Now in my early 30s, I find myself no longer able to just pick up and head off for a break. Ten years ago, my friends and I would take off anywhere, just about anytime. One of our last considerations — being in motion was the first — was what to do when we got there or what to eat when the time came.

Having worked as a chef for the past decade, though, I find myself no longer able to just go, do — and eat — anything. I require a plan and a goal. And I need a good menu.

This spring I mapped out a route around one of the breadbaskets of western Japan. The Tamba region of Hyogo Prefecture raises beef that rivals the fabled Kobe beef and grows rice, beans and other produce famous throughout the land.