of onsen ryokan accommodations, is the place to sample the quintessential onsen ryokan experience. For hundreds of years, Kinosaki has been known throughout Japan as a hot spring town. Putting on yukata (light cotton kimono) & geta (wooden clogs) to visit each of the town’s seven public hot springs – each with its own unique style – has become a storied tradition of visitors to Kinosaki. In addition to its famous public hot springs, Kinosaki is also known for its mouthwatering cuisine, including Japan’s famous Matsuba Crab which is sourced daily through November to March from the waters of the Sea of Japan, and Hyogo Prefecture’s Tajima Beef, the stock cattle of the world famous Kobe beef.
14:00pm – Check in to Nishimuraya Honkan, our luxury ryokan accommodation during our stay in Kinosaki.
Accommodation – Nishimuraya Honkan
Nishimuraya Honkan is one of Japan’s most exclusive & historical ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) which has been in operation for over seven generations. Boasting a history of over 150 years, this luxurious hot spring inn’s maze-like layout lends a sense of privacy, includes traditional style Japanese guest rooms with views over the ryokan’s expansive Japanese garden; relaxing indoor & outdoor hot spring; and a private gallery of art and historical artifacts.
The centre of any stay at a ryokan is the food. The culinary artisans of Nishimuraya are renowned for their Japanese-style Kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) degustations. A kaiseki meal is like no other Japanese meal you have ever experienced. Personal, elaborate, varied, and most importantly, incredibly delicious! There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying dish after dish of wonderfully delicious seasonal Japanese food after an evening at the hot springs.
16:00pm – After checking into your traditional ryokan Japanese tatami room, the remainder of the afternoon is free for you to start exploring Kinosaki and its “Seven Hot Springs” which are open to the public. The ryokan will provide you with your traditional yukata (light cotton kimono), and a jacket in cooler weather, so that you can join the locals while strolling the cherry blossomed & willow-lined streets of town. In Kinosaki Onsen, it is tradition for visitors to wear yukata while they are staying. It is a common sight to see people out shopping, eating at restaurants, and strolling through the town while wearing yukata. To complete the look, slip on a pair of geta (Japanese wooden sandals) also provided by your ryokan. If you find geta difficult, you can also walk in flatter sandals or your shoes.
19:00pm – Culinary Experience – Ryokan Kaiseki Dinner
Kaiseki is a multi course meal of various Japanese foods that is similar to haute cuisine. A kaiseki meal is like no other Japanese meal you have ever experienced with each varying course and dish presented in an artistic fashion.
Our visit to Kinosaki coincides with the end of Japan’s famous Matsuba Crab fishing season, which runs from November 7th to March 31st. Its location near the Sea of Japan provides Kinosaki Onsen with bountiful access to the fluffy and mouth watering Matusba Crab, a type of snow crab. We will experience a whole new world of culinary tastes with Nishimuraya’s famous Matsuba Crab Kaiseki (classic Japanese degustation) dinner. Matsuba crab served at Nishimuraya Honkan are taken direct from the local ports of Tsuiyama and Shibayama to allow guests to experience the freshest taste possible. Nishimuraya’s Executive Chef, Etsunobu Takahashi, and his culinary team will present Kinosaki’s famous Matsuba crab served in a variety of styles such as sashimi, boiled, grilled, and hot pot.
pm – Following our Kaiseki dinner, upon returning to your room you will find your futon, Japanese style bedding, laid out and prepared for you.
Accommodation: Nishimuraya Honkan
Included Meals : B, D)
Day 8 – Tuesday 28 March 2016 – Classic Japanese Ryokan Experience – Kinosaki
am – Enjoy a leisurely Japanese breakfast (below) served in the comfort & privacy of your ryokan room.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore & relax in the quaint village of Kinosaki. Enjoy a walk along the willow and cherry-blossom lined canal that runs through the town centre. Stop into one of the public onsen for a relaxing soak, or take a seat and soak your feet in one of the streetside hot spring footpaths.
19:00pm – Culinary Experiences – Ryokan Kaiseki Dinner
Following on from our Matsuba Crab kaiseki dinner from the previous evening, tonight we will experience another of the regions most famous products with Nishimuraya Honkan’s Tajima Beef kaiseki dinner. Most people would recognise Kobe Beef as the number one beef in Japan, and perhaps the world. The name “Tajima” refers to the region of the Northern Hyogo prefecture, in which Kinosaki is part of, with Tajima beef the stock cattle for this world famous Kobe beef. Specially bred Tajima cattle are known for their tender and flavorful meat with well marbled textures.
Cultural Experience.
Culinary Experience
Accommodation: Nishimuraya Honkan
Included Meals : B, D)
Day 9 – Wednesday 29 March 2016 – Arashiyama (West Kyoto)
am – Breakfast followed by check out from Nishimraya Honkan for our return train travel to West Kyoto and the stunningly beautiful and magical atmosphere of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Arashiyama – Set along the flowing Hozu River, Arashiyama is a welcome natural retreat from nearby bustling Kyoto. Dating back to 794, when Kyoto, then called Heian-kyo, became home to the imperial court. Arashiyama flourished as a summer and holiday retreat for court nobles attracted to its scenic charms.
14:00pm – Check into our final accommodation The Suiran (A Luxury Collection Hotel)
Accommodation – The Suiran (A Luxury Collection Hotel)
The Suiran presides on the very riverside property that was especially favored for its sweeping view of the Arashiyama hills by Kyoto’s ancient imperial court. The Suiran is set along the peaceful Hozu River, and provides an authentic Japanese-style experience at this historic site. This luxury retreat is an intimate collection of 39 guestrooms, inspired by traditional Japanese touches and culture offering a truly enriching and indigenous experience.

Your Room –  Inspired by the Moon, Suiran’s rooms (39-49 sq m) are furnished with contemporary designed furniture designed in the image of the moon. Moonlit river surface textured carpet and the wall hanged light shaped like the moon beautifully decorate the room. The jade-green “Shigaraki” pottery basin bowl is one of the remarkable icons of this room.


14:00pm – The Suiran is wonderfully located with Arashiyama’s famous ancient Bamboo Grove situated almost on its doorstep. Following check in we will take the short walk along the renowned Hozu River to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, witnessing the luminous pink Sakura blossoms set amongst the hills of the region.
16:00pm – Champagne pre-dinner drinks at The Suiran’s Café Hassui, housed in a 100-year-old building erected for 19th century Japanese poets The idyllically situated café along the Hozu River offers panoramic views of the enchanting Arashiyama hills and its blush of spring cherry blossoms during spring.
18:00pm – Tonight we will enjoy an early dinner of Japan’s famous Soba (Buckwheat) Noodles at a nearby riverside restaurant.
Cultural Experiences
  • Visit to Arashiyama’s famous Bamboo Grove
Culinary Experience
  • Traditional Japanese Soba Noodles
Accommodation: The Suiran
(Included Meals : B, D)
Day 10 – Thursday 30 March 2016 – Arashiyama (West Kyoto)
– Breakfast at your leisure
10:00am – Guided tour of Arashiyama’s most famous site the Tenryu-ji Temple, followed by a leisurely walk around some of the regions other beautiful sites.


  • Gio-ji Temple is one of the most scenic spots in Arashiyama. The thatched-roof main hall overlooking a moss-covered grotto is a magical sight.
  • Okochi Sanso Villa– is the two-hectare former estate of Denjiro Okochi (1898-1962), Japan’s most famous silent film star. It’s “spiral-garden” and the views from Mt. Ogura, where Okochi Sanso lies, have been celebrated in classical poetry since Heian times.
pm – Remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. Enjoy your last day with a relaxing  Private Onsen bath in one of The Suiran’s two private onsen baths – Raku (Hinoki Cypress Bathtub) and An (Natural Stone Bathtub). These serene private retreats look over small Japanese gardens inspired by the revered Sagano Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama.

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16:00pm – Champagne pre-dinner drinks at The Suiran’s Café Hassui.
19:00pm – Final Group Dinner will take place in The Suiran’s “Kyo-Suiran” restaurant. Originally erected in 1899 as Baron Shozo Kawasaki’s summerhouse, Kyo-Suiran combines Meiji Era architecture with contemporary Japanese design.



“Kyo-Suiran” restaurant offers guests the opportunity to try contemporary Japanese Kaiseki and Teppanyaki classics. Authentic Japanese cooking methods are combined with inspired French disciplines to create indelible memories.

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Accommodation: The Suiran
(Included Meals : B, D)
Day 11 – Friday 31 March 2016 – Departure (Kansai Airport)
– Breakfast at your leisure
10:00am – Check out from The Suiran prior to transfer to Kansai Airport for your departure. Kansai Airport is located about 110 minutes by car away from The Suiran. Alternative transfers can be arranged at your request.
(Included Meals : B)
¥725000pp (~$AUD9,600pp*)
Double/Twin Occupancy
(*$1AUD = ¥76)
The following is INCLUDED in the price:

*Due to its further distance from Central Tokyo, there is an additional charge for a Private Airport Transfer from Narita Airport (90 minutes from Tokyo) of ¥10700 (~$AUD150) per car. 

The following is NOT INCLUDED in the price:
BOOKING DEADLINE* : 15 November 2016
*As accommodation and travel are at their premium during Japan’s Sakura (Cherry Blossom Season), due to the limited rooms available at our selected Luxury Boutique hotels, bookings must be secured by November 15th 2016 so that we can confirm them with our accommodation providers. We trust this meets with your understanding.
To secure your places, please contact Nico Moretti at nico@urbanprovider.com.au or 08 9228 0507, and we will forward you a Cooking Passions Booking Form, or Download a BOOKING FORM below:
Booking Deadline: 15 November 2016
Booking Deposit: A $AUD1200 BOOKING DEPOSIT is required to hold a booking for the tour, at the time of your reservation.
Final Payment: Payment in full is required at least 60 days prior to departure (Payment Due : 21 January 2017)
We look forward to hosting you on this very special “Discover Japan”  experience! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us.
Arigato gozaimas,
Nico & Belinda Moretti
Cooking Passions Cooking School
267 Vincent Street, LEEDERVILLE WA 6007
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