How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We seek to support local family businesses and to help create an economic situation where culturally significant and historical artifacts, buildings and cultures can be preserved and maintained. This is accomplished by staying at Japanese inns (ryokans and minshuku), and taking guests to destinations they may otherwise not be able to get to on their own. An example of this is Kameoka, a small town just west of Kyoto city where guests can experience a slower pace, visit local artisans and see rural Japan. We also visit locations that require the support of tourism in order to maintain their historical buildings. Without tourism the cost of maintaining these sites would be simply impossible.
We use public transportation as much as possible and travel in smaller groups. The smaller groups are less destructive than large groups and are easier to manage and more interesting for our guests.
We stay in ryokan inns whenever possible rather than large hotel complexes. The ryokan inns are often built to blend in with the surroundings and do not leave a large scar on the land. Many times the owners live in the ryokan or nearby and have a vested interest in maintaining the beauty of the area.
The ryokan as a whole is not heated or air conditioned. Each room has a heater/AC which is used only while the room is occupied.
Promotion is done via the web and we do not send out mass produced junk mail. Printed materials are also kept to a minimum.
Supporting local businesses and family owned businesses means that the money spent at a destination will stay in that area and help the local people. We also use mass transit which allows visitors to Japan see and socialize with normal Japanese people. Tour buses tend to isolate tourists and limits interaction with locals. Also the smaller groups means there is a good chance you will become friends with the other tourist in your group.
We also work with guests to prepare them for their trip by recommending reading about Japan and Japanese history. This gives tourists a better understanding of why the sights are important. Our local leaders know the area and have a vast network that they can call upon. They can take tourists to friendsí shops and restaurants instead of just department stores and hotel restaurants. Also since they are local they have a vested interest in keeping the area attractive and clean. We seek to have people connect with the culture and preparation is an important part of that.
Another important point is that one has less hostility toward cultures which they have met and admire. Our tours help travellers see the sights and meet the people. This fosters cultural understanding and decreases prejudices.