Updated: Nov 1
This season for the sakura (cherry blossoms), my family embarked on a cruise around the best Japanese cruise ports. Armed with knowledge from previous visits to Japan, and insider intel on what to eat in each port, finding food and entertainment was no problem. Follow along for what to eat at each of Japan's best cruise ports.
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In this article you will find information on what to eat in each of the following cruise ports:
For information on things to do in each of these ports, click the links in the headers titles.
What to Eat in Tokyo Cruise Port
Tokyo contains so much population density that it's really difficult to pinpoint one regional specialty to try. The sky's the limit here - go for okonomiyaki, yakiniku, ramen, tempura, sushi, kaiseki, and more. With so many options, you need to study up a little bit in advance on Japanese dining.
Luckily, if you have a hankering for something, it's probably easy to find, but just keep in mind that each of the above specialties are typically the one main thing served up at each restaurant.
For instance, you can only get ramen at a ramen place, or only get okonomiyaki at an okonomiyaki place. Of course over-generalized, this is a rule of thumb, as most places will have some sides or other options.
In Tokyo, there is so much going on that it may be best just to try the street food and try a little bit of everything!
What to Eat in Shimizu Cruise Port
Shimizu is the #1 tuna fishing port in Japan and 40% of Japan's green tea comes from nearby Shizuoka. That means you need to definitely make time for both.
Your best bet as a cruiser is to simply get off the ship and walk down to the Kashi-no-ichi fish market. With over 20 restaurants and food stalls to choose from, you can most assuredly find what you are looking for.
Look for specialties including shirasu - raw whitebaits (better to skip this...) and sakura ebi – cherry shrimps (you can get them crispy fried - delicious!).
At the fish market look for Ichiba-kan (the market side with a couple restaurants) and Maguro-kan (this offers about 15 restaurants).
If you've got the time, research tea farms to visit.
What to Eat in Osaka Cruise Port
Osaka is a well located port within reach of so many side trip options including Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara - all worth visiting.
If you visit Kyoto, look into the riverside dining options called "kibune river dining". If you're there the right time of year (late spring through hot summer months) you can try the fun and interactive dining called "nagashi somen".
This is literally a bamboo waterslide for cold noodles served down a track towards diners. You must catch your noodles with your chopsticks and plop them in a sauce before eating. What a fun way to beat the heat!
If you go to Nara, the most fun here is to feed the deer. You'll find typical Japanese snack stalls, but the deer get to eat here. It's a great time and they are very friendly.
In Kobe, I don't need to say it - Kobe Beef is the ticket. If you can stay for dinner, Steak House Kokubu and La Shomon get my vote. While you are in Kobe, check out the Nada District for visiting multiple sake breweries.
Some options for old-style brewing and museums include:
Kiku-Masamune Shuzo Kinenkan
Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum
Kobe Shu-shin-kan Breweries
Finally, if staying put in Osaka then the most recommended items include:
kushikatsu (tempura fried everything on sticks)
okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake with fixings)
takoyaki (octopus balls)
It's best to take an organized food tour to get the most out of the amazing and bountiful street food experiences you can find in Osaka.
What to Eat in Kochi Cruise Port
There's really only one thing to say here: Katsuo Tataki.
This seared bonito is perfectly cooked, skin on, with a touch of flake salt. Find it at the local market Hirome Ichiba or as part of a full day tour exploring all of Kochi's markets and attractions.
For me, this was a game-changing experience. The bonito was unlike anything I had tried before, and served with lime juice and garlic chips was simply unreal. Other area restaurants offered this dish and frankly, they looked gross. Get the good stuff at Hirome market.
What to Eat in Hiroshima Cruise Port
Don't spend all your time focusing on war memorials and museums here - where you really want to be is Miyajima Island.
Aside from delicious chocolate candy covered ice cream treats and friendly deer to feed, this island is known for one major foodie delight - oysters.
Get your oysters grilled with cheese and five spice or go for bold with oyster okonomiyaki. Whatever you do, eat some oysters!
Another classic treat on the island is the maple cake. Typically stuffed with bean paste, this cake flavor can be found in Kit Kat bars, waffle treats and traditional sponge cake all over the island shops.
What to Eat in South Korean Cruise Ports
Some Japan cruise itineraries will include a stop at South Korea's Jeju Island, and for good reason. This is a tourist island so no matter where you go you will be sure to find the hot meal ticket here - Jeju black pork bbq.
Jeju black pork is like the wagyu beef of Korea. Cooked typically over a table top griddle, this delicious pork joins the rest of it's K-BBQ friends like bulgogi and kalbi to make for a great and memorable lunch ashore.
Seek out a dish called Kongbul. It's kind of like Korean BBQ, but it is made on a griddle with bean sprouts, vegetables and other chosen fixings (we tried kimchi), before being sauteed together with the traditional raw pork meats.
About 2/3 into your meal, the staff at aptly named "Kongbul" restaurant will help you in creating a fried rice dish from the remaining pieces of food left on the griddle.
What to Eat in Nagasaki Cruise Port
Another sobering place to visit in Japan, the Nagasaki cruise port is known for more than gruesome war tourism. Here are a few items to seek out for a snack or meal while you are visiting:
Champon - a rich broth soup with noodles, famous in the region
“Kakuni Manjyu” (Gua bao) - pork belly bao buns, yum!
Shinchi Chinatown - this is Japan's oldest Chinatown, so seek and find whatever your nose leads you to!
What to Eat in Yokohama Cruise Port
In the port of Yokohama, go to Araiya restaurant to try the near 200 year old sukiyaki dish born there, called gyunabe.
Visit the cup of noodle museum and try the OG chikin ramen that started it all, or venture to any of the neighborhood cafes to find the scrumptious beef curry doughnut.
Don't miss Yokohama's Chinatown where you can feast on soup dumplings and to-go Peking duck wraps!
Japan is widely known for its amazing food, so what better way to experience all the regional flavors than by taking a cruise around and discovering what to eat in Japan's best cruise ports?