I am very impressed with the attention to detail that our agency provided for this trip. Travel to Japan was completely new, and my daughter and I had no clue what to expect. From the moment we arrived at the Narita airport in Japan to returning to leave, we had a wonderful time. Our travel agency chose excellent hotels for us to stay at. We also stayed at two different Ryokans, which were amazing places to experience. And we spent time at one of the temples in Koya-san, which was another amazing experience spending the nights there.
The private guides we had (6 different times) were also amazing! The guides were all very knowledgeable, and all provided us with wonderful days.
We had no problems with transportation to the different locations we visited. Our travel agency gave us excellent suggestions as to times to travel, when seat reservations would be advisable or required, and provided all the tickets or passes needed.
The only minor problem was in Kyoto where we were to walk to a department store and meet with a guide for a evening cooking tour. There were two stores with the same name in the same area, we chose the wrong store. But with help from super employees and a wonderful English speaking couple, we were able to figure out our mistake and finally meet with our guide and complete the evening tour.
I would not hesitate to use this travel agency again should I be able to travel overseas in the future. They are an amazing group to work with!
1. Food. I have no clue what I ate many times while in Japan, but it was amazing! Monjayaki in Tokyo, Okonomiyaki in Osaka, and the meals at the Ryokans - amazing! And the sweets in Japan - unbelievable when compared to United States desserts.
2. Nikko - we could have spent 2 or 3 days here. Just to much to see.
3. Ise - we would have liked to explore this region more, a super nice hotel and just a wonderful region to visit.
4. Takayama - we loved the Ryokan Sumiyoshi. I would highly recommend a night or two here. Their food is amazing and believe me, when the staff recommends you go for a walk before the evening meal, take a 2 or 3 mile hike. You get fed! And Takayama is another lovely area - calm, peaceful, relaxing.
5. Mount Koya - we spent 2 nights at Eko-in Shukubo. Another wonderful experience. And to visit the Okunoin Temple and walk the pathway to get there was a very special experience. And even in early June take a jacket because mornings are pretty cold here!
6. Nara - we had fun feeding the deer!
7. Miyajima - really needed two days here, but had a wonderful stay at a Ryokan. A superb evening meal, amazing food and a wonderful breakfast the next morning. And the guest room - just amazing!
8. Fushimi-Inaritaisha Shrine in Kyoto - a long hike, and we wish we would have spent the whole day here to be able to take our time and do more of the pathway.
9. The staff at our first hotel - in Toyoko - they always had a smile on their faces. The ladies that served breakfast buffet were so nice helping us figure out what to do our first day there!
Have any guided tour pick up at the hotel. The only problem was the one tour where we had to find the guide in a strange location.
Get a cell phone in Japan! With data. Wifi worked, but was not readily available outside of our hotel rooms.
Otherwise, I would not have made any changes to our trip. We would have loved to been able to stay longer (like the whole summer). Both of us loved Japan. We were made to feel special at every hotel we stayed at, we were always treated with kindness and respect when we were in restaurants or temples/shrines where our language was not up to par. If we looked "lost" a kind person seemed to magically appear and help us figure out what direction we needed to go.
It was an amazing adventure!
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