【News】Fine dining and sightseeing available on “restaurant bus” tours (April 16, 2017)


Tourists enjoy dining on the second floor of an open top double decker bus in the city of Niigata

Tourists enjoy dining on the second floor of an open top double decker bus in the city of Niigata

A course of dishes featuring local specialties of Niigata Prefecture, such as the famous Koshihikari brand rice, is served on a restaurant bus.

A course of dishes featuring local specialties of Niigata Prefecture, such as the famous Koshihikari brand rice, is served on a restaurant bus.

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.

he 3.8-meter-high, 12-meter-long restaurant bus makes a stop in Niigata Prefecture.

he 3.8-meter-high, 12-meter-long restaurant bus makes a stop in Niigata Prefecture.

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

Chef Motoshige Shimbo cooks dishes on the first floor of a double decker bus while it is making a stop during a tour.

Chef Motoshige Shimbo cooks dishes on the first floor of a double decker bus while it is making a stop during a tour.

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.

Restaurant bus tour participants enjoy strawberry picking at a farm in Niigata Prefecture.

Restaurant bus tour participants enjoy strawberry picking at a farm in Niigata Prefecture.

Four types of tours in Niigata, planned by Niigata Visitors & Convention Bureau, are available on Wednesdays and weekends through the end of June.

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