We were a little apprehensive about the difficulty of getting around in Japan, where we could not speak or read the language at all. But our travel specialist planned an itinerary that felt both leisurely and fun-filled, and saw to it that every transition was easy to handle and stress-free. She really listened to our lodging preferences and found us six small characterful hotels, all different, all charming. On our breeze through Osaka, she met our train and helped us find our way through the maze of Osaka Station to our hotel, then showed us around Shin-Sekai, a fun neighborhood we might have missed on our own. When we wanted to make last-minute changes to our itinerary en route, she was right there on the other end of a phone to tell us how to make it happen. Altogether a delightful way to travel!
We had our breath taken away in exquisite gardens in Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa. We were enchanted by the art installations on Naoshima and Teshima. At a nearly-empty izakaya on a rainy night in Kanazawa, we sat at the counter enjoying yellowtail dumplings and Kaga-jibuni while the chef amused us with astounding card tricks.
Keep the day-guides we hired to introduce us to the cities, but not let them take us to museums and shrines (where we can do fine by ourselves) but have them walk with us through hidden neighborhoods we would not easily find on our own, and help us converse with the the locals in the various trades. We would allot more time to Tokyo and Kyoto, which offered so much more than we had time to enjoy.
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