Kyoto is the premiere traditional Japanese food destination. It’s known to offer visitors some of the most scenic views, cultural and historical experiences, and of course, a glimpse of what Japanese life and cuisine were like many years ago.
Many people will associate Kyoto with foods such as kaiseki, matcha, yuba, and wagashi – and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, Kyoto’s food scene offers much, much more than what you see on the surface.
From restaurants quietly boasting about being in the game for more than a century, to families who have passed on the same traditional recipe for many generations – there is so much cultural nuance to experience when you look past the gorgeous facade of traditional Japanese architecture and historic buildings.
One such way to witness the true nature of Kyoto’s food scene is to actually be a part of it – and you can do exactly this through a cooking class!
Cooking classes are fast becoming one of the most fun and precious ways to create unique memories whilst still experiencing a new culture.
Kyoto offers many fun and exciting cooking classes; here, we’ve rounded up the top 7 for you to join in 2023! Let’s have a look.
1. Traditional Japanese Wagashi Making Class in Kyoto
Traditional Japanese wagashi is considered an art form by the Japanese, and if you’ve ever indulged in these sweets, you will know exactly why.
Wagashi is not just any simple treat; the craftsmanship required to create these treats takes a lot of practice, but the results are worth it. Some wagashi treats have been deemed too pretty to even eat!
In this traditional Japanese wagashi-making class, under the tutelage of a wagashi expert, you will learn to make your own kawaii ‘Kiku Nerikiri’ wagashi!
Kiku Nerikiri wagashi is a pretty decorative style of wagashi that’s made with colored bean paste and molded into various pretty shapes. For the sake of simplicity, you will be molding your wagashi into kiku, a chrysanthemum shape.
After you’ve made your wagashi, you will relax with a cup of Japanese tea and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the rest of the class.
- Guided by a trained wagashi expert, who’s studied the art of tea in the “Urasenke” tradition for over 20 years
- Learn the traditional art form of making wagashi sweets
- Drink a cup of tea from an award-winning Kyoto tea shop afterward!
2. Bento Making Class in Kyoto
Bento boxes are delicious boxes that have been partitioned into separate compartments, each containing a different type of food. It naturally adheres to the Japanese philosophy of eating a well-rounded diet to maintain your health.
Bento boxes are widely eaten in Japanese culture and are a popular go-to for lunch in the office, at school, or even for dinner. Many families will prepare them early in the day to take with them; otherwise, you can even find them readily available at convenience stores and department stores across Japan.
In this bento-making class, you will learn how to craft your very own bento box. Using only the freshest seasonal ingredients, you will be learning a variety of simple yet effective traditional Japanese cooking methods to make your bento box.
From delicately putting a sesame salad together, to frying tempura to perfection, you’ll be learning first-hand some of the most basic ways Japanese people prepare their bento boxes.
- Drink complimentary green tea to start the lesson
- Learn how to make 6 different Japanese dishes which comprise your bento box
- Learn how to perfectly fry tempura!
3. Kyoto Decorative Sushi Cooking Class
Kazarimaki sushi, or decorative sushi rolls, pop up every now and then to stun and surprise people around the world. This artform of delicately rolling beautifully layered sushi is a craft not anyone can manage.
However, if you’re keen to learn the art of decorative sushi, this is the perfect class for you!
In this decorative sushi cooking class, you will learn not one, but two styles of decorative sushi! Starting from the basics, you will learn how to make perfectly seasoned sushi rice, followed by tips and tricks on how to layer the ingredients for the most photogenic sushi at the end.
The colored rice used is all made using naturally-derived ingredients. For example, the blue rice you will be using is actually colored using algae extracts. Thus, vegetarians and vegans are also welcome to join this class!
The host will snap photos of you as you learn your intricate new skill, and you will also receive a recipe book at the end.
- Learn how to perfectly season sushi rice for all your future sushi endeavors
- Make decorative sushi using naturally-derived plant-based ingredients
- Receive a recipe book after you finish the class
4. Izakaya Food Cooking Class in Kyoto
Dining at an izakaya is easily one of the most entertaining and exciting ways to experience Japanese food. Izakaya bars are always full of the delicious scent of charcoal, teeming with heady smokiness, and the aroma of a variety of delicious dishes fills the air even from the outside.
Part of the izakaya culture is to knock back a few beers as you sit around and dine on the various share-style dishes in the bar. This is what makes it such a popular dining option for foreigners!
If you’re keen to re-create this experience back home, look no further than this Izakaya food cooking class.
Offering a seasonal menu, you can learn how to make your very own izakaya food right in the middle of Kyoto. It is a great opportunity to learn how to cook several traditional tasty Japanese dishes, ones that you’d normally find at izakaya bars around Japan.
The izakaya class is split into two sessions: first, you’ll cook 2-3 dishes, and then sit down and enjoy them whilst they’re hot. You’ll then head back into the kitchen and cook the rest, and then sit down and dine for round 2!
Some of the dishes you may be preparing include bamboo shoot fried fish balls, salad with sesame dressing (a popular one!), and Japanese-style hamburger.
- Be welcomed with a complimentary cup of green tea before the class
- Learn about basic ingredients used in Japanese cuisine, including dashi stock, soy sauce, and sake
- Split up your cooking and dining into two sessions, thus prolonging the class
5. Tea Ceremony in a Traditional Kyoto Machiya
This special addition to the list is not so much a cooking class, but rather, it’s an experience to enjoy one of the most traditional aspects of Japanese culture: the tea ceremony.
Kyoto is considered the ancient capital of Japan, and you can witness and feel its history steeped in its atmosphere. It stands to reason that you would book a tea ceremony experience here because it will almost feel as though you’ve stepped back into ancient Japan!
The tea ceremony host is Randy Channell Soei, the highest-ranking non-Japanese person to be actively teaching and promoting the traditional ways of Japanese tea ceremonies.
In his exquisite townhouse, you can experience the true nature of the Japanese tea ceremony, complete with traditional table settings, sweets, home-grown matcha, and a knowledgeable host.
- Experience the Japanese tea ceremony in the “ryurei” style
- Discover the entirety of a tea ceremony, from beginning to end
- Learn a bit about the history of matcha and wagashi
6. Authentic Japanese Sushi Cooking Class in Kyoto
A trip through the wondrous country of Japan would not be complete without a meal of sushi, the global representative food of the Japanese. Sushi is a beloved food that is a fan-favorite of many visitors, and this sushi cooking class is the perfect way for you to learn the ins and outs of rolling the perfect sushi!
This class is quite a well-rounded class, where you will get to learn a bit about the background of sushi and the cultural and symbolic influences that have shaped sushi into what it is today. You will be learning how to roll two types of sushi, as well as prepare three side dishes to go with the sushi.
The teacher will also make sure to explain everything you need to know about sushi etiquette.
It’s a fairly hands-on cooking class where you’ll learn from an expert teacher and you’ll be guaranteed some enviable skills to bring home!
- Learn the basics of Japanese home cooking, including how to wash rice for perfect sushi rice
- Learn how to prepare two types of sushi and three types of side dishes
- Gain knowledge of Japanese food customs such as table manners and cooking techniques
7. Ramen Noodle Making Experience in Kyoto
Does the idea of midnight snacking on authentic ramen entice you? Well, no longer do you need to be in Japan to have access to 24/7 restaurants selling freshly prepared ramen. YOU can prepare your own ramen bowl at midnight, anywhere in the world, after learning the skills through this authentic ramen noodle-making class!
Gion is a bustling area in Kyoto, home to many Japanese Geisha, stunning architecture, and traditional restaurants. It’s also home to this wonderful cooking class hosted by Musoshin, a popular restaurant that boasts over 6000 visitors a month!
At the start of the class, the expert instructor will teach you the different steps of making ramen noodles from scratch. You will literally be kneading the dough and using a machine to slide your noodles!
Next, you will be using a range of fresh ingredients to cook your broth. The specialty of Musoshin is its thick, flavorsome, and enriching soup, which will pair perfectly with your freshly homemade noodles. The last step will be to add the ramen toppings.
At the end of the class, dine on your very own bowl of ramen to end the fun and exciting class.
- Learn how to make ramen noodles from scratch
- Learn how to make and taste three different ramen noodle thickness
- Learn how to cook the famous Musoshin ramen broth from scratch
We hope you enjoyed our selection of the best cooking classes in Kyoto!
Cooking classes are a fun and fantastic way to learn more about a culture and its traditional customs. In a country like Japan, where culture is so deeply ingrained in all aspects of its society, learning its cooking methods is a fine way to show appreciation for its beautiful customs.
Not only that, but cooking, in general, is a love language. The delicate nature of preparing ingredients, the intricacy of getting the balance and harmony right, and the fun and the exhilarating moment when you put the finishing touches to your entire meal are just unmatched.
We highly recommend you pick up one or more authentic cooking classes in Kyoto. You won’t regret the lessons you’ll learn, the friends you’ll make, and the lifelong memories you’ll gain here.
For more food experiences in Kyoto, feel free to check out our list of the best food tours in Kyoto!