I thought this Japan travel company did an excellent job in planning our trip. Even though they are based in Kyoto Japan, planning the trip was pretty straight forward. We would speak on Skype and discuss minor details over email.
They were very accommodating to our needs. The reason we visited Japan was for a work conference. They were able to seamlessly use our existing conference schedule and intertwine it with a visit of Kyoto, the Alps and Tokyo. Additionally, we were brave in taking our eight month old on the two week trip and they helped make that go as smoothly as possible.
In Kyoto, we stayed at a Japanese style apartment. It made traveling with our baby much easier and used that as our base camp for several days. The only downside to the trip was the townhouse (machiya in Japanese) we stayed at was brand new. We were the first tourists staying at it. When we arrived, they were still moving in furniture and the hot water and gas hadn't even been turned on yet. However, by 5pm on the first day, everything in the apartment was functioning. It was the only minor hiccup on the trip.
The rest of the accommodations were as expected. Our travel agency even provided their own travel manual that described certain city districts, had dining recommendation and contained several maps to help us get around independently. It was close to 50-60 pages and extremely thorough.
Overal, I would give them close to 4.5 stars for the minor glitch, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and give them 5 since I can't give them 4.5
We really enjoyed our time in the Japanese alps and hiking around Kamikochi. Takayama was a great little city and had amazing food (Hida beef was great!) and friendly, helpful people.
Definitely ride the Shinkansen or bullet trains. We had 3-4 trips on them and each time I was amazed at how quiet and fast they were.
Our schedule was pretty packed and I felt like I needed a day or two when we got home to relax and recover. I think we has close to 25 different buses or trains to catch in a two week period, so it was little bit overwhelming. So maybe 1-2 relaxing days mixed into the trip would have made it feel more like a vacation rather than
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