We had a great trip. The group was good, everyone got on well with one another. A nice friendly group with good interactions. Everyone turned up on time on tours. We had dinner together with 2 separate couples a few times.
Maya san was a great guide. She looked after us very well . Always professional, full of tips and never flustered. Also added some extras in like showing us around the streets of Takayama and Osaka. Way above and beyond what she was required to do. The other two guides Izumi in Tokyo, and Misumi(i think) in Kyoto were also great fun. They all had great sense of humour.
Accommodation: All the hotels were great and near the train stations.
The HIda Hotel was not as good.
The Granvia was also a bit disappointing when compared to the others.
The best was Hotel Niko in Kanazawa.
All the meals were great. No complaints at all. Better than I would have expected. Traditional dinner and breakfast in the ryokan in kimono was a memorable experience. The farewell dinner in a swish restaurant with views of the Kyoto skyline was way beyond our expectations.
Tours: Coaches were clean and comfy. Plenty of room.
Having seen the Tsukiji markets in Tokyo, I feel the Omi-cho market in Kanazawa could be deleted which would provide more time at Kanazawa Castle and the adjacent Kenroku-en garden.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t see much of Mt Fuji due to the weather, which was just bad luck.
The free day in Kyoto was great. We went to the bamboo forest and the shrine with 10,000 torii gates( and 100,000 tourists!) 2 separate train lines in different directions. Not difficult but could be challenging for some. (Perhaps these 2 sites could be included in the tour? and still have an afternoon free?)
Overall, we’ve had a great time and fond memories!!. I got heaps of photos of the castles and would happily go back to Japan with JTB again. Also no hesitation in recommending JTB to friends and families.