We are back home after a fantastic trip to Japan and a bus tour of Taiwan. Everything worked exactly as planned. First let us compliment you on the level of accommodation chosen for us. The Nagoya’s “Marriott Associa Hotel”, once we found it, was very up market for our normal level, the Matsumoto “Tokyu Inn” was satisfactory and the Ryoken in Yudanaka was an extremely pleasant experience even though we only stayed at the “Biyu-No-Yado” for only one night, as they had no other guests they closed the Ryoken for maintenance and moved us to other Ryoken where the accommodation and food was just as excellent, unfortunately we never found out the name of this Ryoken as nobody could speak English and only Japanese identification was evident. The Takayama Ryoken “Hotakasu Yamano Iori” was not as spectacular as the other two but more than satisfactory. From there on the Quality of accommodation in Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka was of a great standard.
Your recommendations of sightseeing and transport option were excellent. We did improvise some train travel and incorporated more stops particular a Cherry Blossom stop in Hikone and Himejei. Travel by train was on the whole easy except getting lost in the huge station like Nagoya and the Osaka subway system. On our arrival at the Nagoya Station, it was late evening, we got hopelessly lost and only through numerous enquiries did we found the Marriott hotel. The following day our tour guide, Sumiko Fukami, gave us an orientation tour of the station even though it was not on our itinerary and way past her tour time. This basically set the tone of the whole trip, every time we were lost or looked confused somebody was always ready to help even with the language barrier. A good example I like to recall: we decided to take the train from Yudanaka to Takayama via Nagano, Naoetsu, and Toyama. The Journey through the mountains was fantastic and once we arrived in Naoetsu the conductor from the previous train made sure we were at the right platform and than shepherded us to a warm waiting room and only than did he leave us.
Japan is a country of Temples, Shrines, Castles, Fantastic Landscapes, Cherry blossoms, Beautiful Customs and History. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience this extraordinary country and welcoming people.
The shortage of tourists made our trip even more memorable as we were often the only foreigners in restaurants and at sightseeing spots, however the opposite is true for Taiwan which is being over run by main land Chinese whose behaviour of pushing and very loud behaviour is opposite to the more refined Japanese people behaviour.
One note of something you were probably not aware of, the Free Novotel Shuttle bus in Taipei does not operate between midnight and 6:05, we just had to wait for over an hour for the shuttle.
The Taiwan bus tour was well conducted and delivered everything its promised but after our own sightseeing in Japan it came a bit of a shock by the tour leader always pushing and given time limits on sightseeing some times not even enough time to take a decent photo. Such are group tours.
I am starting to ramble on so to close off again we are very glad we did visit Japan and maybe one day in the future we are able to see more of the fascinating country and helpful friendly people.
Thank You Clem and JTB.
Erich & Rebecca