20 independent reviews for Japan small group holiday, Japan unmasked

Reviews for Japan small group holiday, Japan unmasked

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review 3 Dec 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This was incredible trip. My favourite places were the beautiful seaside town of Kamakura, itís tranquil temples, great Buddha, the gorgeous Prince Hotel and seeing the Gion district of Kyoto. All the food was delicious and fresh. Accidentally seeing Mount Fuji at sunset and from the bullet train was amazing. The private thermal spring at our guesthouse in Hakone was wonderful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Great information packs before hand which are definitely worth reading. I didnít hire a Wifi device as hotel and guide coverage was good. Take only cash, as advised, itís safe and less hassle.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We went everywhere by public transport which was a great experience, authentic, cheap and highly efficient.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I cannot recommend the tour operator, our guide Hugh, or Japan highly enough! This is one of the best holidays Iíve ever been on and the first guided tour. Iíd wanted to visit Japan for a long time but didnít have the confidence on my own. It was my first time in Asia. Hugh was highly knowledgeable and had lived in Japan a long time. I felt he had helped to choose restaurants and the things we visited so had the flexibility to change things if they werenít as expected. This is a fantastic way to experience Japan. You see so much every day and have great authentic experiences and wonderful food. I would never have been able to see so much and learn so much otherwise. I loved that there were no single supplements and it worked well sharing a room for two nights at the traditional Ryocan guest house. Our group was 14 people, Americans, Australians and English; 6 solo 25-40 year olds and 8 retired couples. It was a nice mix and lovely group of people. Accomodation was all a good standard from 3-5 stars.

review 3 Jul 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I'd say the trip as a whole...thanks in large part to our knowledgeable and generous (in terms of availability and information) guide - Mark Fujishigi - he is a gem. In terms of stops, The loveliness of Nagano was a surprise (the zen temple ceremony really special) Takayama (the city as a whole and a wonderful restaurant we found Kyoya), Masamoto castle, and the okonomiyaki meal in Hiroshima. We weren't as satisfied with Kanazawa, Kyoto, Kurishiki - not because we didn't like the stops - but an extra day in each would be desirable....there was so much we didn't get to see (it would be great if 3 days were added but, if not feasible, perhaps Kurishigi could be eliminated) "One night stands" are hard. It was unexpected how much we loved travelling by public transportation (in contrast to other tours we have taken, not being stuck in a bus with others for x days was a real plus). We loved the train station in Kanazawa and Tokyo - the latter which we serendipitously discovered as incredibly lively and fun at night.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are interested in crafts and shopping, do your homework as to what you hope to see. A booklet focusing on 'outstanding and specific shopping opportunities (with directions how how to efficiently get from a to b). Also, if there are restaurants you want to try, coming prepared with a list of these as alternatives to the ones selected by a guide would be useful. Our most satisfying restaurants, aside from our great okonomiyaki experience in Hiroshima, were ones we found ourselves.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think the places we stayed had minimal negative environmental impact... .

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I cover this in Q 1. The only experience that was disappointing was the local Geisha 'tour.' Our local guide kept saying things like "x really happens here, but we won't see that, x happens here but we won't get to see this." Also for older travelers like ourselves, standing for 2 hours listening to information that we could read about in wikipedia was arduous. This is the only place on the tour where I felt having a 'cultural experience' - a performance, a tea ceremony, whatever - would have been a very welcome and unique addition.

review 27 Jun 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of it.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Travel light and make use of the excellent Japanese luggage forwarding system.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most definitely. The great majority of the travelling was done on public transport, which is obviously a good thing. The holiday was also very instructive in that it gave the opportunity to see how efficiently Japanese public transport systems are run and also how clean Japanese cities are. There are clearly some lessons to be learnt here.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An amazing experience, made possible by an awesome tour leader.

review 27 Jun 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Every day brought some wonderful surprises and the tour was so varied that every day was totally different. The highlights for me personally were a visit to the D.T. Suzuki Museum in Kanazawa and the visit to the O Torii Gate on the island of Itsukushima, where deer roam freely. The whole two weeks were a whirlwind of amazing sights, sounds and experiences. The Japanese people are some of the most polite and respectful people I have ever met and each place we visited was unbelievably devoid of any rubbish !

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The trip is pretty fast pacing, so you need to be relatively fit and able to live out of a suitcase for two weeks. Also be open to travelling on public transport, bullet trains and local trains etc.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We visited many small towns where goods could be brought at reasonable prices. The Japanese appear to be very progressive in terms of recycling and impacts on the environment. Due to their spiritual beliefs, nature is very much part of every day life and it was so easy to simply follow their lead and respect their way of life.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Somewhat fast paced, exciting, unpredictable, amazing and one I certainly will treasure forever. Our guide was second to none - I have been on a few guided trips in the past but this time our guide far exceeded any expectations, ensuring we were all safe, constantly well informed at all times and was simply such great and positive company. I cannot rate this trip highly enough.

review 29 May 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The contrast of the crowds in Tokyo to the quiet area in Nagano where we stayed in a priest's lodging. Every moment was fabulous.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Keep you packing simple, it's all very informal. Shoes that are easy to take on and off is an advantage as you often have to leave them at the door. Embrace the wonderful food.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No really.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was a truly amazing two weeks.
Tour op to respond to Q3 - 30/05/2017

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your review, Susanne. Iím sorry you feel this holiday did not benefit local people, reduce environmental impacts or support conversation. Our Japan Unmasked tour uses public transport throughout attempting to minimise the environmental impact of travelling so far around the country as well as being a unique experience in itself! 4 nights of the trip involve staying in small, locally owned minshuku inns (much like bed and breakfasts) where travellers interact with the families running them, along with one night in a temple lodging in Nagano supporting the local economies in towns and cities away from the most popular tourist centres.

review 11 Apr 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The day with the snow monkeys sticks in my mind but the morning we spent at the Buddhist morning prayer was also incredible. I would be hard pressed to come up with a favourite of the 2.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack carefully and pay attention to the expected weather in all the regions you are visiting.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think we brought good business to the locals and everyone maintained a respectful behaviour towards the local environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely amazing! Hugh did an incredible job showing us around and had an excellent rappor with the locals. This has been my favourite holiday so far.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Nathaniel, Welcome home! I'm delighted to hear that you had such a good time on the tour! We really try and get each of our clients right into the culture of Japan and show the best of what the country has to offer and it seems like you have experienced this and more! I'm delighted that our tour leader was able to facilitate this experience and that you had such a positive experience. I loved the snow monkeys when I visited Japan so I'm happy to hear that they were one of the most memorable moments for you. Thank you so much for travelling with us and for your glowing feedback! If you're ever thinking of heading back to Japan, or even one of our sister countries, Burma, Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, please get in touch and we would be more than happy to see you again! Safe travels for the future, Simona

review 30 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Our guide was the best guide I have ever had on a holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for long days.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I believe this holiday was respectful of the environment and supported local businesses.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

These 22 weeks helped me get a glimpse of living and working in Japan.

review 29 Jul 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I enjoyed the variety of locations we visited.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Quite a lot of travelling involved.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, generally felt that locals benefited from the tourism.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was a great holiday, with a wide range of different locations to enjoy. Slightly disappointed with the quality of some of the accommodation though.

review 6 Mar 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The art and Japanese craft museums blew me away and despite the cold temperatures, the temples, shrines and gardens still looked wonderful. Not living in a cold climate, I found the snow up north quite exciting. So sparkly white and soft! I found Hiroshima sobering but am glad I spent time in the Peace Museum. Tokyo always wonderfully frenetic and Kyoto serene. Lastly, the food. From gold leaf decorated icecream to cooking our shabu shabu; from trying countless varieties of Kit Kats (who knew there were approximately 200 types?), to those marvellous vending machines - so many memories!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack your sense of humour, your stamina and zest for adventure. Leave behind your job, your regular life and ho-hum existence, because you are about to embark on a fabulous food quest, happy holiday fun and make fantastic new friends. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and remember, what happens in Japan.....stays in Japan!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Definitely! There were gentle, constant reminders to conserve materials and reduce environmental impact eg carrying a bag for rubbish, collecting plastic bottle tops for a recycling project and not visiting particular "bird cafes". I especially enjoyed catching public transport, not only because it reduces air pollution but also because we got to mingle with the real Japan.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Terrific fun with a group brought together through skilful leadership. Heaps of flexibility and freedom which I particularly liked. We saw and did things we hadn't expected to do and tried so many delicious food styles. The holiday lived up to my expectations and piqued my interest for more, more, more (am already planning an autumn trip with friends!)

review 18 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The breadth of experience, from the neon lighted frantic pace of Tokyo, to the 5am chanting of monks at a Nagano temple, all connected by the thrill of the Shinkansen.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

A good level of fitness is required. Some group members found the pace and the packed agenda difficult to cope with, albeit that there was enough 'downtime' in all locations. Use this time to explore on your own- time away from the group is important, particularly if you like your own space. The good thing is that every part of each day is optional. Our guide was excellent and this meant we had experiences and saw things that we would have missed if we had been on our own. It's good to have some balance. ATM machines are available at every 7-11 store and each and every town seems to have one on every corner. Credit cards are not widely accepted. Finally, take good walking shoes and a first aid kit. Medical supplies are expensive in Japan- it was £8 for a small tube of antiseptic cream!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We stayed in local accommodation at times which benefits small businesses. We used public transport and walked everwhere, reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This wasn't so much a holiday as a travel experience. We loved the variety and the breadth of experience that was offered. From the initial booking with Toby at the holiday providers to dealing with Ben our guide, nothing was too much trouble and everything was handled very professionally. We have only one constructive point to make which was that we found the suggested restaurants quite expensive and our experience was that the quality of some wasn't great. We understand that each offered a different type of eating experience, hence their being chosen, however we struck out on our own and apparently spent far less than other guests who ate with the group every night. That was our choice, but single travellers who want the company of a group in the evening will need to budget more. We enjoyed the trip so much and were so impressed overall that we are already looking at the possibility of visiting Burma in 2017 with the same company.

review 16 Oct 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Staying in a monastery and sleeping on the floor for the first time and going to the onsen ( traditional bath ) for the first time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Have an open mind about food and other experiences

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Japanese people seemed to welcome tourists. They are very keen on recycling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Wonderful! One of the 3 best of my life.

review 15 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The Geisha tour in Kyoto. The guide was really knowledgable and personable.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack light there's lots of travel on and off trains and limited space in some of the accommodation .

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes we used local transport and stayed in Small family run Ryokan and Japanese business hotels. We ate locally produced food .

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very enjoyable. We were a family of 3 travelling with a 17 yr old son. We all had a very memorable holiday . It was full on though with little time to rest but we knew that before we set off and it delivered the anticipated full schedule.

review 28 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Much as we loved the temples, gardens and markets of Tokyo and Kyoto, the couple of damp days in Hakone were brilliant, staying in a ryokan with a private hot-spring bath on the balcony, beautiful meals and the 'great outdoors' on your doorstep. Although a popular tourist destination, it is possible to escape the crowds by going on even a modest hike. There is a world-class sculpture park set amongst the beautiful scenery, and the fabulous Pola Art Museum where we saw an exhibition of French Impressionists featuring all the greats. What an unexpected treat!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read up in advance on Japanese traditions and culture to get the most out of a short time. It is such a different way of life and there are many 'rules' and taboos which are good to understand.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Difficult to say. We were encouraged to use local transport, which was easy to navigate with the assistance supplied. Japan is well up on recycling so we participated.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We found it a fascinating taste of Japan, a first dip in rich waters. It was well set up by the team and we were fully briefed but allowed a level of independence that was perfect. The holiday fully lived up to expectations!

review 19 Oct 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

To many to identify one - from attending prayers with monks at Zenko-ji temple and being blessed to marvelling at Bullet trains; seeing snow monkeys; castle at Matsumoto; visiting Peace Garden and museum at Hiroshima to seeing red floating gates at Miyajima and amazing views from top of the island; visiting many onsens seeing a geisha I could go on and on!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Everything is taken care of for you no worries about booking or finding transportation or hotels etc. Dont take too much luggage you have to carry it! Lots of walking take comfortable shoes. Be prepared - very active holiday more of an adventure than a holiday -if possible have an extra day or so at the end to relax.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes travel is by public transport, local hotels and restaurants are used

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing holiday would definitely recommend, well organised from start to finish with lots of highlights also visited and saw many things that would not be seen travelling with a larger group. One of the best holidays I have been on and very good value for money. Great Tour Guide.

review 12 Oct 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It is a difficult answer because there are a lot of exciting bits in JU! Probably my favourite stop was Nagano. I loved the Zenko-ji Temple, a 7th century Buddhist temple that overlooks the city. The temple lodge was the best of all the accommodation, simple but special. I enjoyed the hot springs and last but not least the snow monkey in a park, 45 mins from Nagano.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I am a fashionista, so I always bring too many clothes! Don't do it! You can do washing at least in 3 places, you need to carry your luggage so keep it light and also use the space for shopping! Buying from local markets, help the community. Try all the different foods! They are amazing and always fresh

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes I did! I always shopped at the markets, I had coffee from small local place, and we used public transport that in Japan is absolutely amazing!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

My holiday was wonderful, William our tour leader, with his unique style made our holiday really special! It was great picking the right restaurant too! We never eat the same twice, unless we wanted to! I have already recommend to my parents and friends that asked me, seeing my pics on Instagram! I took 2000 pictures and my boyfriend another 2000! We will definitely pick another holiday from Responsible Travel, great CS.

review 19 Jul 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the A Bomb Dome and Peace park & Museum in Hiroshima! It was awe inspiring.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be ready to stay in close quarters a couple of nights in one of the ryokans. The rooms are quite small for two people and the shared bath situation is tight as well. Two nights there was a bit much.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Well, we all came and spent money! Some of us bought quite a few souvenirs:)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I loved the variety of sights. There was always something a little different to see and do. Loved the variety of restaurants! Every night we tried a new type of Japanese food. Our guide, Alain, was terrific! Very energetic and full of ideas, but also very cordial and patient with everyone. I'm giving it 4 stars, instead of 5 because of the ryokan in Takayama which I found less than comfortable.

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for travelling with us Kristin. Glad you enjoyed our Japan Unmasked group tour. And glad Alain the tour leader looked after you well. Thanks also for your comments on the Takayama accommodation. We appreciate that this involves sharing a room (for single travellers), which may not be ideal for everyone, but this is the traditional Japanese way, and allows our customers to experience a traditional Japanese accommodation stay, which they otherwise might miss. For potential future customers looking to avoid sharing a room, we would be very happy to discuss our full range of tours with them. Thanks again for joining us on the tour. Harry, InsideJapan Tours.

review 27 Mar 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Hard to sum up so much of the trip was truly great, but would have to pick the Maiko session.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go for it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, supported the local economy and hopefully minimal impact. Used my own chop sticks which were gifted to me at the onset, plus used the card to ask hotels to leave the washing of towels and sheets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic. Still raving about it. Thank you to David Lovejoy who looked after us and went out of his way to make our trip the best we could hope for. Great job David!!! Thank you Roslyn

review 10 Nov 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It felt like every moment of each day was a new experience. A holiday of variety enhanced by the tour leader introducing us to as many different types of Japanese food as possible. Japan is fascinating, the ultra modern against a background of traditional. I loved their simplistic art, Zen gardens, efficiency and positive attitudes.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Wear slip on shoes, as you have to take them off a lot. Be prepared for a fairly fast pace and be willing to embrace Japanese life.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Not really, only that we took cash into their economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent

review 22 Oct 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I enjoyed everything that I did. The food and accommodation were as expected and mostly better as it was not an expensive tour. The Japanese people were delightful - very polite, helpful and thoughtful and were a highlight in themselves I particularly enjoyed visiting two excellent art galleries and would like to do more next time The tour guide was excellent. He had a very hard task and had a difficult member of the group.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

You can get wi-fi in most accommodation so no need to buy an expensive gadget. If you do not like sleeping on the floor or eating sitting on the floor this trip is not for you. I would not undertake it again although it was a great experience. Keep a diary - it is really hard to remember events as you whizz round Japan. Have a go at all the food as it is all good

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think it helped local tourism but I doubt it had any other benefits

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent

review 23 Jul 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The Japanese people are very nice and go out of their way to help you. The food is also fabulous!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack lightly. Sometimes the hotel is across the street from the train station and sometimes it is a good 15-20 minute walk and you are carrying/rolling your own bags.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The Japanese society is a very eco-friendly society. No napkins and a lot of excellent public transportation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Lisa, many thanks for your great feedback about our Japan Unmasked small group tour! We're delighted to hear you enjoyed your holiday. We agree that the welcoming Japanese people and fantastic food are what make a trip to Japan so memorable and on our small group tours we always try to maximise your experience of both!

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