EAT! MEET! JAPAN 2021: Announcing 15 Award-Winning Food Experiences in Japan

By Rika Hoffman
Updated: March 17, 2023

On November 22, 2021, 15 winners assembled for EAT! MEET! JAPAN’s 2021 award ceremony, a contest that recognizes and promotes the best Japanese food experiences across the country. From 175 applications, these 15 food experiences were chosen, representing 10 prefectures of Japan. 

Each of the experiences selected offer profound insights into Japanese cuisine and intimate windows into the lives of the people who are keeping Japanese food traditions alive.

Sitting down to a meal in Kyoto during the "Sake Tasting in Kyoto With Your Own Handmade Wooden Cup" Eat! Meet! Japan experience.

Notably, this year there was a trend towards sustainability, with hosts encouraging plant-based meals, teaching zero-waste cooking, and upcycling unmarketable veggies into creative dishes. 

Vegan ramen made during the "Vegan Japanese Cooking Class: Plant-Based Ramen and Gyoza" Eat! Meet! Japan experience.

Fermented foods also star in many of these EAT! MEET! JAPAN award-winning experiences. From sake in Kyoto to katsuobushi (bonito flakes) in Mie, to koji-based dishes in Nara, and even natto in Gunma; Japan’s long-standing culinary methods of hakko (fermentation) are celebrated through tours and workshops.

Making koji during the "Fermentation Cooking and 3-Day Traditional House Stay in Nara" Eat! Meet! Japan experience.

Deep food experiences await…

An opportunity to explore the depth of Japanese food culture; come along and step into the shoes of a Jomon period hunter-gatherer for a day, or appreciate the sea’s bounty with the boathouse-dwelling people of Ine. 

Boat in Ine bay during the "Bounty of the Sea: Culinary Culture of Ine, From Seafood to Sake" Eat! Meet! Japan experience..

Travelers will leave these experiences with a newfound appreciation for the people who have an unseen but vital hand in our food production system, making possible the ingredients and Japanese dishes that we take for granted every day.


Commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the EAT! MEET! JAPAN project aims to encourage repeat visits to Japan, promoting unique food experiences that will continue to captivate foreign tourists even after multiple trips to Japan.

Cooking with soybeans during the "Sustainable Soy: Zero-Waste Cooking Class in Kamakura" Eat! Meet! Japan experience.

Having run for three consecutive years since 2019, EAT! MEET! JAPAN has recognized 44 food experiences so far. The hosts of these award-winning experiences receive mentoring from food and tourism industry professionals, video production services, and increased visibility through social media marketing.

To learn more, see the links below. 

Official Website (English):

Official Website (Japanese): 



EAT! MEET! JAPAN 2021 Winners

Vegan Japanese Cooking Class: Plant-Based Ramen and Gyoza (Gold Award)

Life in the Japanese Countryside: Local Farm-to-Table Meal (Silver Award)

Tour Maebashi, Gunma’s Fermentation City, by Scenic Local Railway (Silver Award)

Connecting with Japan’s Culture through Udon and Calligraphy (Silver Award)

Kawaii and Insta-Worthy Character Bento Class (Silver Award)

A Day in the Life of a Jomon Era Hunter-Gatherer in Niigata (Silver Award)

Traditional Ayu Fishing with Fire on the Maze River (Silver Award)

Decorative Pressed Sushi Class Along the Historical Nakasendo Trail (Silver Award)

Workshop and Sampling the Bonito Flakes of Mie Prefecture (Silver Award)

Bounty of the Sea: Culinary Culture of Ine, From Seafood to Sake (Silver Award)

Fermentation Cooking and 3-Day Traditional House Stay in Nara (Silver Award)

Sustainable Soy: Zero-Waste Cooking Class in Kamakura (Bronze Award)

Miso, Sake, Soy Sauce: Kyoto Fermentation Tour (Bronze Award)

From “Ugly” to Upcycled: Reducing Hokkaido's Food Waste Through Creative Cooking (Jury Award)

Sake Tasting in Kyoto With Your Own Handmade Wooden Cup (Jury Award)

Past EAT! MEET! JAPAN Winners

EAT! MEET! JAPAN 2019 Winners

Kamakura Snow Hut Dining Experience with Nagano Cuisine

Farm Stay in Odate with Kiritampo and Hinai Jidori Hot Pot

Tsukiji Outer Market Tour and Cooking Class

Kyoto Tea Farm Tour, Tasting, and Lunch in Scenic Wazuka

Glamping at Hokkaido Dairy Farm with BBQ Dinner

Hike Sacred Mountain with Yamabushi (Includes Shojin Ryori)

Sake in the Sea: Immersive Sake Storage Voyage in Kesennuma

Mushroom Hunting Adventure and Fireside Dining in Niigata

Omicho Market Tour and Cooking Class in Kanazawa’s Kitchen

Nishio Matcha Tea Tour in Aichi: From Farm to Teahouse

Farm-to-Table Matsusaka Beef Sukiyaki at a Farmer’s Inn

Udon Master Class and Udon Tour in Kagawa with 1 Night Stay

Award-Winning Japanese Winery Tour with Gourmet Meal & Wine Pairing

Dashi Workshop and Katsuobushi Factory Tour in Makurazaki

EAT! MEET! JAPAN 2020 Winners

Okosta Okonomiyaki Cooking Class at Hiroshima Station

Amezaiku Candy Sculpting Workshop in Tokyo

Tasting 6 Mini Bowls of Ramen at 3 Award Winning Shops

Become a Sake Brewer: Sake Brewing Experience in Nagano

Nagano Farm Stay: Frozen Food Culture in Yamaura Village

Shizuoka Tea Farm Tour: Blend Your Own Tea Under Mt. Fuji

Snorkel with Sea Bream: Fishing Boat Tour and Cooking Class

Dine in an Ama Hut with Mie's Traditional Female Freedivers

Obubu Tea Farm Club Membership

Tajima Beef Tasting Course in the Kamakura Snow Huts of Northern Hyogo

Okinawa Tour: Awamori Cave Expedition & Local Okinawan Food

Professional Japanese Culinary Program in Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy

Gifu Eco Tour: Nagara River Fishing & Ayu Cuisine 

Local Inaka Sushi (Countryside Sushi) Cooking Class in Kochi

Mayuko’s Japanese Home Cooking Class in Tokyo

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Rika Hoffman
Rika is a sourdough enthusiast, amateur film photographer, and pun-lover, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A carb-based lifeform, she is always on the lookout for tasty bakeries in Tokyo.
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