Tokyo is a gourmet paradise of the highest order. It’s hard to imagine anywhere else on earth having as many talented chefs! They ply their trade in a huge range of establishments, from the high-end restaurants in the sushi heartlands of Ginza, to small shops where you can get a bowl of Michelin-starred noodles for under $10 (see our post on the 5 most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo for the deets).
Have you ever fancied learning to make the delicious and diverse Japanese cuisine with your own two hands? If crafting the perfect bowl of ramen, learning to make gorgeous bento lunches, or cooking like a Buddhist monk tickles your fancy, then you’re in the right place.
You can do all that and more during these fantastic cooking classes in Tokyo, under the guidance of some of the city’s culinary experts. Not only will you get a cultural experience (often being invited into the home of your local Japanese cooking teacher), but you’ll also gain some practical skills to summon the culinary spirit of Japan in your own home kitchen for years to come!
15 Tokyo Cooking Classes to Level Up Your Japanese Cooking Skills
- Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class
- Vegan Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class
- Handmade Udon Cooking Class
- Wagashi and Mochi Cooking Class
- Wagyu Beef and Gyoza Class
- Washoku Cooking Class
- Nigiri Sushi Making Class in Tokyo
- Homemade Soba Class
- Kaiseki Cuisine Cooking Class
- Tempura Cooking Class
- Healthy Bento Cooking Class
- Cartoon Bento Making Class
- Shojin Ryori Cooking Class
- Vegetarian Sushi and Tempura Class
- Katsu Curry Cooking Class
1. Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class
The ramen craze has well and truly taken over the world. You can find instant packets of these flavorful noodle soups lining the shelves of supermarkets from New York to Nigeria. A true ramen lover stays away from these, however, opting instead for the real deal: the original, big, hearty bowls of fresh ramen you’ll find all over Japan.
In this Japanese cooking class, you’ll get the chance to make your own ramen and gyoza in Asakusa, one of the most historic districts of Tokyo. Over the course of 2 hours you’ll learn to prepare every component of this delicious noodle soup and crispy pan-fried gyoza (Japanese potstickers) from scratch (with the recipe to take home). Vegetarian recipes are available for both, making this one of the more accessible cooking classes in Tokyo.
No more cheap instant ramen for you — with this recipe in your arsenal you’ll be able to whip up an authentic bowl of Japan’s favorite comfort food whenever you want!
2. Vegan Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class
For a long time, Japan wasn’t an easy place to navigate as a vegan diner. Many of the classic Japanese vegetable dishes use the ubiquitous dashi fish stock! All that’s beginning to change, however, with a new wave of inclusive dining culture taking hold in the big cities.
To get an insight into this side of Japanese cuisine, while enjoying some vegan-friendly cooking, join the Vegan Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class. Over the course of two and a half hours, you’ll learn to make ramen which uses miso (a fermented paste made from soybeans) instead of fish stock, and gyoza (Japanese potstickers) that's packed with delicious vegetables.
The instructor knows a lot about vegan Japanese cuisine, so she’s the perfect person to give you the lowdown on what to eat in Tokyo during your time here!
3. Handmade Udon Cooking Class
Udon is soba’s thicker, chewier cousin. These delicious wheat noodles are a popular lunchtime favorite, and a key fixture of authentic Japanese home cooking. During the Handmade Udon Cooking Class in Tokyo, you’ll learn to make a bowl of these wheat noodles yourself.
It’s not all about the noodles though; you’ll also get a chance to make tempura, dashi soup broth, and a tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) that's made from the teacher’s mother’s recipe!
The setting is a charming house with traditional features, so you’ll really get the feeling of genuine home cooking. And as a nice little touch to finish to this Tokyo cooking class, the teacher will write your name on a Japanese fan in kanji for you to make home (along with copies of the recipes, of course).
4. Wagashi and Mochi Cooking Class
Bean paste isn’t such a well-known ingredient in desserts outside of Japan, but once you’ve tasted its gentle, sweet flavor and melt-in-the-mouth texture, you’ll find yourself craving it at tea time. It’s typically used in the creation of wagashi: ornate, all-natural, vegan-friendly sweets which accompany traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
During the Traditional Japanese Sweets, Wagashi and Mochi Class you’ll learn how to make three kinds of wagashi for yourself — dango, nerikiri wagashi, and daifuku mochi.
The process is simple but it requires some special techniques, so a Japanese cooking teacher is indispensable. They’ll show you how to create the pastes and doughs, fill your sweets with red or white bean paste, then shape them into edible art! In true traditional fashion, the 2.5 hour class ends with a cup of traditionally brewed matcha to enjoy alongside your creations.
5. Wagyu Beef and Gyoza Class
(Update 9/25/2020: This class is no longer available.)
Japan’s gyoza dumplings are one of the most popular foods in the country, perfect alongside anything from a bowl of noodles to a glass of beer. To learn to make your own crispy fried dumplings — among other things — head along to this Wagyu Beef and Gyoza Bento Class.
Across the span of three hours, you’ll learn to make every component from the minced meat to the dumpling wrapper. You’ll also make three side dishes to go along with them, as well as a dish of premium Japanese wagyu beef!
If you fancy learning more about everyday life in Japan, once you’re done eating you can opt for a tour of the area — a lovely part of residential Setagaya.
6. Washoku Cooking Class
Washoku, Japan’s traditional cuisine, was designated as a piece of Japan's "Intangible Cultural Heritage" by UNESCO in 2013. The term is broad, but at heart it represents the deeply traditional, natural, and seasonally sensitive cuisine of Japan.
To discover why it’s so special for yourself, join a cooking class in Tokyo like the UNESCO Recognized Washoku Cooking Class in Yotsuya. Over 2.5 hours you’ll learn to cook four different authentic Japanese dishes, on top of the dashi soup stock which underpins the cuisine.
Washoku is a seasonal cuisine so the exact dishes you make will depend on the time of year, but whatever they are you’re guaranteed an authentic taste of history, and some new cooking skills with which to recreate your own slice of Japanese culture at home.
7. Nigiri Sushi Making Class in Tokyo
Nigiri is the name for the archetypal sushi shape — a little bed of hand-molded rice with toppings. It comes from the Edomae style of sushi which originated in Tokyo, so where better to learn how to make some than in the city of its birth?
The Nigiri Sushi Making Class in Tokyo is a 2 hour experience, during which you’ll learn to properly season the rice with vinegar before molding it into the nigiri shape. Then you can finish your pieces off with some delicious fish, meat, vegetable, or tofu toppings before enjoying your creations along with some drinks!
8. Homemade Soba Class
Soba, buckwheat noodles, are among the healthiest of their kind in the world, and a popular dish everywhere from top restaurants to local eateries. Several of the top artisan soba shops hold Michelin stars, and with good reason!
At this Handmade Soba Noodles Cooking Class, you’ll get to appreciate the craftsmanship which goes into making quality, authentic buckwheat noodles. In the comfort of a private home, you’ll learn to carry out the whole (surprisingly therapeutic) process of mixing, rolling, cutting, and cooking your own noodles from scratch.
After this Tokyo cooking class, you’ll also leave armed with all of the recipes and nutrition facts you need to make authentic handmade soba a part of your repertoire long after you've returned home from your Japan trip.
9. Kaiseki Cuisine Cooking Class
Kaiseki is one of the most refined cuisines of Japan. It originated in Kyoto to accompany tea ceremonies. It was a way of celebrating the current season, by serving a series of gorgeous small dishes built upon in-season, local ingredients. Eventually the style was adopted by restaurants, who made it even more complex and intricate. For a masterclass primer in this seasonal, philosophical cuisine, the Tokyo Kaiseki Cuisine Cooking Class is the one for you.
Admittedly, you’re not going to become the next great kaiseki master in 3 hours — that takes decades to accomplish! What you will do at this Tokyo cooking class, however, is have a blast trying your hand at around 8 historic dishes like wagyu sukiyaki or stuffed lotus root.
The menu changes according to the seasons, and also according to your own needs. Be sure to mention any dietary requirements when you book the cooking class.
10. Tempura Cooking Class
An import from Europe via 16th-century Portuguese traders, tempura has since become a quintessential food of Japan. When it was incorporated into Japanese cuisine, deep-frying became surprisingly fresh-tasting due to the lighter batter and healthier oil used — well worth adding to your cooking repertoire! A perfect way to do so is by joining a fun and social cooking class, the Tempura Cooking Class in Kappabashi. Here, you’ll learn to make a wide range of fresh vegetable and seafood tempura.
Easy to learn but difficult to master, the process of creating the batter and coating and frying the ingredients requires a good sense of timing and some good chopstick skills. Your English-speaking teacher will help you nail it for some incredibly light and crispy treats, which you’ll then enjoy in a big meal along with drinks and soups.
11. Healthy Bento Cooking Class
Bento boxes are among the most attractive and playful types of Japanese food presentation. These nicely compartmentalized lunch meals are basically an art form among the home cooks of Japan. During the Healthy Japanese Bento Lunch Box Making Class, you’ll learn to make a bento as fantastically healthy as it is beautiful, with a proper balance of proteins, carbs, and other nutrients.
Your own personal bento box will contain rice, a main dish of your choice, and sides like tamagoyaki rolled omelet and onigiri rice cakes. The instructor of this Tokyo cooking class runs it from her own home, and is very knowledgeable about traditional Japanese cooking. With her as your guide, you’ll be able to eat like a local in style, and gain the confidence to make gorgeous bento lunch box meals which blow your colleagues’ convenience store sandwiches out of the water!
12. Cartoon Bento Making Class
Kawaii culture is a total craze in Japan — home to Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and an endless host of other cute characters. One cute edible artform you might not know about is kyaraben ("character bento"), the art of turning your delicious boxed meal into a kawaii character!
During the Kyaraben Cartoon Character Bento Making Class, you’ll use a range of different tools and techniques to transform dishes of rice, egg, vegetables, and meat into cute little cartoons. Don’t get too attached though! After snapping some photos of your masterpiece, you’ll get to tuck into it and enjoy the delicious, fresh ingredients inside.
13. Shojin Ryori Cooking Class
Although modern Japan is a meat eater’s paradise, for a long time the consumption of animals was a taboo in the country! The older forms of Buddhism, imported from China, placed importance on vegetarianism as part of a good, ethical life, which led to some pretty strict restrictions around meat consumption. That’s why the historic temple food of Japan (shojin ryori) eschewed meat products in favor of an all-vegetable diet.
This historic cuisine resonates with modern ethical eating movements for obvious reasons, but you certainly don't have to be a vegan to enjoy it. This Shojin Ryori Buddhist Cuisine Cooking Class in Tokyo is a fun and enlightening experience for both Japanese culture buffs and vegan diners alike. Here, you’ll learn to craft meat substitutes like mushrooms and tofu into delicious traditional dishes like deep-fried vegetable skewers and vegan sushi.
14. Vegetarian Sushi and Tempura Class
Vegetarians don’t always have it so easy in Japan. With a culinary tradition which is very seafood-heavy, it might seem like pescatarians have all the fun. But don’t fret! The Vegetarian Japanese Food Class with Sushi and Tempura is here for you.
During this 2 hour class you will learn how to make delicious vegetarian Japanese food, without sacrificing authenticity. Although sushi is mainly associated with fish, there is actually a huge range of toppings which can be added to it. Read our article about the different types of sushi for more info about the various styles of Japanese sushi. In this class, you’ll make your own veggie sushi using vegetables, egg, and tofu.
Vegetable tempura is another classic favorite of Japan, so you’ll be taught to fry up delicious, light, crispy bites of sustainable seasonal produce. This Tokyo cooking class is shining proof that there’s plenty of rich culinary culture in Tokyo for everyone.
15. Katsu Curry Cooking Class
This Tokyo cooking class takes place in historic Asakusa, the home of Japanese curry rice. Well, really the spiritual home is India, as this dish came to Japan during the Meiji era, brought by British traders, but you get the idea. Whatever the origin, curry is now one of Japan’s favorite dishes, often served in gigantic portions which could present a challenge for even the biggest eater.
At the Katsu Curry Rice Cooking Class in Tokyo you’ll learn to cook the distinctly Japanese take on curry, featuring a delicious, juicy pork cutlet drowned in spicy sauce. You’ll make the sauce from scratch, fry up your crunchy tonkatsu cutlet, cook your rice, and have a masterclass in making the dashi stock that's so crucial in Japanese cuisine.
It's easy to get a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine at any number of restaurants around Tokyo. But to truly understand the cuisine, you really have to try your hand at making some yourself. With these Tokyo cooking classes, you can bypass the language barrier, time constraints, and every other obstacle to get right to the heart of Japanese food culture with a friendly local expert. The best part is that, when you go back home you won't have to search for a restaurant which serves authentic Japanese food (trust us, it'll be tough to find the real deal). Instead, you'll be able to recreate the genuine Japanese culinary experience in the comfort of your own home!