Posts Tagged ‘Temples and Shrines’

Simply Perfect

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Hi, We have just returned from our 18 day holiday in Japan.

I just wanted to let you know it was the perfect itinerary for us. Our wish list was all ticked off and we feel like our schedule was well planned and timed out for the days we had.

I was travelling with my two teenage girls and 10 yr old son, and we all agree it was truly memorable and great fun. Specifically, we loved the Dynamic Tokyo Tour. We saw so much more in one day than we could have in a much longer holiday or on our own. It was nice to be above ground on the bus for a change, as you see so much incidental scenery from the bus rather than popping out from the subway into a new realm. The Tokyo Dynamic Tour included a wonderful lunch, the yummiest teppanyaki we’d ever had, and wandering the gardens at both the lunch and tea ceremony sights felt like a privilege. All the staff we encountered were generous, caring and humorous. The Nakamise walkway up to Sensoji Temple was such a surprise and we wouldnt have gone if it wasnt part of the tour.

We enjoyed the Mt Fuji trip and agree with Clement that it was a good choice to make that our first day in Japan, I think we would otherwise have wasted a day acclimatising and wandering aimlessly. Being on tour for our first day, forced us out of bed early but more importantly gave us time to get used to the currency, weather, language and ask pertinent questions to a tour guide face to face.

We are grateful for your recommendation to stay at Biyu no Yado Ryokan in Yudanaka. The homestyle feel and traditional meals and accommodation were something we had never experienced. Very memorable for us all to sleep on futons and tatami, and the food surprised us so much. Some of it challenged us to try but everything was delicious (even the dried up salted looking fish that stared up at us from the plate), we agreed it was the best thing we ate all week. From here we enjoyed the snow monkey visit and found two staff; Daniel and Kaori, exceptional hosts.

Most importantly for me, I found all your notes helpful. Validating passes, locating reference numbers for bookings, phone numbers, meeting times etc- it was all so clearly laid out that I was able to enjoy the holiday knowing nothing would go wrong if I followed your instructions. So a big thank you from me, I enjoyed my kids company more for never having to “get stuck”.

Thanks Clement, should we be lucky enough to return to Japan, we will definitely use you guys again.

Warm Regards,

Skiing at Hakuba

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Hi Peta

Just emailing to let you know that Daniel and I had a fantastic time in Japan, the skiing at Hakuba was awesome, the accommodation was great, the owners of the lodge made us feel very welcome and it was lovely to share stories/information in the common lounge/dining room with everyone else, lots of fun. All of the hotels you booked were great to stay in and the Japanese breakfasts were delicious too.

The rest of the holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto was brilliant too, with many wonderful temples, shrines and castles to see and of course great food including delicious pastries which was an unexpected surprise.

Your instructions on the Itinerary were absolutely fantastic and very helpful, which made our trip much easier when we had to work out how to get to places we were staying at.

Thanks once again for your great service and we are very happy to recommend you and the Platinum travel service to everyone we know.

Cheers, Armando

In short, it was brilliant!!

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Hi Olivia,
I just wanted to feed back about our trip.
In short it was brilliant!!  Everything you had organised was perfect, so thank you.
Here are a few comments for any future people you might book holidays for – I am sorry if you know these points but thought we would let you know
1.  The snow is unbelievable!!!!    All resorts were covered with heaps and
there was fresh powder snow almost daily.
2.  Happo One is a fantastic resort to ski on with a sensational view and great wide runs.  However, I would suggest for absolute beginners it may not be the best…….the blacks are hard, the blues/reds are a bit harder than in victoria and so are the greens (although some of these might have been labelled dotted green).  For absolute beginners, we found the Tsugaike resort had a lot nicer green runs (a bit like the summit at Hotham or the bourke st buller run – but heaps and heaps of them).  Otherwise I found Happo One to be magnificent and would strongly recommend it for intermediate or experienced skiers.  Also, at Happo there were also heaps of runs which kept the day interesting.
3. I don’t know if you have used it much but the Yamano resort was fantastic.  The rooms were nice enough, the view of the ski jumps every morning at breakfast was spectacular and to top it off the Japanese bath was sensational at the end of every day’s skiing.  One of the complaints on trip advisor was the small bathrooms which is true, but I suspect none of these people used the gigantic japanese bath/sauna. Most of all, the service was top notch.  The hosts spoke English mostly pretty well and were always helpful.  We could call them anytime and they would come and pick us up in the resort (or drop us off).  Also, Yamano was really close to the chair lift.
4.  Regarding where to eat, I would tell people to relax…..everywhere we ate it was magnificent.  We even had 2 hot pot meals in Yamano which were great.  What I would recommend to people is to go to Echoland……its a small town nearby Happo (you can still get views of ski jump) and there are a number of restaurants here.  We went to Zen and Izakaya Hie (make sure to order okonomyaki -japanese pancake here!!).  Both were sensational – although we probably would give the vote to Zen.
5.  The snow monkey tour should be strongly recommended.  I think you had said we could use the JR East pass to get there, but when we spoke to the information centre at Nagano about this, we were told the way to get there was by bus so we didn’t book the train.  However, at our resort we saw a tour to the monkeys, lunch at a sake factory (can’t remember the town name) and finally the Zenkoji Temple in Nagano city.  By far the highlight of the day was the monkeys…..they are so cute and worth the trip!
6. My final comment is with the JR East pass.  It was useful to have all the tickets booked on day one so we knew where to go, what time and with a reserved seat, but I am not sure costwise whether it is cheaper just to buy the tickets on arrival.  As I said, we didn’t particularly mind and was pleased to have the reserved seats but given we only travelled narita-tokyo-nagano and return on the JR pass, others on a tighter budget might find it more useful to buy the tickets over there.
As I said, we had a brilliant week and hopefully will return.


Only disappointment was a limited time

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Dear Mr Minamino

We are writing to thank you for your very valuable assiatance and advice in the preparations for our recent holiday in Japan.  All of the accommodations selected were most pleasant, with our favourites being the Aso Plaza Hotel for the staff’s friendly service, and the Nikko Kanaya Hotel for its superb location and style.

All of the accomodation locations and travel arrangements were very well coordinated, particularly assisted by the use of the JR Rail Passes, which exceeded our expectations and delivered us many hours of enjoyment on all classes of JR trains travelling through the country areas, and also convenient travel in the cities.

We can thoroughly recommend any visitor to Japan, who has the time, to take the JR tourist train journey from Kumamoto via Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu to Kagoshima.  This was a hightlight of our holiday, made all the more memorable by the JR train crew members conduct of this service.

We had considerable luck with only 2 days of rain during our stay, with 1 being in Nikko which was only light rain shrouding the temples and mountains in mist and only added to the solemnity and beauty of that place.

There were also 2 earthquakes (which we were aware of), the first a minor treamour in Sendai as we were moving from the railway station to the hotel (which was compensated for the next morning by a long shower of large, light snow flakes!)  and the second whilst travelling on the Shinkansen into Tokyo (and only noticeable because the train stopped and an announcement was made)

Although we did not get to a live Sumo match, we did manage to see most of the final seriesof matches on TV, becoming firm fans of the sport and spectacle. 

Our only disapointment in this holiday was that we had sucn a limited time, could not stay longer and had to leave before we had seen enough.  Should the opportunity come again for us to return to Japan and see more of your beautiful country, we weould be most pleased and appreciate if you were also available to assist us.

Many thanks and kind regards
Ian, Linda and Louse

Takayama – a great opportunity to experience a ryokan

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
We felt blessed when we were greeted by the lovely guide at Osaka airport after a long queue for fingerprinting, face recognition etc. Of course we were weary, and it was a great luxury to be swept to the hotel in a very flash Toyota limo.

Hyatt very good. Room on first Japanese second floor, so a good view of the roof below, but it was very quiet and comfortable. By far the smallest of our three rooms, but great bed, bath and breakfast.

The bike tour was a huge success. Although we had a couple of rain showers we managed to visit all the temples/shrines/palace as well as stopping at a tiny ‘hole in the wall’ for noodles, which is what we had requested.

If you have any clients remotely interested in architecture or art I would certainly include the Miho Museum. It is absolutely breathtaking. Almost worth the trip to Japan, and made so much easier with the car. Again, the blossoms not out, but magnificent.

Cherry blossoms started to really bloom while in Kyoto, and being the weekend the Japanese tourists were out in force, quite a few in national dress.

Takayama – a great opportunity to experience a ryokan. That place also had a great onsen on the ground floor, and contrary to our expectations we were provided with three not one excellent dinners. The first in a private room of their main dining area, the second at Hotel Alice? where we were served slivers of the heavy duty cholestrol steak. Third night another private room in their sushi bar part of the hotel. I would certainly recommend that place. The town also features some very pleasant walks, and of course the famous floats.


Thank you for your efforts

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Hello Olivia,
We thoroughly enjoyed our 3 weeks in Japan.
Just to recap a little, we spent the first 4 nights in Tokyo (Shiba Park Hotel); the next 2 in Yudanaka (Ryokan Biyu no Yado); 4 nights in Kyoto (Ryokan Hatoya); 4 nights in Osaka staying with Japanese friends; 3 nights in Hiroshima 1 in Kurashiki and, our final 2 nights in Tokyo at Shiba Park Hotel again.
In Tokyo, we had two pre-arranged tours you booked for us.  A half-day Tokyo tour and a full day Mt Fuji / Hakone tour.  Both of these tours were excellent.  As we were travelling with our 11yo daughter, having English-speaking tour guides made everything so much easier for her … and for us too.
Shiba Park Hotel continues to be a friendly, comfortable and conveniently located as well.
I’ve already mentioned Yudanaka and Ryokan Biyu no Yado.  What a wonderful little town and a brilliant inn.  The Snow Monkey park was my wife’s choice, so I didn’t know what to expect.  However, the two nights we spent there could easily have become ten! 
We had the best time there with Yuki, Masao and Craig.  They couldn’t do enough for us.
Kyoto and Ryokan Hatoya was a different story.  This was my third visit to Japan, and third to Kyoto so, I’d seen most of the touristy things already.  My wife and daughter enjoyed it though.
Ryokan Hatoya was excellently located, so close to the station.  It was very comfortable.  Some of the staff spoke quite good English, but it was hit-and-miss as to whether they’d be on duty when you needed them.  Their onsen was good too.
One area that was curious to us was breakfasts.  Not only at Hatoya, but it was highlighted there.  There seems to be a notion that Westerners eat huge breakfasts.  Here, and at Yudanaka, our breakfasts were far, far bigger than we could eat.  It resulted in a lot of wasted food and a feeling that we’d ‘let down’ our hosts.
My last visit to Japan was 18 years ago and, back then, the breakfasts were not nearly as big as they seem to have become.  Maybe there could be some education of accommodation providers to offer a ‘tick the box for what you’d like’ for the set breakfasts.
Some of the places we stayed at, offered buffet breakfasts (Shiba Park Hotel and APA in Kurashiki).  We found that a good option too.
While in Kyoto, we did a day trip to Arashiyama.  This was a very pleasant, easily accessed area.  The unfortunate part for us was that we chose a long weekend to be there.  Naturally, that meant we had several thousand of our closest friends there too.  Oh well, you can’t do much about that!
If you were lucky enough to be there on an average weekday, it would be quite scenic and a lovely day out.
Apart from the very well conducted Kyoto/Nara all day tour, we also found Nishi-Honganji Temple; walked the Gion District and found some great places to eat.
Can’t say too much about Osaka.  We stayed in the home of friends in the southern suburb of Yao.  They showed us around their town, mainly the Tennoji area and, we went to Horyuji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest temples and a truly amazing place!  On top of that, we saw the Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Harbour Village and Osaka Castle.
Our daughter loved all these.  Tempozan Village was new to all of us and the Ferris wheel afforded great views of the city.
In Hiroshima, we did all the usual things; the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Park, Shukkeien Garden (beautiful … and so close to Flex too!) and, Miyajima (always good to visit).
Next stop was an over-nighter in Kurashiki.  In hindsight, I’d not recommend an overnight stay in this town unless there was no other choice.
The Canal Area of town is beautiful and well worth a day trip, even a long day trip to take in as much as possible.  However, we didn’t find too much else to interest us in the 24 hours we had there.
Forget the Museum of Natural History … it seemed like it hadn’t been updated since it opened in the ‘80’s.
From Kurashiki, we went back to Tokyo and the Shiba Park Hotel for our final two nights.  It was nice to be back in an area we knew well.  Jane and Mia went to Disneyland on the following day, while I checked out some motorcycle shops.
On our last day, with an evening flight home, we just took things nice and easy, got to the airport early, shopped, ate and, thought of what awaited us at home.
We had a fantastic trip, made so much easier by the efforts of yourself and JTB.  Thank you for your efforts … especially after we re-arranged everything following the March disaster.
Jeff & Jane and Mia

Thank you for the wonderful assistance.

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Hello Yoko:
Thank you for the wonderful assistance provided for my recent trip.
I will send to you a copy of my email to the Park Hotel in Tokyo – truly, the best hotel staff I’ve met. an ideal location – close to the Ginza, Shimbashi JR station, Shimbashi and Shiodome subway stations,  Shimbashi monorail (to the Big Sight) and access to Shinkansen lines.  All staff were extremely kind and helpful – it is very pleasing that from the front desk through to the house staff, everyone was cheerful and bright – and quirky in a contented way.
The ryokan at Kyoto (RYOKAN AZUMAYA KYOTO)  was marvelous experience – if at all possible, could you please thank them again for the three night stay?  I did very well sleeping on a futon!
The JR Pass was very advantageous.
I was bowled over by the fullness of spirit and decency of Japanese people everywhere – many very happy memories – highlights include a performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin by the Bavarian State Opera, with Kent Nagano conducting, at the NHK Hall; horse races at Keiba and Nakayama (the international race meeting last Sunday was spectacular); ramen cooks smiling graciously at my left handed misuse of chopsticks; the culture of Kyoto, buzz of Tokyo and sereneness of Nara; smiling policemen and policewomen; the Prada exhibition at the Museum of Western Art and ukiyo-e and the overall reverence of the aesthetic in everyday life; the amazing food (I love gyozo!); the respect at the core of the Japanese life; wonderful late summer weather; the sheer joy of Japanese individuals; and being chided by a monk for smoking in the grounds of a Shrine at Nikko.
There is some hope of possible business with an Osaka based company, Kalita, which manufactures coffee making equipment, and if further progress is made, I would like to contact you regarding future travel to Japan.
Like a good restaurant, I have had a most pleasing small taste of a sample, and there remain many further items on the menu.
Once again, arigato gozaimasu,



Thursday, September 1st, 2011
Hi Lisa 
I hope you’re well. 
We’ve now collated all the feedback from the trip and everyone had an amazing time!  I’ve listed their comments below.  If you could please pass this on to everyone involved, that would be fantastic:
Swissotel Nankai
  • Excellent!!! Great location and easy to walk around the shops, resturants etc! Very helpful staff and excellent rooms.
  • Perfect! Very centrally located, close to the train and shop – I will definitiely recommend it to my clients
  • Excellent, beds were so comfortable, service was great, nice views, spacious rooms and the breakfast buffet was great with a large variety
  • The hotel was absolutely perfect in every way
  • great location, amazing breakfast & view
  • amazing location and very nice views in the rooms. Comfortable beds, pillow menus, good breakfasts
  • The Swissotel was beautiful. Clean, comfortable and friendly service. Such a fantastic location that I will most certainly be recommending it!
  • The Swissotel Nankai was FANTASTIC – brilliant location, great breakfast & lovely staff. Would recommend it to anyone visiting Osaka
  • Awesome hotel!!
  • very nice hotel and the service was great
  • The hotel was lovely – very clean and perfect location
  • the hotel was great and in a really good location to tourist areas.
  • Lovely hotel, great location ( Loved the coffee machine in the room too ! )
Day tours & sightseeing
  • All of the touring was great
  • The tours and sights were just perfect
  • The day tours and sightseeing was exceptional, loved the guide and the meal on the last night was the most unique and different meal ive ever had in my life, I loved it
  • we saw a lot  of amazing things in a small amount of time which was great
  • Our tour guide (mochiko) was absolutely brilliant. She was so knowledgable, friendly & humerous. I loved each of the tours
  • the tour guide machiko from JTB was nothing short of amazing!! A good mix of cultural activities, food and free time
  • The guide for JTB was out of this world. Not too overwhelming with info, just enough
  • The day tours were fanstastic! I loved the tea ceremony and the dinner with the geishas, both were experiences i’ll never forget
  • the day in Kyoto is a good seller with The tea ceremony and temples
  • Everything was fantastic. I especially loved Kyotothe JTB Guide was excellent.  The Kyoto day trip was excellent and the dinner that night was just amazing!

Thank you so much for all your assistance in organising everything Lisa!

Kind Regards

Home after a fantastic trip to Japan

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Hi Clem
We are back home after a fantastic trip to Japan and a bus tour of Taiwan. Everything worked exactly as planned. First let us compliment you on the level of accommodation chosen for us. The Nagoya’s “Marriott Associa Hotel”, once we found it, was very up market for our normal level, the Matsumoto “Tokyu Inn” was satisfactory and the Ryoken in Yudanaka was an extremely pleasant experience even though we only stayed at the “Biyu-No-Yado” for only one night, as they had no other guests they closed the Ryoken for maintenance and moved us to other Ryoken where the accommodation and food was just as excellent, unfortunately we never found out the name of this Ryoken as nobody could speak English and only Japanese identification was evident. The Takayama Ryoken “Hotakasu Yamano Iori” was not as spectacular as the other two but more than satisfactory. From there on the Quality of accommodation in Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka was of a great standard.

Your recommendations of sightseeing and transport option were excellent. We did improvise some train travel and incorporated more stops particular a Cherry Blossom stop in Hikone and Himejei. Travel by train was on the whole easy except getting lost in the huge station like Nagoya and the Osaka subway system. On our arrival at the Nagoya Station, it was late evening, we got hopelessly lost and only through numerous enquiries did we found the Marriott hotel. The following day our tour guide, Sumiko Fukami, gave us an orientation tour of the station even though it was not on our itinerary and way past her tour time. This basically set the tone of the whole trip, every time we were lost or looked confused somebody was always ready to help even with the language barrier. A good example I like to recall: we decided to take the train from Yudanaka to Takayama via Nagano, Naoetsu, and Toyama. The Journey through the mountains was fantastic and once we arrived in Naoetsu the conductor from the previous train made sure we were at the right platform and than shepherded us to a warm waiting room and only than did he leave us.

Japan is a country of Temples, Shrines, Castles, Fantastic Landscapes, Cherry blossoms, Beautiful Customs and History. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience this extraordinary country and welcoming people.

The shortage of tourists made our trip even more memorable as we were often the only foreigners in restaurants and at sightseeing spots, however the opposite is true for Taiwan which is being over run by main land Chinese whose behaviour of pushing and very loud behaviour is opposite to the more refined Japanese people behaviour.

One note of something you were probably not aware of, the Free Novotel Shuttle bus in Taipei does not operate between midnight and 6:05, we just had to wait for over an hour for the shuttle.

The Taiwan bus tour was well conducted and delivered everything its promised but after our own sightseeing in Japan it came a bit of a shock by the tour leader always pushing and given time limits on sightseeing some times not even enough time to take a decent photo. Such are group tours.

I am starting to ramble on so to close off again we are very glad we did visit Japan and maybe one day in the future we are able to see more of the fascinating country and helpful friendly people.
Thank You Clem and JTB.
Many Regards
Erich & Rebecca

Thank you for a wonderful trip

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Hi Lily

I have neglected to thank you for a wonderful trip.
Hotels fantastic.
Travel connections very easy.
Japanese people very friendly and assisting.
Snow fantastic. 1.5m deep at the hotel, 3.5m deep on top of the mountain.
Snow Monkey and temple tour excellent.
Hopefully we can go again soon.

Kind Regards


Shibuya, Meiji shrine, Ginza and more !

Friday, January 7th, 2011
Hi Hideko

Our trip was awesome!
Everything went well and all the planning payed off.

We loved your country and saw many interesting and varied places.
My husbands friend took us to Shibuya and the famous intersection, the Meiji shrine and we saw a traditional wedding and saw all the illumination down the Ginza district.

The Hyatt Regency was a stunning hotel and the free shuttle bus to and from
Shinjuku station was a bonus. We used it many times.

One of the best experiences was the Nikko Hakone tour with our guide named Kathleen.
She was originally from New York but has spent the last 36 years in Tokyo working and raising a family.
Her excellent knowledge and friendly nature was an added bonus.
We saw a lot of snow at the lake in Hakone and I believe the temperature there was -2C.
The weather was cold but we enjoyed it instead of the hot summers we have here.
We spent an amazing time with our daughter and had a wonderful xmas and new year.
The only down side was the Hiroshima museum not being opened on new years eve (to be expected) though.
Your countries people are so courteous, helpful and friendly.

We would not hesitate to recommend Japan as a tourist destination to other Australians and recommend JTB for the service you provided.

My husband and I agree in saying that it is the best holiday we have ever had.
Thanks you so much Hideko for your patience and time.

Happy New Year!
Donna & Mark

We had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Hi Lily,

We are back safe and sound and happy. We had a wonderful time. I would go back to Japan tomorrow if I could I took about 700 photographs or so!

Tokyo is an enormous city, however for the massive population it didn’t feel crowded where we were and the transport system ran like clockwork. There was a lot of English in Tokyo, signage and on the trains, and we managed quite well I thought. Loved the hotels and locations we stayed in, and the Nozomi was fabulous.

The autumn leaves were AMAZING!

We were lucky to see a Shinto wedding, on a Friday, at the Meiji Shrine. Also lucky to see lots of little girls and boys in very special Kimonos for the name day festival, after the15th, when it is less crowded. The parents are very happy for you to photograph their kids in their special Kimonos and the traditional boy’s outfits.

The Ghibli Museum was also a highlight, for me and Calem. So pleased didn’t miss out. Calem wanted to live in a house like that. Really beautiful stained glass windows and interesting objects all around.

After seeing Enkoji Temple, a group of young women – students, with bicycles actually walked us the short distance to the bus stop, as it was getting dark around 4.30 pm! Can you imagine any where in Australia where that might happen?

Overall we had a ball in Kyoto, though there was less English and the trains and buses seemed more complicated, we adapted fine. We saw 3 Maiko, only quick enough to photograph one. Butterflies of the night indeed.

However there was no photo opportunity with the Maiko after the show on the tour we did, the guide didn’t know about it? Overall the Tea Ceremony and walk through Gion was another highlight for us, we both really loved it.

Qantas was great, really good service and yummy food. We didn’t sleep well, but that’s to be expected.

Next time I’d love to see more of Japan, Hiroshima, Mt Fuji (only saw it from the plane), Nara, Osaka, Takayama and Kyoto again.

Thank you for your kindness when my Mum rang up during our holiday.

Thanks so much again Lily,

Warmest regards,


What a fantastic trip we had to Japan

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Hi Lily,

Wanted to let you know what a fantastic trip we had to Japan. Everything worked well and we loved everything about the Country, the people, the food, the Cities, the Temples, gardens etc.

Our escort Eiji was very professional and helpful and our tour leaders outstanding.

We have told all our friends what a wonderful trip we enjoyed and already a couple of friends are making inquiries for next year. Their names are Mr. & Mrs. Huxtable.

Thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip.

Regards, John & Leone

What a fabulous time we have had

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Hi Clement:

As our Japan holiday is coming to a close we wanted to let you know what a fabulous time we have had. We managed to find all the hotels, do most of the sights you suggested and even tried the food you recommended. We spent today in Nara and what a great time we had. We walked everywhere in a bright sunny day and really enjoyed the city. When we were at theTodaiji Temple it seemed every school in Japan was having a field trip there – they sure were noisy but otherwise very well behaved.

Our Alpine Route went very well and we were glad we had the night’s rest at Murodo before completing the trip. We did both the walks, the first day was lovely and sunny, the next grey and rainy but both were enjoyable.

Our hotel here in Kyoto is great – we are in the newer section and it is quite lovely. Also appreciate being so close to the station, and what a fabulous station it is.

Hope you enjoy your experience of the Alpine Way.

Arthur and Marilyn

They stayed and waved us off smilingly.

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Hi Lily,
Just thought I would check in and tell you I enjoyed my recent trip to Japan and, of course, especially the Sunrise tours, which are very efficiently organised and the tour guides and general staff are very obliging and helpful. When they came to the station with us, they stayed and waved us off smilingly and were at the other end in the same way (not the same person of course), so it was very comforting to know we wren’t being left to our own devices, so to speak.

With regard to my worrying about getting the train from Tokyo Station to Shinagawa, it didn’t turn out to be a problem (1) because on the Mt Fuji trip the shinkansen stopped at Shinagawa station and of course, the Shinagawa Prince is just across the road. (2) on the trip to Kamakura the train once again stoopped at “my” station; (3) on the Nikko trip we ended up at a different station (near Tokyo Station but one down towards Shinagawa) and I was able to return to the hotel with a couple from my hotel who were already familiar with the train system, so there was no need to worry about taxis; it might be helpful for you to be able to pass on this info to other people like me who are useless with trains and worry about where they will end up. I probably could have managed with the guide’s instructions because people are quite willing to help you if they understand what you are saying.

Speaking of trains, they are unbelievable compared with ours – and no graffiti, which was marvelous. I vote for sending a delegation to Japan to find out how they do it, apart from the vast amounts of money that must be required. I was even able to take a photo of Mt Fuji from the shinkansen at 300 kph, and it came out. I was also lucky enough to still be able to see quite a number of cherry blossom tress in bloom, for which I was very grateful.

I was also impressed by the taxis and the drivers with their white gloves and spotless cars.

I would suggest you advise people to wear comfortable shoes, without laces, since you have to take them off so much for the temples etc.

The weather was great until the last couple of days when we had a bit of a battle sometimes with the rain, but it was still okay; pity it was on the walking tour in Osaka, but even so; it was a lot hotter than I expected it to be – everywhere.

Thanks again for your assistance Lily and I hope this finds you well. God bless, Kind regards,