THE REAL JAPAN / Discover the unspoilt Japan
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by Antonio and Patricia Cabral, Directors of the educational consultancy TOGETHER on 14/03/2017
March 1st - March 11th
No, we had travelled once before , Antonio and Patricia
we enjoyed every minute, we liked the kindness of the people, the organization of daily life, the order and safety of living.
by Family Jones on 08/03/2017
Fukuoka, Sasebo, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Ibusuki, Yakushima, Kagoshima, Yufuin and Beppu.
5 Day ALL Kyushu Rail Pass
Perfectly organised tour of Kyushu which provided many unforgettable memories from the haunting museum of the Nagasaki Atomic bomb and the ground zero site; visiting Gunkanjima; travelling on the bullet train and the quaint Ibusuki Tamatebako train; impeccable service in all the hotels and Japanese 12 course banquets; trekking through the rain forests of Yakushima; learning the etiquette of using the Onsen; picturesque Takachiho Gorge and the seven hells of Beppu. The culinary experiences and the friendliness of the people were second to none.
Last but not least, our tour planner Wakako was lovely, meeting and greeting us at the beginning and end of our tour to ensure we had all our documents and understood the plan; her impeccable planning meant our holiday went very smoothly and was easy to follow. We contacted her once during our tour and she sorted out our query very efficiently and followed up with a phone call the following day.
by Mica on 18/01/2017
Jan 10 - 17, 2017
Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Beppu, Kurokawa, Fukouka
Each hotel booked for us by our travel agent was convenient as it was beside the train stations, and information was provided as to how to get around the city by ourselves (who are non-Japanese speakers). Kyushu is recommended for those who prefer to travel and see traditional Japan, as opposed to Tokyo and Osaka. We arrived in one of the cities, and wasn't expecting snow. It made our onsen experience much better in Kurokawa.
by snow seeker on 29/12/2016
Tokyo, Nagana (to get to Hakuba ski resort)
Having received great service beforehand from the Japan Travel Centre, the trip went very smoothly, with all the pre-arranged bookings and transport being exactly as I'd hoped.
Whilst snow was late arriving in the Nagano area, there was still some good skiing and there was the advantage of there being few people on the slopes.
The people in Japan are extremely helpful - be it in the hotels, railway stations or simply in cafes and restaurants. They evidently want you to enjoy the experience of being in Japan.
by da5id on 23/12/2016
Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, Izumo, Hiroshima, Miyajima
14 days ordinary
Historical sites(e.g. Temples, Shrines)
Japan is a magical place. The way Shinto, Buddhism, and lively capitalism coexist side by side is often breathtaking. The trains are wonderful, and the food simply amazing. I had a truly unforgettable experience, and would love to go again.
by S&B on 28/11/2016
Tokyo (Shinjuku), Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Tokyo (Shinjuku)
Sandy helped us with our booking, worked within our budget and provided us with a brilliant itinerary. She stayed in touch right up until the day before our flight to wish us a great holiday. The service throughout was brilliant. We stayed in hotel rooms and two Ryokan's and each was picked with our travel and itinerary in mind. We managed to get everywhere we wanted to with ease - and we also fell on great weather, which is a bonus. Each of the hotels picked had helpful staff, willing to provide information and interested in our travels. Brilliant service, we will recommend to friends and definitely, we will be booking again in the future.
by 4 sisters on 28/11/2016
18th October - 6th November
Fukuoka, Takachiho, Kurokawa Onsen, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kurashiki, Okayama, Koya-san and Osaka
First of all, I wanted to thank you Wakako of the JTC in Fukuoka assisted us throughout the planning and booking of this trip. Wakako 'held' our hands and offered many invaluable advice. I communicated with Wakako through emails. She typically answered my questions (which were many) within 24 hours. Working with her made me feel welcome to Japan before I arrived to Japan!
This was a special vacation for 4 of us - 2 of us traveled from the US and 2 from the UK. Before we contacted JTC, we used its website to find the accommodations we were considering and then further evaluated them by using other resources such as TripAdvisor and tourist guide books. JTC website is definitely a very valuable resource in researching itinerary and accommodations. We booked the accommodations, bus pass and rail pass through JTC. Wakako figured out all of the transportation needs for us once we decided our itinerary. The accommodations we selected were mostly 4 stars with one or two were 3.5 stars. We generally like all of them; I have to specially mention Ryokan Sanga where we spent 3 nights to enjoy the onsen town. Not only Sanga offered very hospitable services and enjoyable onsen, their food (breakfast and dinner) were all delicious! I was sad to leave Sanga after our 3 days stay. Every staff we met from Sanga were very nice, truly made you feel home away from home. That could also say to many people we met during our vacation in Kyushu and some other smaller towns/villages. Wakako is a shining example - they go out of their way to help you when they can. When an moderately big earthquake occurred in the northern part of the Western Chugoku, Wakako called to let us know she already checked with Ryokan Kurashiki to make sure that the earthquake didn't cause damage to Kurashiki and we could proceed our journey as planned. She called us while she's off work in the weekend. This is truly a 'first class' customer service!
Another favorable experience is the Japanese food! I can't imagine the variety of Japanese food until I traveled there. As long as one keeps an open mind to try, one could find plenty of pleasant surprises with Japanese food. I never had a bad meal while I was in Japan. The only problem is that I now find many Japanese food where I live in the US are over-rated and overpriced.
During our vacation in Japan, we typically packed our day with activities being a tourist - shopping, food and museum in Fukuoka, Takachiho gorge, Kurokawa onsens, Hiroshima peace museum, Miyajima Torri gate & the Itsukushima Shine, the Korakuen Garden, Himeji Castle, Koya-san and the Okunoin cemetery, and finally more shopping and eating in Osaka to wrap up our journey in Japan. The cultural experience we had over these 17 days in Japan is almost overwhelmed - we all truly had a great time! And we all want to be back to Japan, hopefully soon.
by Californians on 28/11/2016
Nov. 4-15, 2016
No, this was trip #6
Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Kurokawa, Kirishima, Kagoshima, Nagasaki
JR Kyushu Rail Pass
The Japan Travel Center provided excellent transportation, accommodations, and service for our trip. The SUNQ bus 3-day pass allowed us to travel through the Aso Volcano country (yes, down into the steep caldera) and could also be used on ferries. We used it first for a day excursion from Fukuoka to Dazaifu to see the beautiful Dazaifu Shrine and Kyushu National Museum, both located in a large park with easy access to each other (moving sidewalks, cogwheel incline) We also used the SUNQ bus pass on a ferry from Kumamoto to Shimabara Island, where we caught a vintage diesel train to explore Shimabara Castle, full of interesting Christian and Japanese artifacts, and to see the carp swimming freely on the edge of the roads in Carp Town, a few minutes walk from the castle.
The JR Kyushu Rail Passes transported us quickly from one destination to another, and accommodations were usually close to the train stations, where we could also pick up day tram passes for sightseeing. The only hotel that was not near the train station, The Best Western Rembrandt, was a 20-min. bus ride from the train station and a 45 min. bus ride to the ferry for Sakurajima Island (not convenient), but it did have a gorgeous view of Sakurajima from the hotel room. My suggestion would be to forego the view and select a hotel closer to the ferry port or train station, not in between. Once in Kagoshima, taking the ferry to Sakurajima is a MUST DO. There is a convenient tourist bus that goes around the island with a 15-min. break at an observation point, where we got beautiful views of Sakurajima Mountain and Kinko Bay below. The visitors' center is also well done, with much in English and a 5-min. walk to the ferry port. As far as the other hotels, they were equivalent to first class, 4 star hotels, so were comfortable with a wide variety of Japanese food for breakfast though some Western food was served as well.
The most extraordinary accommodation was the Ishiharaso ryokan, a truly amazing place because of 3 outstanding reasons: Its LOCATION beside a rushing river that is viewable from most of the public and private onsens and rooms; its INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DESIGN-- Built in 1945, it uses very high quality materials (shoji, lighting, folk art, stone and wood flooring, tatami, furniture, interior irori (fireplaces), vases, textiles that are museum quality); lastly, its CUISINE is not only delicious and artistically presented, but creative and beautifully served in antique dishes, cups, glasses, coasters. Fish comes wrapped in slowly burning paper; rice is served in 19th C. wooden/iron containers, beef is cooked to your own specification on hot plates placed before you! Twenty dishes are included in the dinner courses, all served in one's own private table, with artistic panels between other guests and a garden outside to enjoy.(There is also an English/French-speaking staff—Clement-- who gave us a one-hour tour/explanation of the site!) Besides the transportation and accommodations, the service provided by Sandy at JTC was excellent. Besides showing me on a map all the locations of our trip, Sandy booked (at my request) a sake tasting in Kumamoto that provided us with much written information in English about the brewing process and various flavors. The head brewer was on hand for questions and, to our surprise, provided us as parting gifts, bottles of our two top choices of sake. In addition, Sandy provided many bus and train schedules over dozens of emails, making sure that each day, our connections were tailored to our sightseeing plans. Her service was prompt, accurate, efficient, and gracious.
For other Western travelers going to Kyushu, I will briefly note some of the other highpoints of our trip, which I recommend for your enjoyment, besides what I note above:
1) The sand baths at Ibusuki are enjoyable and easy to manage since signage is in English. For about 8 pounds, one receives a yukata, slippers, and a souvenir towel. The bathing area is tented, so no harsh sun, and one receives a locker and a nice soak in an onsen after the sand bath. Beer and snacks are available for purchase on a terrace overlooking the beautiful beach.
2) The Meiji Restoration Museum, in Kagoshima, is newly built and incorporates high tech displays, including a theatrical "story" of the Kyushu samurais' part in the Edo consolidation of power. English headphones and front row seats make this explanation enjoyable and clear. Across the street is a samurai's house, with floor plan and explanations in English.
3) The Ropeway Cable in Nagasaki is easily accessed by bus #4 near the train station and affords beautiful views of Nagasaki, especially at night. This view, 360 degrees, is considered one of the world's top three: Hong Kong, Monaco, and Nagasaki.
4) Dejima in Nagasaki, where Dutch traders were confined to live/work is rebuilt beautifully, like a "living open-air museum," with men wearing 18thC. Period clothing and women (who rent kimonos at the site), walking throughout the village. Interesting displays, including a 1/15 scale miniature of the village, and ambiance make this place memorable.
by Rob on 28/11/2016
When I first looked at going to Japan on holiday i was looking to arrange it all myself and found it a little overwhelming, I then came across this fantastic website with their friendly and helpful staff and after filling in their simple custom tour form the wheels were set in motion. The two weeks in Japan were some of the best ever experiencing a culture that was so different from my own from the food to the friendly locals, there is just so much to do the two weeks just did not feel long enough but is giving me a great reason to go back and i will definitely be using this fantastic site again and will be recommending it to anyone who is interested in going to Japan.
by Steve on 08/11/2016
Osaka, Nagasaki, Wakayama
We prefer to plan our own holidays but on this occasion chose to book some of our accommodation and internal travel in Japan with Japan Travel centre - and we are so glad we did. The staff at JTC were brilliant - their help in planning our holiday (which involved city visits, stays in rural areas near to the Aso mountain range and flights to the islands of Okanawa) was invaluable. Throughout our holiday we were able to seek advice and support from the staff at JTC - we were about to board our flight when we discovered that Aso mountain had erupted the day before and we were grateful for the assurance we received from JTC that it would not affect our plans. The standard of accommodation booked through JTC, with one exception, was excellent. When we had a problem we contacted JTC and within an hour the problem was sorted. This was our second visit to Japan and we love the diversity it offers and have found the people to be most friendly and helpful. Travelling around Japan is easy compared to other countries and I would have no qualms in advising others to do what we did and plan your own itinerary but that said, to have the benefit of the advice and support of the Japan Travel Centre meant that we were able to maximise our enjoyment and were appreciative that at any time we had access to JTC in Japan who would do their very best to address any problems we might have.