Posts Tagged ‘Castle’

Skiing at Hakuba

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Hi Peta

Just emailing to let you know that Daniel and I had a fantastic time in Japan, the skiing at Hakuba was awesome, the accommodation was great, the owners of the lodge made us feel very welcome and it was lovely to share stories/information in the common lounge/dining room with everyone else, lots of fun. All of the hotels you booked were great to stay in and the Japanese breakfasts were delicious too.

The rest of the holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto was brilliant too, with many wonderful temples, shrines and castles to see and of course great food including delicious pastries which was an unexpected surprise.

Your instructions on the Itinerary were absolutely fantastic and very helpful, which made our trip much easier when we had to work out how to get to places we were staying at.

Thanks once again for your great service and we are very happy to recommend you and the Platinum travel service to everyone we know.

Cheers, Armando

Just wanted to let you know

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Hello Eri,

I’m not sure if you remember me but you helped organize my recent visit to Japan and I met up with you at your workplace one morning to collect documents etc just before I left. 
I returned from Japan last Friday and I just wanted to let you know that I had a great time and to thank you for all your help.

All went very smoothly , the hotels were all easy to locate and very close to a railway station. I particularly liked Matsumoto (great castle!) and Kanazawa, which is like a smaller and less crowded version of Kyoto. The weather was lovely and sunny and a lot warmer than I had expected.
Tokyo was buzzing of course. The Studio Ghibli museum was a lot of fun, I’m glad I made the effort to go there.
Tsumago was interesting and “off the beaten tourist track” and the surrounding countryside was absolutely stunning.
Anyway, thanks again for your help. If you need a reference at all let me know.

David

Thanks for organising things for us

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Olivia,

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.
Regards,
Tony & Sue 

Thank you for your efforts

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Hello Olivia,
 
We thoroughly enjoyed our 3 weeks in Japan.
Just to recap a little, we spent the first 4 nights in Tokyo (Shiba Park Hotel); the next 2 in Yudanaka (Ryokan Biyu no Yado); 4 nights in Kyoto (Ryokan Hatoya); 4 nights in Osaka staying with Japanese friends; 3 nights in Hiroshima 1 in Kurashiki and, our final 2 nights in Tokyo at Shiba Park Hotel again.
In Tokyo, we had two pre-arranged tours you booked for us.  A half-day Tokyo tour and a full day Mt Fuji / Hakone tour.  Both of these tours were excellent.  As we were travelling with our 11yo daughter, having English-speaking tour guides made everything so much easier for her … and for us too.
Shiba Park Hotel continues to be a friendly, comfortable and conveniently located as well.
I’ve already mentioned Yudanaka and Ryokan Biyu no Yado.  What a wonderful little town and a brilliant inn.  The Snow Monkey park was my wife’s choice, so I didn’t know what to expect.  However, the two nights we spent there could easily have become ten! 
We had the best time there with Yuki, Masao and Craig.  They couldn’t do enough for us.
Kyoto and Ryokan Hatoya was a different story.  This was my third visit to Japan, and third to Kyoto so, I’d seen most of the touristy things already.  My wife and daughter enjoyed it though.
Ryokan Hatoya was excellently located, so close to the station.  It was very comfortable.  Some of the staff spoke quite good English, but it was hit-and-miss as to whether they’d be on duty when you needed them.  Their onsen was good too.
One area that was curious to us was breakfasts.  Not only at Hatoya, but it was highlighted there.  There seems to be a notion that Westerners eat huge breakfasts.  Here, and at Yudanaka, our breakfasts were far, far bigger than we could eat.  It resulted in a lot of wasted food and a feeling that we’d ‘let down’ our hosts.
My last visit to Japan was 18 years ago and, back then, the breakfasts were not nearly as big as they seem to have become.  Maybe there could be some education of accommodation providers to offer a ‘tick the box for what you’d like’ for the set breakfasts.
Some of the places we stayed at, offered buffet breakfasts (Shiba Park Hotel and APA in Kurashiki).  We found that a good option too.
While in Kyoto, we did a day trip to Arashiyama.  This was a very pleasant, easily accessed area.  The unfortunate part for us was that we chose a long weekend to be there.  Naturally, that meant we had several thousand of our closest friends there too.  Oh well, you can’t do much about that!
If you were lucky enough to be there on an average weekday, it would be quite scenic and a lovely day out.
Apart from the very well conducted Kyoto/Nara all day tour, we also found Nishi-Honganji Temple; walked the Gion District and found some great places to eat.
Can’t say too much about Osaka.  We stayed in the home of friends in the southern suburb of Yao.  They showed us around their town, mainly the Tennoji area and, we went to Horyuji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest temples and a truly amazing place!  On top of that, we saw the Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Harbour Village and Osaka Castle.
Our daughter loved all these.  Tempozan Village was new to all of us and the Ferris wheel afforded great views of the city.
In Hiroshima, we did all the usual things; the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Park, Shukkeien Garden (beautiful … and so close to Flex too!) and, Miyajima (always good to visit).
 
Next stop was an over-nighter in Kurashiki.  In hindsight, I’d not recommend an overnight stay in this town unless there was no other choice.
The Canal Area of town is beautiful and well worth a day trip, even a long day trip to take in as much as possible.  However, we didn’t find too much else to interest us in the 24 hours we had there.
Forget the Museum of Natural History … it seemed like it hadn’t been updated since it opened in the ‘80’s.
From Kurashiki, we went back to Tokyo and the Shiba Park Hotel for our final two nights.  It was nice to be back in an area we knew well.  Jane and Mia went to Disneyland on the following day, while I checked out some motorcycle shops.
 
On our last day, with an evening flight home, we just took things nice and easy, got to the airport early, shopped, ate and, thought of what awaited us at home.
We had a fantastic trip, made so much easier by the efforts of yourself and JTB.  Thank you for your efforts … especially after we re-arranged everything following the March disaster.
Regards,
 
Jeff & Jane and Mia

Home after a fantastic trip to Japan

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Hi Clem
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.
Many Regards
Erich & Rebecca

Every time we would book with JTB

Monday, February 14th, 2011
Dear Lily;

Thanks for your help with our recent trip to Japan. We had a good time there….and plenty of walking. I will quickly ring you to say thank you and to also say next time and every time we would book with JTB.

Regards Chris and Rita.

A quick hotel report.
Hotel Nikko Narita.
Bus at the airport across the road…ready and waiting. Great…good breakfast…no noise…7 Eleven down the road 200 metres.

Shinyokohama Kokusai Hotel
My choice…good location for Shinkansen. But!!!!! They do not turn off the heating.
Totally stupid. That forces you to open the window to let in fresh air. Leaving you with outside traffic noise. Breakfast voucher…is enough to get you going.
Can’t recommend it because of the heating.

Royal Park Inn Nagoya
What a lovely hotel…which will be demolished next year. Nice room…bigger….older style. Heating is left on in Winter….but it is not connected until you turn it on.. Relief…nice and cool. Drink voucher supplied….a nice touch. Nice and civilised in the lounge. And a good variety of drinks ( non alchoholic ) We paid for breakfast…1650 yen….but very good 4 the price.
Good selection….lovely Danish pastries. A great hotel.Fairly close to the station.
And they allowed us to leave our bags in the foyer without charge until 1.30…while we visited Nagoya Castle. I did offer to pay a fee but they said no.

Cross Hotel Osaka
Great. Beautiful upgraded room with a special Japanese shower and bath. Around the corner is the Shinsaibashi arcade. Breakfast reduced to 1300 yen…and we were happy enough.

Everything just works in Japan…but homework helps.
Thank you for the good plane seats both ways.

Chris and Rita.