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Annie and Andy Pezalla (Minnesota, USA) recently returned from their trip to Japan (May 12-19). The couple actually lived in Japan for a while, but were returning to the culture and country that they had come miss back home in the US. This time, they were to visit Tokyo, Hakone national park and Kyoto and took part in a range of experiences along the way. We are happy to report that they loved it.
Our memories of the trip are so vivid–and positive–and we have you to thank for that. The itinerary was perfect for us, from the cities to visit to the activities to experience within them. Hakone was a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and was a nice segue to Kyoto too. I had never been there while I lived in Japan but it is glorious. Taking the various modes of transportation around the city was a particular treat–especially the pirate ship.
The other activities we experienced were great, too. We ended up attending the sumo match in the morning, simply for logistical reasons, since we wanted to be across the city by Saturday afternoon, but even in the relatively empty sumo stadium, the wrestling was still so interesting and entertaining.
The sake tour was another treat. The tour we were given was, shall we say, incredibly thorough. We learned about the most minute details of the traditional inn at which sake had once been crafted, but juuuust when we were beginning to fight the urge to look at our watches, the tour ended and we were treated to an incredible wide array of food, sake and microbrewery beer. Really, both the tour and the sake tasting were great. The folks who ran that inn had spent a lot of time and effort in making us feel welcome, as did any Japanese shop or restaurant owner. It wasn’t uncommon for us to receive a small gift from our hosts, a gesture which seemed to convey a gratitude to us for travelling to Japan, even in the aftermath of the earthquake (whose effects could not have been less apparent).
The other activities were wonderful. Yuriko was such a sweet tour guide for Kyoto, and having her gave us a nice little breather from having to find our way around the city. Last, we had the cooking class, which only reaffirmed our belief in the complexities of Japanese cooking, and impressed upon us the skill required even to scramble an egg properly! All of it was great fun.
Andy and I are accustomed to doing our own thing when we travel, and it was nice to have our trip punctuated with those planned activities and tours. The itinerary books you provided us were such a helpful lifeline too; Your detailed explanations about public transportation, hot spots around each city, and good restaurants were spot on.
We will wholeheartedly recommend Japan and Inside Japan Tours to our friends and family. Thanks again for making our trip so memorable!
~Annie and Andy
It doesn’t matter how many times you have been to Japan, there will always be something new to experience whether it be a cultural activity, a new place or a random meeting with a local. Each trip to Japan is very different, but it will be uniquely Japanese and full of experiences that you can only experience in Japan…..What a great country!