Made in Japan: Cultural Curiosities

Made in Japan: Cultural Curiosities

From US$ 61.79 per person

Explore hidden shops that sell traditional items not commonly found in modern-day Japan. Sample old-world sweet and savory snacks, learn about the art of making incense, visit a seaweed seller, and see a side of the city frozen in time.

About this activity

Free cancellation
Cancel up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund
COVID-19 precautions
Special health and safety measures apply. Learn more
Mobile ticketing
Use your phone or print your voucher
Duration 3 hours
Starting time 12:45 PM
Instant confirmation
Live tour guide
English, Japanese

Experience

Highlights
  • Travel back in time to old-world Tokyo
  • Explore back alleys and discover hidden shops that have been selling handcrafted goods for centuries
  • Snack on tasty traditional treats, from candies to crackers
  • Shop for the perfect handmade souvenirs to take back home
Full description
Your 3-hour Tokyo tour begins in the Ningyocho neighborhood, a district known for its timeless traditions and, as you’ll discover right away, tasty treats. The fragrance of cinnamon will lead you to a shop that specializes in Japanese sweets. Established in 1897, in the Meiji Era, this shop stays true to its origins. Visit an incense store that dates back to 1705, and learn about kōdō, the art of appreciating incense. You’ll also stop at a little gift shop that carries traditional Japanese items, from calligraphy tools to decorative wares. If you’re hungry by this point, that’s good, as you’ll be stopping at a snack shop from the Showa Era that features treats popular in the early 20th century, including candies, caramels, ramune soda, fish jerky, and bean paste snacks, to name a few. Next, you'll visit a shop that specialises in a traditional snack: senbei (rice crackers), a favourite in many Japanese households, which is happily gluten and dairy free. Try sweet kawara senbei (made from flour actually, not rice), as well as salty rice crackers, a favorite in many Japanese households. Cross the street to a shamisen shop, and learn a bit about this traditional Japanese stringed instrument. Then head to a local tenugui shop, where they sell woven hand towels depicting Japanese scenes. Your Tokyo tour guide will next show one of the 8 temples in Ningyocho. Visit a shrine where virtue, longevity, learning, and wealth are worshiped. You can offer a prayer here, and wash a coin to ensure a prosperous life. Visit the nearby neighborhood of Nihonbashi, a hub for merchants during the Edo period. Today, it’s predominantly a financial district that’s home to trading firms and the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Although Nihonbashi is very much a modern neighborhood, you’ll find many traditional Japanese shops hidden in its alleyways and even within its department stores. Stop at a seaweed shop, as well as an old-fashioned stationery shop that was established in 1946. Admire the display of calligraphy brushes, inks, traditional paints, handmade greeting cards, and little dolls. Check out a toothpick shop that has been in business since 1704 and that gives a little something extra special to buyers: each toothpick is wrapped in a piece of paper with a poem. You’ll also stop at a katsuobushi shop that can be traced back more than 200 years. Katsuobushi, or fish shavings, is used to make fish broth, the very essence of Japanese cooking. Lastly, you’ll visit a shop that makes golden leaves at 0.0001 of a millimeter, traditionally used for decorating ceramics, furnishings, and even food. The tour ends at the Nihonbashi information center, where you’ll get to taste a few more traditional Japanese sweets before saying sayōnara.
Includes
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Food samplings
  • Additional food and drinks
  • Souvenirs and items of a personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities for the guide
COVID-19 precautions
Safety measures in place
  • All areas that customers touch are frequently cleaned
  • Customers must keep distance in vehicles
  • The number of visitors is limited to reduce crowds
Traveler requirements
  • Customers are required to bring and wear masks

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Participants

Date

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Meeting point

Mechanical clock tower near McDonald's in Ningyocho (note there are 2 clocks — meet by the one on the same side as McDonald's). In Japanese: Ningyocho Karakuri Yagura Edo Rakugo. You can access the meeting point from any of the following metro lines: Ningyocho station, Hibiya Line, Exit A1 (currently under reconstruction- Exit A2 is on the opposite side of the street- 4 min walk); Ningyocho Station, Asakusa Line, Exit A3 (7-minute walk); or Suitengumae Station, Hanzomon Line, Exit 7 (4-minute walk)

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Important information

Know before you go

  • Some food allergies can be accommodated, but please check with the supplier beforehand
  • While this tour is not physically exerting, it is a walking tour, and you will be on your feet and walking for all of the 3 hours
  • This tour includes visits to independent, family-run businesses, which may sometimes unexpectedly close or alter their hours for the day. In such a case, you will visit other nearby shops or attractions that are aligned with the theme and essence of the tour
  • This is a child-friendly tour. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on the tour. Children under the age of 6 are permitted to join this tour free of charge. Please advise at the time of booking if you’ll be bringing a child under the age of 6
  • While this tour is not physically demanding, it is a walking tour, and you will be on your feet and walking for all of the three hours
  • Maximum group size is 12 people
Customer reviews

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 132 reviews

Review summary

  • Guide
    4.8 / 5
  • Value for money
    4.5 / 5
  • Service
    4.8 / 5
  • Organization
    4.8 / 5
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Both the tour and Ayaka were wonderful!

We had a lovely time on this tour. Ayaka was perfect as our guide and as promised, we saw many small shops that were still hand making their wares. Many of these shops were 100 plus years old. There were lots of snacks along the way and plenty of opportunity to buy small gifts I wouldn’t usually have known about for people back home. I wholeheartedly recommend this tour.

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October 11, 2019

Excellent !

Amazing tour with an excellent guide (Ayaka). I was so lucky that I was the only customer for this tour that day so it was like a private tour. Ayaka showed me many places and stores based on traditional Japanese skills and know-how. I learnt a lot of things and I would never have learned half of it by myself. It was really rich and far from the itinerary I would have chosen as a visitor. I warmly recommend it. Besides it gave me the occasion to buy an object that will make me happy and smile every time I will look at it when I’m back home. I’m sure you will guess which one it is if you do the tour.

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August 24, 2019

We loved this tour! It was so interesting seeing shops that have been passed down through generations, that were still operating and successful, and in the original location! Ayaka was so fun, and we were so impressed that she taught herself English, and didn't even have much of an accent when she spoke it! Would definitely recommend this tour!

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August 23, 2019

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Product ID: 55793