Japan with Matt Lightner

September 20 - 27, 2024 | One Exclusive Departure

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Heritage & Tradition

Experience Japan at its most timeless and delicious with Chef Matt Lightner

September 20 - 27, 2024

One exclusive departure — reserve your spot!

8 Days, 7 Nights

The best of Tokyo, Izu, Osaka, Kyoto

Price from


Per person based on double occupancy

Questions? Text or call us
+1 (855) 219-8018

You find yourself immersed in the embrace of an ancient thermal spring, its warm waters a balm that has offered respite to wanderers and seekers for generations. Just a day ago, the bustling energy of Tokyo enveloped you, a vibrant tapestry woven with towering skyscrapers and tucked-away ramen counters. Ahead lies Osaka, promising a symphony of delectable street fare that ranks among the world’s finest. And then, Kyoto awaits, a haven of ancient shrines and ageless rituals, set ablaze by the fiery hues of maple leaves. This week has a jubilant celebration of every sense, and every passing moment builds to a crescendo of gratitude and wonder.

We are traveling beside Michelin star chef Matt Lightner, whose newest enterprise, ōkta, distills the micro-seasons of the Pacific Northwest into exquisite dishes that often pay homage to the intricate details of Japanese cuisine. With anticipation, we’ll shadow his gastronomic passion and inquisitive spirit, traversing Tokyo’s and Kyoto’s concealed byways, savoring the essence of their noodle haunts and esteemed restaurants, too.

If you find joy in immersing yourself deeply in Japanese culture and cuisine, this trip is for you. If you’re fascinated by ancient rituals and artisans who’ve been perfecting their crafts for centuries, join us in Japan alongside Matt Lightner.


With Matt, and with some of Japan’s most inspiring chefs and working artists


Tokyo and Osaka—the most exciting, dynamic food cities in the world. We'll eat everything


Kyoto's layers of history, back-alley noodle joints, bustling markets, swanky cocktail bars


Grace, beauty and centuries of history at monumental shrines and traditional ryokan inns

3 Reasons to Travel with Matt Lightner

Matt is a virtuosic chef, a culinary maestro—he serves guests a nuanced sonata, guiding them through one melodic dish after another, until dessert arrives in a final crescendo of seasonality and flavor. For Matt, the finest moments occur in the spaces in between, the notes between notes, and we can't wait to travel beside him in a country that's so close to his heart.

Among the Stars

Since graduating from cooking school in Portland, Matt has packed his knife roll to Denmark, Spain and New York City, where he's worked with legends like René Redzepi and earned a few Michelin stars, too.

No Off Season

Matt cooks in, and for, the moment. Dishes like magnolia-white asparagus and geoduck or poached rhubarb adorned with foraged lilac flowers are a testament to the seasonal whims that rule his kitchen.

Fermentation Station

Just down the road from his new restaurant, ōkta, Matt created a larder and fermentation lab. Matt takes the soul of the ancient technique, which has shaped Japanese flavor profiles since 1000 BCE and applies a modern twist.

Your Experience

“My imagination is my portal to nature, travel, and exploration.”
Matt Lightner

Tokyo, Izu, Osaka, Kyoto

“For inspiration, I look to Japan—their cuisine culture can express time and place like no other country.”
Matt Lightner

Day by Day

Day 1: Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, the world’s greatest food city, and home to more Michelin stars than any other city (even Paris). There’s only one way to start an adventure through Japan, and that’s a sprawling welcome banquet specially curated by one of Tokyo’s finest.

After meeting up with Matt at the hotel, he’ll whisk us off to dinner, which—without giving too much away—will be an ode to both foraging and fermentation. In between toasts to our adventure ahead, we’ll learn all about the ways we can incorporate the wild landscape into even the most elevated of dining experiences.

Day 1: Tokyo Highlights

  • Meet and greet at hotel
  • Welcome dinner with Matt
  • Stay at The Edition

Day 2: Tokyo

Our journey begins amidst the vibrant allure of Kappabashi, affectionately named ‘Kitchen Street.’ Meandering its lanes, we’ll absorb the captivating essence of this culinary haven. As lunch time rolls around, we’ll find ourselves in Asakusa for a hands-on ramen workshop, overseen by Matt and local masters. After learning the ins and outs of this storied staple, we’ll remove our aprons, and armed with chirirenge, we’ll sample the soup of our labor!

Our path then leads us to the Shibuya Sky Viewing Platform, an elevated vantage point that offers a novel perspective on Tokyo’s breathtaking skyline. As we absorb the panoramic tableau, we’ll gracefully descend from our celestial perch, proceeding to the iconic Shibuya crossing.

As the sun dips below the horizon, we’ll proceed to an acclaimed soba noodle house where Matt and chef Aoyama will wax poetic over the possibilities of Japanese Italian fusion.

Day 2: Tokyo Highlights

  • Kappabashi Tour
  • Ramen workshop
  • Dinner at Grasara
  • Stay at The Edition

Day 3: Tokyo to Izu

After a short Shinkansen (bullet train) journey we’ll arrive in Mishima. This is the wettest part of Japan, ideal for cultivating wasabi in uniquely designed water terraces. We’ll tour behind the scenes at a local wasabi farm, and sit down to a family-style meal of sashimi and fresh seasonal vegetables.

Next, we’ll take the cable car up to Panorama Park gets us one of the finest views of Mount Fuji (assuming the weather is kind). After admiring her sacred summit, we’ll head to our lodging for the night: a traditional ryokan (inn). It’s a stunning 150-year-old architectural museum surrounded by nature, with its own natural hot springs. Here, bathing in the traditional baths, we commit ourselves to pure relaxation. Dinner is a traditional kaiseki meal, each small dish jewel-like in its presentation.

Day 3: Tokyo to Izu Highlights

  • Bullet train to Mishima
  • Wasabi farm tour & lunch
  • Hot springs & kaiseki dinner
  • Stay at Arai Ryokan

Day 4: Izu to Kyoto

This morning we take the train to the breathtaking city of Kyoto. After we take a moment to embrace its magical and elegant aura, we’ll delve into the artistry of yuba-making—with sleeves rolled-up and Matt by our side, we’ll create for ourselves a hearty and piquant homemade lunch.

Then, our journey takes a more artistic turn in the workshop of a master potter, to admire the centuries of tradition imprinted on the stunning works produced here. As the day transitions into evening, the city invites us to explore at our own pace. If you need a recommendation for a cocktail or an unforgettable meal, Matt will be happy to scribble a few of his favorite hotspots on a bar napkin.

Day 4: Izu to Kyoto Highlights

  • Yuba-making experience 
  • Ceramics workshop visit
  • Evening on our own
  • Stay at Ace Hotel Kyoto

Day 5: Kyoto

As the sun softly rises, you’ll have the chance to walk the pathways lined with vibrant torii gates at Fushimi Inari, setting a reflective tone for the day ahead. If you’d rather rest and sleep in, that’s fine too.

We’ll reconvene and head to Matsuno Shoyu, a place where tradition and craft converge—we’ll even peek inside the kura and witness the graceful rigor of soy sauce and miso-making. Lunchtime brings us to Itsutsu, where we savor the art of Japanese soba noodles. A meal rich in heritage, each bite carries the essence of time-honored culinary expertise.

Such a delightful meal calls for a delicate digestif, so off we wander to Matsui Sake Brewery, where thanks to a private audience with the sakemaster, we’ll decipher and savor the nuanced notes of this celebrated beverage. After taking a few hours to ourselves, we’ll reconvene for an informal feast. An izakaya dinner awaits—fast, casual and delicious, we’ll devour small plates in a casual local atmosphere.

Day 5: Kyoto Highlights

  • Sunrise visit to Fushimi Inari
  • Meet miso & soy producers
  • Sake tasting & izakaya dinner
  • Stay at Ace Hotel Kyoto

Day 6: Osaka & Kyoto

Today we point our compass toward Osaka, but first the Akashi fish market commands our attention. We’ll stroll the docks and the outbuildings, marveling at the treasures of the sea until the famous tuna auction commences. This daily ritual is a testament to Japan’s profound relationship with the sea. Buoyed by the bounty and the bustle of the market, we’ll stop for a lunch featuring (you guessed it) sushi, made with fish caught just this morning and served with wasabi from a farm down the road.

While Osaka is famous for its cuisine, first we’ll experience another of the city’s traditional crafts, knife-making, in the heart of the Sakai prefecture with a master artisan. As Matt and the blacksmith make a left-handed knife, we’ll stand witness to centuries of tradition—blades made the same way they were for samurais centuries ago—and marvel at the intricacy of the art form. 

Your next step is up to you. Guests can choose to spend the afternoon and evening in Osaka or return to Kyoto with the group. No matter what you get yourself into, just make sure your back in Kyoto tomorrow morning!

Day 6: Osaka & Kyoto Highlights

  • Akashi fish market
  • Knife-making demonstration
  • Optional evening in Osaka
  • Stay at Ace Hotel Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto

This morning we head straight to Daimaru, where we’ll explore the treasures of the iconic department store’s food hall. While a department store might not seem that exciting, trust us on this one—a visual feast awaits.

Our path then winds to Nishiki market—as we meander through the bustling stalls, we’ll immerse ourselves in the rhythm of everyday Kyoto. Next we step into Gion, a district famous for its picturesque bridges and its geisha culture. We’ll pause for a moment of indulgence with a matcha ice-cream as a local expert unveils the complexities of geisha performances and explains its continued relevance today.

As lunchtime rolls around, we’ll find ourselves at Tan, a vegetable-focused haven where locally grown, organic produce takes center stage. The afternoon unfolds as your personal canvas. Whether it’s an aimless saunter or a last-minute dash for gifts and keepsakes.

Our day’s grand finale awaits with a farewell dinner for the ages. Matt, with the help of a local chef, will channel the seasonal moment and prepare us a meal that just might remind you of every step of this incredible journey.

Day 7: Kyoto Highlights

  • Daimaru expereince
  • Gion district visit
  • Farewell dinner with Matt
  • Stay at Ace Hotel

Day 8: Kyoto

Alas, our journey has come to an end. As we say goodbye to Matt, and to each other, we know that the soul of Japanese cuisine and craft will travel home with us, helping us find the beauty wherever we look.

Day 8: Kyoto Highlights

  • Group transfer to Osaka's KIX airport
  • Flights home

Where We Sleep

We blend the luxurious, modern world with ryokan-style rooms and a restoring dose of Japanese shibui, that notion of striking a peaceful harmony with nature.

The Edition


Just outside your window, the heart of Tokyo thrums. Inside, every detail—from the natural stone bathroom to the minimalist accents—is a deliberate brushstroke from designer Kengo Kuma. One glance at the rooftop bar or the traditional spa, and you'll realize why this is the perfect basecamp for exploring Tokyo.

Arai Ryokan


Ancient traditions are alive and well at this luxurious 150-year-old ryokan, its traditional architecture and sleeping quarters providing an oasis of calm and a respite from the cares of the world. Legend has it that this ryokan's on-site hot spring was brought forth 1,200 years ago to allow a devoted son to wash his ailing father’s back. Today the gentle, mildly alkaline waters continue to soothe the spirit.

Ace Hotel


Housed in the former Kyoto Central Telephone Office, the Ace Hotel is a masterclass in renovation and revitalization. This newly remixed hotel—replete with in-room turntables and several soaking pools—was dreamt up by Japanese designer Kuma Kengo alongside the LA-based design firm, Commune.

Unique access to people and places. This was a trip we could not have done without Modern Adventure.
Scott F.
One of the best weeks of my life. I definitely want to do another trip with MO/AD.
Elizabeth Z.
Everything was perfectly planned and amazing. We were able to explore places that most people never see.
Jennifer G.

Book Japan with Matt Lightner

Number of Travelers


Reserve your spot today with a $1,500 per-person deposit plus room supplements (if relevant). Full payment is due 180 days prior to your trip departure date. We’ll email you a reminder. If your trip departs in less than 180 days, we’ll collect full payment either 30 days from when we receive your deposit, or 60 days prior to your trip departure date, whichever is sooner. For details read our Deposit FAQs


Per person based on double occupancy

Can't travel on these dates?
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+1 (855) 219-8018


That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Seven nights at unique four- and five-star accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; all gratuities for tour leaders and local guides.

  3. Where does the trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins in Tokyo, Japan. There are two airports servicing Tokyo – Narita International Airport (NRT) and Tokyo International Airport, Haneda (HND). Our adventure ends in Kyoto, Japan. Your flight home from Kansai International Airport (KIX) should be scheduled to depart at 2pm or later on our final day.

  4. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens do not need a visa to visit Japan for Business or Tourism purposes. Requirements are subject to change and we will reach out directly with full details and updates.

  5. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $2,600 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. These spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    This adventure has a maximum of 12 guests. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  7. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure trip leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  8. What is the cancellation policy?

    You may cancel on or before May 23, 2024 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after May 24 2024 there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after July 22, 2024 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being cancelled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details). Please note that your cancelation terms may differ if you are being transferred from a prior departure; see your correspondence from Modern Adventure for details.

  9. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

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