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Take a bite of Japanese cuisine with these 5 foodie cities

Japanese cuisine is well known and loved across the globe — sushi, sashimi and steaming bowls of ramen can now be found in many of the world’s major cities, including here in South Africa. Japan's cuisine, however, is so much more varied! Many of the country's signature dishes are only available within specific regions, and even the classics vary from place to place, taking on local ingredients and characteristics. 

By travelling between Japan’s great cities (and beyond), visitors can experience the true diversity of authentic Japanese cuisine. Discover all the mouth-watering flavours with Sure Travel and Costsaver — and enter to win a R500 voucher for your next meal at Simply Asia! 

When it comes to Japanese cuisine and unique travel experiences, here are 5 cities we think everyone should add to their foodie bucket list


This sprawling metropolis has a diverse food scene that varies across its distinct neighbourhoods. One of the most famous dishes in Tokyo, and indeed Japan, is of course sushi. 

Less widespread Tokyo specialties include Chanko nabe, the hearty hot pot stew eaten by sumo wrestlers, which is found in the sumo wrestling district of Ryogoku; and Monjayaki, a grilled pancake combining batter with shredded cabbage and meat or seafood, found solely in Tsukishima, the man-made island in the Tokyo Bay made from reclaimed land.


Kyoto captivates visitors with its traditional customs and remarkably rich culture, and it’s these revered traditions that are also reflected in the local Japanese cuisine. 

Perhaps the most typical culinary style to sample here is kaiseki fine dining, which – originating from the Japanese tea ceremony – consists of a series of refined courses designed to reflect the season. Shojin Ryori is also found here, and as the vegetarian cuisine of Buddhist monks, brings together small plates of tofu and the season’s produce. With the tea ceremony well established in Kyoto, colourful Japanese sweets known as wagashi are also on display in specialty shops across the city.



Held in high regard across Japan for its culinary scene, Osaka has an exceptional offering of signature street-food. The two most popular specialties are takoyaki – balls of batter containing octopus, pickled ginger and green onion – and okonomiyaki, the pancake-style dish combining batter with vegetables and seafood or meat, cooked on a hot plate at the table. 

Other signature fare to look out for includes kushikatsu, battered and deep-fried meat and vegetables served on skewers, and teppanyaki, slices of meat or seafood, cooked on a hot plate at the counter.


The Japanese soybean paste miso is a key ingredient here, and in addition to its use as an ingredient in local dishes such as ramen, it also comes grilled on magnolia leaves, with shiitake mushrooms, sliced leeks and rice. Street food snacks also use miso as their key ingredient, such as the grilled miso and soy rice dumplings, mitarashi dango. 

The local beef is famous countrywide, too, and appears in dishes like sukiyaki – thinly sliced meat and vegetables in soy sauce, sugar and mirin – and Hida beef steamed buns.


Osaka isn’t the only city known for okonomiyaki; Hiroshima has its own take on this signature fare, which combines batter with a generous serving of sliced cabbage, on top of a layer of noodles. Just like its sister version, Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki comes with plenty of toppings, but here they use ingredients that are typical to the region, most notably oysters and squid. 

Oysters are in fact one of the area’s most celebrated ingredients, and as well as being eaten raw, are fried, baked or grilled, or served on a layer of rice. Then there are the noodles, Tsukemen, which in addition to being used in okonomiyaki, are also eaten on their own, served cold and with a dipping sauce.

Japan and beyond

This is, of course, just the beginning of Japanese cuisine. Wherever you go, and in whichever season you travel, more culinary surprises lie around each corner. 

Lucky for you, Costsaver has introduced their value tours across five countries in Asia including Japan:

The 10-day Japan Discovery takes travellers to Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto, Kurashiki, Hiroshima, Himeji and Osaka. With all the essentials included (on-hand destination expert, accommodation, breakfast daily, four dinners, all the must-sees and the best way to get from A to B), all that’s left to you is tailor-make your holiday your way. Plus, there's plenty of free time leftover so you can sample the amazing cuisine of Japan along the way!

Savour the flavours with Sure

Craving a trip to Japan's foodie cities — or somewhere else in Asia? Contact your nearest Sure Travel agency to enquire or book, email bookings@suretravel.co.za, or call +27 (0)861 47 48 49. 

. . .


Why not wet your tastebuds for Asian cuisine by entering to win a R500 voucher for Simply Asia

Here's how to enter:

1. Read our blog: "Take a bite of Japanese cuisine with these 5 foodie cities". 

2. Tell us what foods are typical of Takayama (no copying and pasting!).

3. If you're entering on Facebook, put your answer in the comment section of the competition post and share the competition post on your own Facebook page – and tag a friend for an extra entry. If you're entering on Instagram, put your answer in the comment section of the competition post.

That's it! Contest ends 27 December at 23h59. Winner will be announced 28 December 2018 on social media. 

. . . 

Competition terms and conditions

The promoters of this promotion are Costsaver and Sure Travel.

1. Employees or agencies of the Promoters, affiliated companies or family members, or anyone else connected with the Prize Draw may not enter the Prize Draw. 

2. Entrants into the Prize Draw shall be deemed to have accepted these Terms and Conditions. 

3. The closing date for entries into the Prize Draw is 23h59 on 27 December 2018. Entries received outside this time period will not be considered. 

4. One winner will be chosen from of entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. The judges’ decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered in to. 

5. The promoters accept no responsibility for any costs associated with the prize and not specifically included in the prize. 

6. By submitting your entry, you agree to receive Facebook communication from the Promoters and the winner will be contacted via Facebook.

7. If the winner does not respond to the promoters by 28 December 2018, then the winner's prize will be forfeited. If a winner rejects their prize or the entry is invalid or in breach of these Terms and Conditions, the winner's prize will be forfeited and the promoters shall be entitled to select another winner. 

8. The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and is not redeemable for cash or other prizes. 

9. The Promoters retain the right to substitute the prize with another prize of similar value in the event the original prize offered is not available. 

10. The winner may be required to take part in promotional activity related to the Prize Draw and the winner shall participate in such activity on the Promoters reasonable request. The winner consents to the use by the Promoters, both before and after the closing date of the Prize Draw for an unlimited time, of the winner's name for publicity purposes, in any medium, on the internet, including any websites hosted by the Promoters and its related companies and in advertising, marketing or promotional material without additional compensation or prior notice and, in entering the Prize Draw, all entrants consent to the same. 

11. The Promoters accept no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities, injury or disappointment incurred or suffered by you as a result of entering the Prize Draw or accepting the prize.

12. Sure Travel’s standard terms and conditions apply. View full Ts and Cs here.

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