Tours of eating local specialties on a double-decker bus while enjoying the changing scenery of rural villages are recently proving so popular that sometimes it is difficult to get reservations.
The bus comes with a kitchen on the first floor and tables and seats for 25 people on the second floor. The roof will be opened, or covered with a transparent fabric on rainy days, to make it easy for people to see the outside view.
A tour which includes visits to a Japanese sake brewery and a strawberry farm in the city of Niigata drives 60 kilometers in three and a half hours. While participants enjoy visiting a brewery and picking strawberries, Motoshige Shimbo, a 32-year-old chef who has trained in Italy, makes dishes using local ingredients and serves them on the bus.
The menu features six dishes, including a terrine of Sado Island black pork, a risotto made with organic rice and cage-free eggs and Yukiguni tea brewed using native tea leaves grown in the city of Murakami, Niigata.
The tour costs 15,120 yen per person. “It was great visiting the producers (of local specialties) and tasting the dishes while looking
at the countryside landscape,” said Hideko Akiyama, 56, of Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture, who participated in the tour.
Bus tour company Willer Travel Inc. started the tours in April last year with the aim of letting foreign tourists explore Japan’s local cultures and cuisine. The company provided tours in Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture in the past, and currently offers tours in Niigata and Kumamoto prefectures.
Four types of tours in Niigata, planned by Niigata Visitors & Convention Bureau, are available on Wednesdays and weekends through the end of June.