Fabulous trip! This travel company put together a very thoughtful 17 day itinerary for my wife and me. It was our first trip to the country and we wanted to see temples, shrines and do some hiking. Our travel planner arranged a trip that focused mainly on Kyoto and outskirts but included time in Hakone, Ugi, and Kanazawa. He blended: a) stays in three traditional inns with time in conventional hotels, b) several days with personal guides with days by ourselves, and c) days that were very planned and full with ones that were more open. We're not used to using a travel company for our vacations-- prefer to make our own plans--but the trip this company arranged for us resulted in our experiencing much more of Japan than we would have on our own, and was well worth the money. Every detail was thoughtfully arranged. For example, when our travel planner made hotel and restaurant reservations, we had great views, were seated next to the falls, overlooking the river, etc. We'd highly recommend this company to anyone going to Japan.
--Hiking the river below Takao northwest of Kyoto (with our agent who suggested we meet in person and spent most of a day with us)
-- taking a trip by boat down the Hoza--gawa River outside of Kyoto
--a whole day walking tour of Kanazawa with a lifelong native
-- discovering lots of friendly, informal restaurants for lunch and dinner
-- experiencing several traditional Japanese inns that our agent arranged for us
---Not take any 'consolidated tours' ( we had a couple of these)
-- do more reading (about Buddhism, for example) ahead of time
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