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A minpaku is a homestay; usually in a rural area. The idea is to experience country life, with the option of helping the family to prepare meals, harvest vegetables and even join in local festivals. Even if your hosts cannot speak much English, you can communicate with smiles and gestures.

Shojin Ryori

When Buddhism was first introduced to Japan, meat was forbidden. Temples developed a form of vegetarian cuisine that closely followed the seasons. Preparing the food is part of Buddhist practice. You can try Shojin Ryori at restaurants near temples or when you do a shukubo (temple stay).

Kaiseki Ryori

A form of haute cuisine, traditionally served at ryokan and high-class restaurants. The many small dishes in tune with the seasons are as appealing to the eye as to the taste buds. Evolving from traditional court meals and the tea ceremony, kaiseki styles range from elaborate to Zen-simplicity.


First prepared by the monks at Todaiji Temple around 1200 years ago, this is Nara’s traditional breakfast, still served in many hotels and inns. The simple dish of warm rice porridge is flavored with roasted tea. It’s often served with pickles and other small dishes such as grilled salmon.


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