We just returned from a 3 week trip to Japan and must really compliment Laura and her team at this Japan travel agency for putting together exactly what we asked for. It was our first time going to Japan - one of my biggest concerns was about the level of guided tours versus what we could do on our own. Beyond having car service for the airport at the very beginning and end of the trip, Laura had us sparingly use full day guides for our first 2 days in Tokyo, our first day in Kyoto and when we needed a translator to visit an orchid nursery that was a bit off the beaten path near Morimoto - but the rest of the time we were on our own using public transit (Japan Rail bullet trains and local trains, buses, subways, and only limited use of taxis) - and we really had no problems. Things were well marked in English most of the time and people in Japan are so polite and friendly that we often had people coming up offering to help us even when we did not need it or asked - but when we were a little lost at times, we quickly got pointed in the right direction. We moved around quite a lot and everywhere we went we felt welcomed, safe and comfortable.
We started in Tokyo in the Ginza district for a few days, then went up to Yudanaka near Nagano to see the snow monkeys in the natural hot springs in the mountains - and it was snowing in March there - but beautiful - this was our first ryokan stay and one of my favorite places - we also went to Morimoto, Takayama, Hiroshima - with a day trip to Miyajima, Kyoto for several days, Hakone near Mt Fuji (this was my only disappointment - as we were not able to see Mt Fuji itself there - but had a great time in the region anyway - and did get a glimpse of Mt Fuji earlier in the trip when not expected - while traveling outside Takayama on the train on a day trip to a nursery) - and then ended the trip back in Tokyo for a few days - we saw so many Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and lovely gardens - I really got a feel for the subtle differences among the different regions and the historical contexts.
The hotels were also top notch all around - every place we stayed seemed perfectly placed for the itineraries to make it easy for us to get around on public transit - and the accommodations were comfortable and we always had breakfast included, and those were some of the best meals we had - again, I do not think we had a bad meal for the entire trip - despite be adventurous at times and trying many things that we were not initially sure of what they were. Besides all the fresh seafood and pickled veggies, I came to love soba and buckwheat tea, various forms of tofu including the soft "yuba," soups, and the warm egg custards. Japanese meals in the ryokans are quite a production - and as entertaining as tasty - but often the simple meals - noodles and soups, are perfect and just what you want at times. My partner loved the octopus "balls" - takoyaki, and the Japanese pancakes.
Every city had so many unique things to offer, but my favorite stop was in Yudanaka where we stayed in a very cozy ryokan and hiked up 30 minutes away in the snow to see the snow monkeys in the hot springs in the mountains. I had read about this and seen a TV special on BBC about it and it was even better than I expected.
Nothing really - as I said, my only disappointment was not getting to get a good view of Mt Fuji from Hakone, but the weather is unpredictable - and you cannot make that happen perfectly all the time - so we just enjoyed whatever was there - even the rainiest coldest day in Hakone we had one of the best days - and saw the Open Air Museum, which I was not initially thrilled about taking out time to see, but was one of the other highlights of the entire trip. So maybe I would have stayed one more day in Hakone.
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
Zicasso matches you with the world’s best travel specialists.
Get Your Trip Planned
"The guides in Tokyo and Kyoto were excellent. They were both knowledgeable, very friendly, extremely hard working and very...
"Every step of the way Lauren took care of my expectations & satisfied all of them to make this gift to my mother an...
"Our travel agent worked with us extensively from the time we showed interest through our actual departure. We found her and...
Copyright © 2021 Zicasso, Inc. All Rights Reserved. CST 2124858-50.
Headquarters: 650 Castro St., Suite 120-447,
Mountain View, CA 94041, USA