Scheduling a tour on our first day made us get up early and go out exploring sooner than we would have otherwise. We took a food and sake tour of Kyoto with Jason, a local of Fushimi, a town just south of Kyoto. Jason moved to the area after growing up in the Midwest and coming over for college in Tokyo. If you’re looking for an amazing, personal, fun experience in Kyoto, I’d recommend contacting JD Kai Tour and seeing about scheduling one. At $50 a person per tour, this was one of the best values of our trip.
Fushimi Food Tour
This tour took us outside of downtown Kyoto to areas tourists wouldn’t normally go. We tried foods I’d never seen available before in the US, but will seek out in the future. The softer tempura with a cod batter was delicious, as were the fresh sweet potato stuffed pancakes, squash croquettes, fresh sushi, and eel stuffed omelets.
Kyoto Sake Tour
Following the food tour, we jumped immediately into the sake tour. The Fushimi area has long been a renown center for sake in Japan. It was close to the capital, and served by the springs in the area containing an optimal mineral balance for sake. On our walk over to this tour, we spotted our first cherry blossoms of the season.
Our first stop on the tour was a liquor store where we learned the basics behind the different types of sake. My knowledge of sake was limited to dry vs sweet and filtered vs unfiltered, but Jason went more into depth about the rice milling rate, pasteurized vs unpasteurized and more.
We went to the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, home to a sake distillery founded in 1667. I wouldn’t recommend going to this museum without a guide, as the more interesting bits were in Japanese and would have been lost on us without a guide. Although, you’d still get sake, so it’s not all bad.
After we finished our sake tour (and picked a sake or two to bring back to our hotel room) we asked JD for some recommendations on what to with the last few hours of daylight. He mentioned that the famous Fushimi Inari temple was on our way back to Kyoto and was worth checking out. We hopped on the subway and made our way over there next.