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Tokyo Food Tour

Small Town in the Big City: Tasting Tokyo’s Kichijoji

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Our food tour of Tokyo — the world’s biggest city, and perhaps its most delicious — explores the exquisite culinary heritage of a single neighborhood, Kichijoji, sampling our way through old school yakitori joints, gleaming department stores, avant grade taverns, hopping street food stands and much more.


Any attempt to fully appreciate Tokyo, a megacity of more than 20 million people, and its food scene — one that is simultaneously deeply-rooted and constantly changing — is a foolhardy mission. Before you’ve set your chopsticks down, a new trend is already taking shape just around the corner. But there are parts of greater Tokyo where the rhythm of daily culinary life is more accessible. From old specialty shops to modern department store food courts, in these neighborhoods the traditions and the communities they nurture are still identifiable. Welcome, then, to Kichijoji, small town Tokyo, where food-focused rituals unfold everyday in the shopping streets, drinking alleys and leafy parks that surround the train station.

Our food tour in this quintessential Tokyo neighborhood begins at a depachika to experience one of Tokyo’s incredible department store food halls, where food pays tribute to both tradition and the newest trends. Making our way past highly prized pickles, fruit fit for a king and the aisle of Japanese junk food, we arrive at the sushi bar of choice among locals.

Along Kichijoji’s bustling shotengai shopping street, we’ll rub elbows with locals as they shop for daily needs, learning about the basics of Japanese cuisine and tasting some of them, such as skewers of yakitori and octopus balls prepared and served street-side. We’ll meet three generations of a family of artisanal senbei makers working side by side in their tiny shop and atelier and, further down the road, we’ll visit a restaurant dedicated entirely to miso. We’ll sample unusual food rarely served outside Japan, such as sake infused with the fin of fugu, the famous puffer fish, plus expertly-crafted old standbys like tea and sweets.

Our time in Kichijoji ends at the living room of the neighborhood, a traditional yokocho drinking alley to sample sake or beer and bar snacks at an izakaya, or Japanese gastropub, designed by a modernist architect. Here we’ll be joining locals in a tradition that, though nostalgic, is as of-the-moment as it’s ever been.

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  • 2-6
  • 6 hours long
  • Monday-Friday 11:30am; Saturday 11am
  • Kichijoji
  • Culinary Backstreets
    Price: Adults x $195


Limited options for a vegetarian diet. Cannot accommodate a vegan or gluten-free diet. Samples fish and seafood. Pork is served but can be substituted. Samples alcohol


Visits a residential neighborhood. Terrain fairly flat but not stroller friendly, although children welcome
Days later and we’re still talking about this tour. It was beautifully paced, and we saw so many unique places we’d have otherwise missed.... Read more Read less
The Culinary Backstreets tour of Kichijoji was the first thing we did on our 10-day tour of Japan and it was by far the best way to start our trip. For the rest of the trip we kept referring to things we learned on the tour.... Read more Read less
We loved exploring this charming part of town and discovering wonderful tastes and people behind them. Our guide was knowledgeable and fun.... Read more Read less
What is included in the fee? In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreets tour more expensive than some other walking tours? Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for. We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work? Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $195 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
What is your cancellation policy? 90% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more. Less than 72 hours is non-refundable.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them? Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, you can book it for a supplement by selecting book entire excursion. If it is not available on booking, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk? Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at walks@culinarybackstreets.comif you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies? This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at to discuss your situation before booking. Nut and shellfish allergies have not been a problem in the past, however we cannot guarantee that the utensils and other cooking tools have not touched any of the food tour ingredients (this especially pertains to shellfish in the sushi locations). Please bring your epi pen or other meds to the tour if you choose to participate. Participants with shiso, seaweed or bell pepper allergies can join this walk.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans? Pescetarians are pretty safe to participate in the walk. Many foods in Japan that appear to be vegetable based may be prepared with a dashi (stock), which contains traces of dried fish in the stock. We will do our best to make substitutions for vegetarians but cannot guarantee that there wont be traces of dried fish in the stock.
Are your walks gluten-free? We are not able to make substitutions for those with celiacs disease as soy sauce is very prevalent in our tour stops.
How physically demanding is the walk? The walk is not very physically demanding. We take a couple of train rides but there are elevators if stairs are an issue. Most of the walk is flat and pace is slow. Unfortunately the route is not stroller-friendly as our stops are too small for strollers, so carriers are always better.
Can children join the walks? Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we charge $25 for children 6 and younger.
Is the walk stroller friendly? Tokyo is quite stroller friendly. Some areas are crowded, but Tokyo is an incredibly organized and orderly city and a stroller shouldn’t create much of a problem. Many of the places we go into might have tight spaces, so the stroller might need to stay outside or folded in a corner.
Can a participant who is pregnant join this walk? There should be no issue on our Tokyo culinary walk, but please list clearly what you would like to refrain from in your diet - please be as specific as possible in the notes of your reservation as to what you do not want to eat as everyone has a different take on what they find acceptable and not. There are things like sake and raw fish which you would need to opt out of, but the walk leader will do their best to offer suitable alternatives.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over? Our tour prices don’t include transportation to and from the tour. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own. Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How are you dealing with health and safety on your walks? We have reinforced our commitment to safety with new guidelines and have altered our routes to assure the maximum safety of our guests, guides and community while maintaining the quality of the experience. For more details on our precautions, read here.

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Age 13+
Ages 7-12
Ages 6 & under
Small Town in the Big City: Tasting Tokyo’s Kichijoji
Adults x $195
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk.
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