Archive for April, 2012

Thank you for all of your work

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Dear Eri,
I would also like to thank you for selecting such excellent hotels especially Keio Plaza hotel in Shinjuku (ichi-ban) because of the variety and best quality of food at the buffet restaurant –  and the quad room which we understand is very special size in Japan.
and Biyu No Yado with beautiful onsens and snow Monkeys were special and Yukki our host is so considerate of us.
We had such beautiful sunny weather and Cherry Blossoms were everywhere we went !!!
We have had a beautiful holiday and we managed to work out the trains and we just went where we wanted to and when we wanted to.
The only time we got lost was in the subway shops under Osaka Umeda station – that was very big – but we did take a compass.
Thank you for making all our arrangements,
everything went as booked and our family had a beautiful holiday.
Everyone in Japan was glad to see people starting to visit again after 2011.
Domo arigatou gozaimasu.


Thanks for organising things for us

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We got back from Okinawa ok (just a little late due to fog in Sydney). For your interest I have attached the travel plans we put together for the trip. The version I have sent you has had minor updates, since we got back, to add in the things we found out while we were over there. eg. how to get to Hedo Misaki.

General comments on the trip

  • Sue and I had a good time in Okinawa and feel it was a worthwhile trip.
  • If we had another two days we would have included Tokashiki Island and checked out Shikina-en Gardenand Sefi-Utaki. Maybe even a stay in the Nago or Cape Manza area if time permitted.
  • Okinawa is an entirely different place to the parts of Japan that we have been to before. We would not recommend Okinawa as a good place to get started in Japan. We would however recommend it as a place to visit for someone already familiar with other parts of Japan
  • The basic 3 day package in your advertised offer would not have satisfied us at all. Extending the trip and including the stay in Okuma worked well.
  • Nahana Hotel was fine, although the first room had a damp smell to it (possibly due to the high humidity on the island). Service & Breakfast were good.
  • JAL Okuma Resort was outstanding. The service, the accommodation, meals and the  facilities were all of a very high standard. Being a resort and a bit far away from alternative restaurants meant you were pretty well locked in to dinner there (unless you felt like walking the 1.3km to an alternative).  Dinner at the resort worked out about 4000¥ per person.
  • There was nothing complicated about the express bus 111 to Nago or the bus 67 to Okuma Beach. The usual Japanese bus ticketing system applied. Although we had worked out which stop we had to get off at Okuma, the driver made sure we knew when to get off. The bus to Cape Hedo was more of a problem to work out in advance, but we did get a timetable from the Tourist information at the Yuiyui Road House and the lift to Hentona bus depot by the resort made finding the required  bus terminal easy. We would have liked to do more in the Cape Hedo area but the restricted timetable and the fact that bus stops (aside from the one at Cape Hedo) were not easily identified or marked on a map meant we had to be conservative to make sure we got back to Okuma ok.
  • Finding places to eat in Naha was not a problem. Okinawa has it’s local food variations, but we didn’t mind that. It can be confusing choosing from the many restaurants in Kokusai-dori but there are some restaurants in the area around the Hotel Nahana which are a bit quieter. Another good place to eat was in a shopping centre near the Prefectural Museum in Omoromachi called “Naha Main Place”.
Comments on the Shurijo Castle World Heritage Tour
  • Doing the tour allowed us to see a number of things in the limited time we had but the flip side is that we always seemed to be rushing through things.
  • Looking at the map it seemed there was a lot to see in the area around the castle and we guessed we would not get much time on the tour. We made a point of spending time ourselves in the area surrounding the castle on the day before and focused on the “paid area” including the Seiden during the tour. There wasn’t a lot of point following the guide around listening to explanations in Japanese. As it was we just had enough time.
  • The audio guide could only be used while on the bus and had a lot of good information on most things but was light on in some things. eg. Himeyuri Kaikan
  • We could have done with a lot more time at the “Cornerstone of Peace”  and time to visit the nearby “Okinawa Peace Prayer and Memorial Hall” which we only saw from a distance.
  • Okinawa World consisted of a walk through a very long limestone cave with a walk back through a shopping area. We would probably trade this with more time at previous stop.
  • Lunchtime meal was good.

Comments on the Northern Okinawa Tour

  • The guide on this tour did an excellent job and worked very hard, providing commentary, telling jokes (which we couldn’t understand but got the crowd laughing) and even singing traditional songs. Even though we couldn’t understand a lot we appreciated the amount of effort she put into it.
  • We liked Ryukyu Mura better than Okinawa World from the previous day. At least it was laid out as a village and you could see the traditional architecture as well as the artisans at work. We gave the Habu Show a miss.
  • Ocean Expo Park and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium were very good. It would have been worth staying overnight in the area so we could spend more time there.
  • Nago Pineapple Park didn’t really have much to see as a park. The highlight was the tastings of all the pineapple and tropical fruit products. Mind you they did have some nice fruit wines, juice cordials and cakes. 
  • Lunch was good.

Trip Highlights

  • Shurijo and surrounding area 
  • We enjoyed the walk to Hiji falls and the Ufugi Nature Museum.
  • Cape Hedo and the view along the bus route of the more rural areas of the island.
  • Naha Prefectural Museum. The history museum needs a fair bit of time. The Art Gallery is not very large.
  • Himeyuri Kaigun and Cornerstone of Peace. Very Reminiscent of the peace parks and museums at Nagasaki  and Hiroshima.
  • Tsuboya Pottery District and museum
  • Lacquer ware Shop (Kakuman) in Kokusai-dori
  • Kokusai-dori was an interesting street to walk along with the shops and arcades. We walked the length of it several times over the duration of the trip.
I have some photos of bus stops, the hotels and strategic intersections I can send you for reference if you like. We have excess pamphlets from some places and the tours so I will probably drop them in to you at some stage for your reference. They might be useful if you get any enquiries.

Anyway thanks again for organising things for us. Aside from the glitch at the Stamford, things went quite well and we were able to enjoy ourselves.
Tony & Sue 

Your organisation for us was fantastic

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Dear Olivia,
Thank you SO much for all you did for our trip: we had an absolute ball, and your organisation for us was fantastic. We are already planning a return in for koyo in late October/early November next year, 2013!!
The JR Green Pass was amazing: best thing ever.
All the hotels were great: the Metropolitan in Sendai gave us an end of corridor room, which was wider, and had western beds on a slightly raised floor: sort of a cross between a western and a Japanese room and really big: it was wonderful. 
I think I could live in the Nagoya Marriott forever: the rooms are HUGE, and the bathrooms are to die for: although next time we might be really picky and request a room with a better view we  were on the lowest of the guest floors (20th) which was fine, except we looked straight out on the adjacent view at all.
Granvia as always suited us perfectly. I love that place, and the new Osaka station is fabulous: loved it.
And having brekky included at the Shinagawa Prince was amazing: we LOVED that! AND we paid minimal extra (1000Yen per hour) for a late check out
yesterday: we had a quick shower and long brekky, left the hotel for some sightseeing around 9.30am and returned about 1.30pm, had a quick udon noodle lunch, and then a shower and left the room around 3.30pm for the 4pm limo bus: best way we have left Japan ever usually we travel up from Osaka,  never again!
It was so good to get to the airport feeling fresh and clean before the flight, and yet we had still done quite a bit on the day, Happoen garden, and the historic Shinagawa Tokaido Post road area.
So again, our thanks
Best wishes

The organisation of JTB is nothing short of superb workmanship

Monday, April 16th, 2012
Hello Yoko,
How many people come to Japan hoping to see Mt Fuji as we did. And the cherry blossom in full bloom. The weather has been good with only 1 day of rain & a bit of a sprinkle yesterday morning.
Keiran is a wonderful tour host give him more trips & I’ll go on them in actual fact we all will.
The different foods he has introduced on most of the free nights. And he has helped me no end with my diet. The tour escort Akiko Shimada in Tokyo was excellent too.
She also gave me “No Wheat” written in Japanese that I have used when eating by myself.
Hotels are wonderful & the welcome dinner was the best i’ve ever had inc 3 who didn’t want to stop drinking the sake by the bottlee.
How they woke up in the morning I don’t know.
The organisation of JTB & Keirin’s is nothing short of superb workmanship.

Regards Graeme 

Thank you for all your effort

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Dear Lily;
We had a phantastic time at Niseko, the accommodation at the Vale was excellent as it offered a very spacious lounge with kitchen and dining as well as two very comfortable bedrooms with beautiful views to the slopes and Mount Youthie. The location of the Vale is also very convenient. Overall we had good weather and fine snow. However the biggest discovery was the friendlyness of the japanese people, they were just so kind and helpful wherever you went and we found them so accommodating. Please promote it as every visitor will enjoy the overwhelming japanese hospitality.
After one week in Niseko we had a nice time in Tokyo at the Prince Hotel in Shinigawa, again a great and convenient location to get around in Tokyo which is just so exciting with all the variety it can offer. No problem to go by train everywhere. We also went to the fishmarket at 5.00 am in the morning and had a beautiful fish breakfast with all the delicacies what a unique place in the world.
However the highlight for me was the train ride on the bullet train to Kyoto and Hiroshima, what an experience, but that is just the daily life for the working people.
For me Kyoto is a beautiful city including the surroundings, again very friendly people and unbelievable culture unfortunately we could not make it to the “SUMO Wrestling”. Kyoto was very peaceful and relaxing.
Our final destination was Hiroshima where we stayed at the RIHGA ROYAL HOTEL close to the A-Bomb Dome and the Peace Museum. This is the most impressive  location one can visit to find peace in yourself. Everyone has to visit this place to learn how we should shape the world for our future, the we will realize we cannot continue as we are now as we have to seek and find peace for this world. Again we just indulged in the kindness of the japanese folkes.
After two days Hiroshima we returned to Tokyo for an ovenight stay at the Prince Hotel and again enjoyed the busy atmosphere.
We left on Sunday 18 March and can only find praise for the time we spent in Japan  and are looking forward to discover more.
Therefore please help us to find more beautiful spots in the country where we can meet more local people.
I would like to thank you for all your effort to make all the necessary arrangements for our holiday you just have made it so good for our journey.
looking forward to planning our next holiday during 2013/14 to Japan.
Kindest regards from

Everything went well

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Hi Emerald,
Just back from Japan
Just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for all of your organising and reorganising for our trip
Everything went well with transfers and pickups
Niseko was fantastic as was the Hilton
Thanks again and I will recommend JTB and Japan