We LOVE traveling with TravelLocal. With this, our 4th trip with them, we had a long list of requests for an intense, 8 day trip to Japan. We wanted to experience: traditional lodging, all Japanese food, public transport, local guides in the large cities, a farm visit, religious sites, traditional craft museums and shops, and sumo wrestling. And, a variety of different environments, from large cities to small towns. TravelLocal accomplished all, with an absolutely incredible "self guided" tour for 3 teenagers and 2 single mothers. We slept in ryokans, walked the streets of Kyoto surrounded by lovely young women enjoying a day in kimono with a friend, visited temples, saw Mt. Fuji on two crystal clear days, learned about a tea ceremony, ate fish for dinner that had been swimming in the ryokan pond just hours before, soaked in a private hot pool at a 400 year old ryokan (country inn) with a mountain stream rushing past our window. We walked 5 miles with a delightful guide in Tokyo our first day and enjoyed every minute, traveled on subways and buses and trains, and all without a single hitch in the travel plans. To travel so comfortably in a country where we neither knew the language, nor could easily read anything, was a true testament to TravelLocal's standards and service. TravelLocal gave us such a minutely organized guide book that we knew even the distance in meters to our lodgings. The train schedules were clear and extremely easy to follow, with both English and Japanese Kanji names for train stations. We cannot say enough about the joy that we have had on each TravelLocal tour.
I mentioned most of my points above. TravelLocal's Japan partner was so meticulous with their guide book for this self guided tour that we usually felt that we had a human guide at our elbow. Wow. The lodgings were delightful, and of a wonderful variety, so that we were able to experience a range of ryokans, foods, and modes of transport.
No suggestions here. Please just continue to provide the incredible service and detail that you are already accomplished at providing.
We loved both our guides- for Tokyo and Kyoto. So different, in age, approach, speed of travel (fast in Tokyo, more relaxed in Kyoto). I loved the sense of being shisked around two incredible cities, being shown special small shops with modern or traditional Japanese crafts, seeing paper making, the sumo museum, eating so many different Japanese foods and flavors, in so many different venues. Lovely, extremely knowledgeable women. We felt lucky to have met them.
MT. Fuji in the off season- WOW! We loved being the only Western visitors in the Oshino-mura village, trying all the different foods, enjoying the incredible views. Hakone- I still hear the sound of the stream at our window, see the ouzel bird enjoying the cool waters as I soaked outdoors. It was delightful to stay at the farmhouse in Asuka, to talk with our enthusiastic hostess and see her own rice fields- and discuss some of the worries of farming, from wild hogs to weather. Travel with public transport! We met some very nice people who spoke English as we waited for trains, and really enjoyed seeing the countryside from all the sizes and speeds of vehicles we used. Kyoto's kimono-wearing young women in the old quarter were marvelous- such beauty of color and form, and so much fun to see the Japanese young women enjoying dressing up for the day.
Hard to tell. The view of the crowded buildings from the 15th floor in Osaka? The shabu-shabu dinners? The local fish at a small Hakone restaurant crowded in with everyone else, us the only Westerners? Every day was intense, special, eye-opeming, and full of the gracious welcome of the Japanese people, wherever we went. We feel blessed to have chosen Japan, and hope to return before long.