Japan has a unique cuisine, and I have teamed up with ByFood to tell you about their range of food-themed tours and other activities in Japan. These now include online sessions (cookery classes and more), and I recently took part in “Virtual Teatime”, a fascinating exploration of green tea. You can read more about my experience below.
What Is ByFood?
ByFood is a one-stop platform for travellers to Japan who love food. It offers a whole range of tours, cooking classes and other food-based activities, both online and in Japan. But it goes much further than that. You can also use ByFood to make restaurant reservations and to create your own personalised food experiences.
The philosophy behind ByFood is based on the idea that visitors to Japan will want to experience its distinctive cuisine and culture at first hand. However it recognises that language can be a barrier for many people, and it acts as an intermediary, providing all of its services in the English language.
A Wider Social Mission
ByFood’s mission is “sharing Japanese food culture with the world”. Have a look at their blog for lots of articles and videos about Japanese food and food trends, from street food to ramen shops to the best breakfasts in Tokyo. While you’re reading about food you’ll also be learning a bit about local culture (as an example, a recent post looks at Japanese New Year celebrations).
And there is a wider social mission. ByFood has created a “Food for Happiness” scheme that helps children in developing countries. Whenever a customer books an experience or makes a paid restaurant reservation, ByFood will donate school meals to children in need around the world.
I participated in one of ByFood’s online experiences – Virtual Teatime. This was an exploration of everything to do with green tea – how to drink it, its history and its place in Japanese culture. The session was presented by Lauren, a tea-expert from Arigato Japan Food Tours, who offer a whole range of food related experiences, both virtual and on the ground.
I was amazed at how much there was to know about tea, green or otherwise. Lauren told us she was studying to become a tea sommelier – I hadn’t even known that these existed! We learnt about the three different types of green tea (including the very popular matcha), their health benefits and their history, and I discovered that you can use green tea in cooking.
Making A Perfect Cup Of Tea
There was a practical element to the session: Lauren guided us through the steps of making a perfect cup of tea as we brewed up in our own homes. I have attended a lot of online experiences over the last year, and I think that this was one of the best and the most enjoyable. Lauren knew her subject, and her presentation was well organised, clear and informative. And the small group format meant that she was able to answer questions and to supervise our tea-making.
Travel also featured in the presentation. Lauren had partnered with Explore Shizuoka to tell us about Japan’s main tea growing region. Shizuoka is very close to Tokyo, the home of Mount Fuji, and the pictures we saw looked beautiful. This is one to add to the travel wishlist for anyone who loves Japan, countryside or tea!
(If you want to learn even more about green tea have a look at my review of Tea Stories Japan, a lovely book about everything to do with growing, making and drinking tea in Japan.)
Other Online Experiences From ByFood
ByFood’s online experiences include cooking classes and sessions about food. You could learn to make Vegan Ramen and Gyoza, or discover 5 Famous Japanese Foods. Of course, food also includes drink – cocktails, Japanese whisky and more.
The experiences on offer dig deep into Japanese culture. You can learn the secrets of Mindful Eating, or take an online tour of Mount Fuji, enjoying the scenery and the history as well as the local food.
Food Experiences In Japan
All of these online experiences are sure to whet your appetite for visiting Japan and trying the food for yourself. Whether you’re in Tokyo or elsewhere you’ll find that ByFood has lots of choices of food tours, tasting experiences and more. Although this is often seen as a meat and fish based cuisine, vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
And, when you’re ready to eat out, check out the restaurant recommendations, and let ByFood do the booking for you.