Day trip from Kyoto or Osaka
Come for this tour after exploring Nara Park

The Big Buddha and the bowing deer have made Nara famous. But most tourists never get anywhere near Nara’s hidden gems. Like the tea shop that insists on going to a spring deep in the mountains of Wakayama to collect water for tea. Or the homely omakase izakaya bar run by a husband-and-wife team with a flair for using seasonal vegetables and fruits in the most sinful way you’ve never thought possible.

Join XJ, the tea-drinking, ramen-loving, bicycle-riding, Inari Mountain-climbing Singaporean who lives in Kyoto on a 5-hour gourmet experience that your tastebuds will never thank you enough for.

You’ll learn to…
  • Savor the umami in premium sencha and top-grade gyokuro
  • Select teas that can jolt you awake, or put you asleep
  • Enjoy yourself at an izakaya without stressing out about how to behave
  • Appreciate the myriad textures found in casual Kyoto cuisine
This tour
  • Is held in English
  • An intimate experience: No more than 5 travelers per group
  • Starts at the Kintetsu Nara Station at 3pm
  • Ends at the Kintetsu Shin Ōmiya Station at 8pm (be back at Kyoto Station by 9pm)
  • Is a non-smoking experience (unlike most izakayas, the food takes center stage at the izakaya so smoking is prohibited)
  • Runs from Tuesday to Fridays
What this tour is not about
  • Formal tea ceremony (but I know a great place for that: Chasanraku in Arashiyama)
  • Fixated ways of thinking about tea and food (both the teahouse and izakaya subscribe to the view that everybody should enjoy their food in their own way)
  • Strict codes of conduct (feel free to stretch out and relax at both places)
What’s included
  • A guide (XJ)
  • Tea tasting set with 3-4 different teas
  • 10-course home-cooked style izakaya meal with 1 beer and 1 sake/shochu (Chef Takeshita serves only the freshest seasonal items he can find so there’s no written menu and the selection changes day-by-day)
What’s not included
  • Transport to-and-from Nara

This experience is an exclusive arrangement extended to Craft Tabby. It is not on the itinerary of any other tour & activity company. You’ll get to experience Nara just as the locals do. And you’ll get to meet two husband-and-wife teams who are proudly passionate about what they do. Available for a limited time only. And only in Nara.

FAQ

Can I just show up or do I need a reservation?
You need a reservation so that we can ensure a small group size.

Can children come along?
5 hours of eating and drinking will be too much for the little ones. Teenagers will enjoy the experience. They will not be allowed to order alcohol at the izakaya though.

I cannot have pork/beef/alcohol. Can I come?
Yes, I can make arrangements if you email me in advance.

Can you design an itinerary for Nara?
Yes, I can provide suggestions and plans for what to do and see in Nara if you book this tour.

More questions and answers below.

Lee Xian Jie
Your Guide: Lee Xian Jie

XJ studied Political Science at Waseda University, and has lived in Japan for 5 years and counting. Loves cats and shibas but also moss, and all sorts of teas. You can find him cycling the Kyoto-Nara route some weekends.

Book now

Booking closes 1 week before each tour.

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Refund policy: Full refund if you cancel 3 days before the tour. No refunds if you cancel less than 3 days before the tour. No refunds for no shows. No exceptions! You will be offered a reschedule or refund if the tour is cancelled because of typhoon warnings, major earthquakes, or any other natural disasters.

All your questions, answered

Nara was the capital of Japan before the capital got moved to Kyoto. So there are temples, gardens, and shrines that are incredibly beautiful. I can come up with an itinerary (with food stops) if you write to me (hello@crafttabby.com).

Yes, just let me know where it is and I can send you the best route to Nara and back.

The tea tasting set will include 5 kinds of tea, including premium sencha and gyokuro.

After the first two teas, we will decide together whether to taste teas that have more umami, sweetness, or fragrance.

The tea house has a wide selection of rare Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese teas you will not see elsewhere. There will be light snacks (dried fruits, nuts, or confectionery) to go with the tea.

Izakayas serve foods alongside beer or sake in small portions. “Omakase” literally means “I’ll leave it up to you” and the chef designs a menu just for you. Of course this menu can be modified based on your likes and preferences, so that’s what I’ll be there for (to interpret and make suggestions).

Seasonal produce from all around Japan. The selection differs from day to day based on what is available at the market. There will also be dishes that are specialities of the chef (dishes featuring fruit chutney for example). I’ll make sure you get those.

Yes. I suggest you come hungry! I can ask for smaller portions if you’re filling full.

Please let me know by email in advance if you have any food allergies or preferences and I will make the necessary arrangements.

Yes, while smoking is not allowed within the premises of both the tea house and izakaya, there are parking lots next to both of them. I can show you where they are.