Our travel agency provided an outstanding travel experience! Planning was meticulous especially intercity travel. We received very good advice about when we would need a guide as opposed to when we could explore on our own. All of our guides were more than excellent. They were friendly, knowledgable, and very accommodating when it came to special requests. Every hotel was well chosen for location and amenities. The ryokan experience really was lovely and the stay at the buddhist temple was more luxurious than expected. We found the pre-trip travel information and maps indispensable. Travel was smoother than expected because of signs subtitled in English, the no tipping policy, and the universal helpfulness of the Japanese people. We really appreciated the luggage shipping (from hotel to hotel). Our travel agency proved to have intimate knowledge about Japan and their advice was invaluable.
The variety of experiences was the best part of the trip. We delighted in the usual tourist sites such as Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, the Kenro-kuen Gardens in Kanazawa, the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto and the Giant Buddha in Nara. Personal activities including a samurai swordsmanship class and a Japanese cooking class provided a nice contrast. Walking the mysterious cemetery at dusk in Koya-san was a good counterpoint to exploring the glittering city streets of Akihabara in Tokyo at night. We enjoyed gift shopping in the Ginza but we also were moved by the Buddhist morning prayers in a monastery at Koya-san. The food experience was memorable ranging from a kaiseki dinner at the ryokan to a ramen noodle lunch in Osaka. Having a portable wifi hot spot and access to google maps was useful when we were on our own (we were lucky to be traveling with our very own millennial). Figuring out how to get from place to place was part of the adventure! Riding on the shinkansen bullet trains were both efficient and fun.
There was really nothing that we would change!
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