Our travel agent was excellent! He met us the first morning at our hotel in Tokyo and set the tone with expertise, answered any remaining questions we had and periodically inquired about our status throughout the remaining portion of our trip. He allowed flexibility during certain parts and arranged minor changes as they were needed, seamlessly. All connections and transfers were executed flawlessly.
All guides were very pleasant but level of fluency with English varied. Level of knowledge was also variable. Our guide in Tokyo was the best, our guide for the Nakasendo trail, the weakest but all were at the very least, "adequate" and all were very nice people.
Accommodations met or exceeded our expectations. The ryokan in Hakone was awesome!
Our itinerary was very active requiring much walking and numerous train rides. But as a result we (the four of us, ages 62 to 75) gained a better insight into the country and people of Japan.
#1 The snow monkeys outside Nagano
#2 The ryokan in Hakone
#3 Rickshaw ride in Kanazawa
#4 The shinkansen experience
#6 The free roaming deer in Nara
#7 The great food
#8 The fantastic toilets/bidets
Would not use JAL again unless it couldn't be avoided. The service was mediocre and on the return flight (over 10 hours from Osaka to L.A.) they actually ran out of breakfast meals. Therefore one of our two meals was sacrificed. NOT ACCEPTABLE, especially on an expensive business class fare.
Hotel in Osaka was a bit of a disappointment. Upon our request for a good local restaurant serving Kobe beef, they handed us a brochure of a place they highly recommended nearby. No doubt we were aware of how expensive the meal would be. But when we checked our restaurant bill it was about 25% higher than quoted in our brochure menu. No small sum. After looking into it, we discovered the brochure was from 2015 and all prices had increased substantially since then. When we returned to the hotel and informed the assistant manager he was apologetic but made no concessions otherwise. I explained to him that he should stop handing out outdated material to future guests as they would most likely be upset with the price disparity. Hopefully this was not a case of collusion between the hotel and the restaurant (bait and switch).
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