Michael and I cannot thank you enough for all your wonderful organization and reservations.
Our trip exceeded all our expectations and we cannot speak highly enough of yourself, and also the staff of Sunrise Tours JTB whose attention to detail was superb. We were met by their staff everywhere at all hours, night or day. Our day tour of Tokyo was in perfect weather with awesome views from Tokyo Skytree Tower. After finishing the tour at Asakusa we trained to Azabu-Juban for dinner and loved that area and its cafes. ANZAC Day we had a wonderful tour to Mount Fuji as the road to the Fifth Station only opened on that day and although there was snow alongside the road, it was a clear day. We enjoyed a traditional lunch at Highland amusement park The Kyoto Tour covered all the historical places that we could absorb in one day – we seemed to walk miles. We enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Kyoto Craft Centre.
Accommodation-wise – Shiba Park Hotel is excellent and all the taxi drivers, bus drivers and train station personnel recognized the name and knew its location and how to get to it. As you know it is a minute or so walk from Daimon Station and a few minutes more to walk from Hamamatsucho Station (both stations covering three train lines). Its restaurant serves excellent breakfasts and is open all day. We entertained guests for lunch there. Its staff were super-helpful and very experienced with international visitors (we left luggage with them twice). Coaches to Haneda Airport stop at Shiba Park Hotel and the staff were familiar with reserving seats.
Karasuma Kyoto Hotel was very good with nice breakfasts – continental or full – very central with a Daimaru department store around the corner, a train station entrance a couple of doors from the Hotel and a great variety of adjacent restaurants. On our last day in Kyoto a waiter at breakfast suggested we must visit Arashi-yama to see the bamboo garden. The town reminded me very much of Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains. We had a beautiful day there, training both ways.
Mystays Premier Hotel in Tokyo was convenient to Hamamatsucho Station and had very nicely appointed rooms and a good breakfast. The staff said they could not do anything about our return to Haneda Airport and, as recommended by them, we caught a taxi to Shiba Park Hotel a couple of blocks away who booked the last two seats on the limousine coach to the airport – very efficient.
Our friends met us on Sunday 28th after checking that we could get our Shinkansen tickets at Hamamatsucho Station instead of Tokyo Station which was a madhouse with people shoulder-to-shoulder, and our friends helped us get a Bento each.
Michael and I often stay at The Little National Hotel in Canberra so we were fine at the hotel in Kanazawa, but it would not suit everyone as the rooms are tiny with a small space around two sides of the bed. Breakfast was not good at all so we ate elsewhere. Our Volunteer guide was absolutely fantastic and we had the best day with him – we had to pay for him in addition to ourselves, including one-day bus ticket, entry fees, snacks, lunch, etc but he appeared to have a pass to access most places. We walked nearly all day – temple, tea house, Samurai house, Geisha house, gallery of local craft, morning tea, markets, lunch at the Kanazawa Culture Seafood Restaurant (after briefly queuing), the Kenroku-en Gardens and Kanazawa Castle, finishing with afternoon tea. Apparently he enjoyed our company as he told our friend who organized the day.
Our second day at Kanazawa was a one-day coach tour to Shinagawa-Go and Ainokura—Gassho and stopped at Sasaraya to “make” senbei crackers on our way home. We made the most of dining on local food in Kanazawa, walked the back streets looking for little restaurants with pictures of food on their menus – so easy to select by pointing! Michael is now hooked on Kirin beer and I enjoyed white wines without being specific.
Our last night in Japan was spent at a restaurant in Roppongi having dinner with former neighbours, their children, in-laws and grandchildren – very memorable.
Having Suica cards was fantastic and we had to top them up twice. We trained to Ginza on our first night. After lunch with friends at Ginza we trained to Yokohama with them on our second day then we trained to Shinjuku and finally back to Daimon. We got to understand the railway system quite well and travelled very confidently.
Blake, our suitcases were far too large for either of us to manage and we packed unnecessarily. We purchased small suitcases and backpacks in Japan and left our large suitcases at Shiba Park Hotel. The small suitcases fitted in the luggage racks of the Shinkansen.
We did take a box of Irish Breakfast Tea bags and purchased sugar straws and milk at 7-11 stores which are everywhere so that we regularly enjoyed familiar cups of tea in our hotel rooms. Our NAB Traveller cards were accepted at all 7-11 ATM’s.
Blake, thank you very much for your advice and for your arrangements which made our holiday in Japan a perfect and memorable time.
When I worked for the Managing Directors of Sony Australia, I met the Managing Director of Sony Music, whose vehicle number plate was ATD. When I asked him the meaning of his number plate, he told me it was his doctrine – Attention to Detail. You certainly planned our whole trip beautifully without overlooking any details and we sincerely appreciate all the thought and effort you put into our truly wonderful holiday.
Cheers, Patricia and Michael
PS: It was such a bonus to be in Japan at the time of the abdication of the former Emperor, and the installation of the new Emperor. How lucky were we to share the excitement with the Japanese people!