Off to Japan in two days!



  • i had Larry for Japan, he is great.

  • Maria526, How far in advance did you get tickets for Kabuki?
    Looking forward to more of your experiences!

  • Dbfm, I happened to find them online about a week prior to arrival in Japan. Google KABUKI-ZA which is the Tokyo grand theatre in Ginza. The shows change monthly and there is a morning show and then a 4:00 pm. We did that one. It was wonderful. Bring binoculars so you can see the costumes and makeup.

  • I had the hotel get me a ticket when I went I had an aisle seat, close to the stage and next to where the actors walked through, the play is long with an intermission, they'll give you a tablet that you hook to the seat in front of you and you it translates so you can follow the play, if I remember correctly I had to pay a minimal sum for it but don't really remember. The play is long but worth it. It's marvelous.

  • We are on the April 27th small group tour. I appreciate all the comments about this trip. It seems that the third time is a charm. Originally we were scheduled for 2021 and then rebooked for 2022. I am glad we will finally be able to make this trip and my husband and I are very much looking forward to it. My only regret is missing seeing the cherry blossoms blooming.
    Larry was our tour guide when we did Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in 2015 and he was absolutely amazing.
    Again, thank you for all the comments regarding your experiences on this trip.

  • It's the start of day 11 for me. We arrived by train in Kyoto from Hiroshima yesterday late afternoon. Had included dinner at the Four Seasons' restaurant and it was very good.

    On our first day in Hiroshima, we visited Miyajima Island. At my daughter's insistence (with permission from the TD), we separated from the group and hiked part way up the mountain (can never pass up a hike!) behind the streets of the town There's many more shrines with beautiful landscaping up there. Our TD has never seen that area. If you're adventurous and in good shape (a lot of steps, some trails), I recommend it.

    Yesterday we visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum and the site where the bomb was dropped. Suggestion for the museum - there's a lot there and limited time (an hour or so) to see it. The first half is mostly stories about individuals and how the were affected. While tragic, it's somewhat repetitive. The second half goes into the history of the development of the A-bomb in the US and other countries and how it affected the world. I found that part more interesting. If you spend too much time on the first half, you won't have time to read through the nuclear history area.

    Following that we visited Orizuru Tower for a view of the city and an origami session, folding a square paper into a crane. That was quite challenging for most :)

    Then we went to an art museum (which contained one of Dali's melting clock paintings) and a beautiful garden behind the museum. Everything was blooming. If you're into gardens, I suggest coming in early April. Between the cherry blossoms and everything else (tulips, daffodils, plants that look like azaleas, but I don't think they are, etc.) Now is the time to see them flowering.

  • Great reporting BKMD. as a gardener, I think they will be deciduous azaleas which look very different from evergreen ones. I have one about to bloom.

  • Agree with BKMD regarding the flowers and trees here. We are in Hakone leaving tomorrow for Matsumoto and the Tabira Olsen. We have been blessed so far with the most gorgeous weather, in the 60’s and even going to 70! The flowers blooming and seeing all the cherry blossoms now that we are higher up has been fabulous!! Today we went to the Itchiku Kubota gallery of kimonos. One of the most stunning displays I have ever seen! You will love the grounds, fountains and gardens as much as the mind blowing fabrics and details. And today we were blessed with SPECTACULAR views of Mt. Fuji. Very few see it this close and so clearly! I consider myself very fortunate! It is forecasted to rain in Takayama Saturday, but I cannot complain at all. Fabulous trip so far!

  • Has anyone on tour run into the sandstorms hitting Asia? I hear masks are back in Tokyo, not that they ever completely disappeared.

  • Currently in Kyoto. Nothing here. Masks are worn by most hospitality workers and students, and a mix of others. Perplexing is the use of masks outdoors

  • Yes, we have been hearing of the “yellow sand” coming from China. Today we had what looked to be a mist of grainy air, and out Japanese tour director told us it probably was that. However, no one in our group has had any difficulty breathing…. However we are out in the country in the mountains now.

  • Would love to hear about the Ryokan experience!

  • @British …we are staying in the ryokan tonight. Lovely place with beautiful, big traditional Japanese rooms. You can choose to sleep on a tatami/futon if you like, but there are very limited numbers available. The countryside is gorgeous and the roads narrow and winding to come here.its amazing the coach can make it!! We all got into our yukatas, socks and slippers ( no shoes here) for a fabulous nine course dinner with entertainment. There are three Onsen baths here, two are outside. No clothing, no swimsuits, no jewelry allowed, and you must scrub clean prior to entering. All natural springs, at various temperatures. Separate for men and women. Great experience!

  • Yes. I remember doing just that years ago when I had my swimsuit model figure😂😂😂

  • Had our farewell dinner last night. Will be leaving rainy Kyoto later this morning via Shinkansen to head back to Tokyo for a few more days before heading home. I was hoping Tauck would provide the transportation from our Tokyo hotel to Narita, but they said no, as it's after the tour and not the same city. They will provide us the 10 minute taxi ride from the Kyoto Four Seasons to Kyoto Station. :)

    Over the last 2 days, I walked 16 miles in Kyoto (free time). One of the recommended activities (not part of our tour) you'll see in the guide books is the Philosopher's Walk. Personally, I found it underwhelming (and lots of people doing it).

    This is a great trip and I highly recommend it. Only minor complaint is we saw so many shrines and temples, they all look the same after a while. It was such a pleasure travelling in a first-world country, following my last trip, Egypt.

  • BKMD….Have a good trip home. We extended our last tour in Paris last spring. Not unusual to then be on your own back to airport.

  • Here's one for the tip department. If you take Japan Rail, your credit card may not work in their kiosk. We tried to buy Shinkansen tickets with Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 different accounts/cards) and a Capital One card. None of them worked. one of us had to run outside the station to a 7-11 across the street for an ATM, then come back and buy the tix with cash. Card worked fine at the ATM.

  • edited April 15

    I believe Tauck considers an extra three days after a tour as part of the tour as far as still including taking you to the airport, but it’s worth checking as they seem to be changing all these major things.

  • British - It would have been OK if we were in Kytoto, where the tour ends, but since we're back in Tokyo, that's different.

    Also, as a follow-up to my last post, our credit cards don't work for the Narita Express tickets either, which is run by JR East. The non-working CCs in Kyoto was the JR Central rail company, and still no good.

  • BKMD - This is a great trip and I highly recommend it.

    What were your top 3 things that made it a 'great trip'?

    Perhaps number one was that it is a first world country. :D

  • BKMD- have thoroughly relished reading your comments/thoughts/tips about the trip. Glad you enjoyed!
    Looking forward to Maria526’s additional comments.. as well as those who are going in the next few months.

  • We are on the November 2nd tour after rescheduling 3 times because of Covid. Love reading all the tips and comments. Enjoy! Anyone going on Nov. 2nd?

  • We are in our second night in Kanazawa. Yesterday was a LONG day on the bus from the Ryokan to here. Very long. Today was great with visits to the Samurai neighborhood and house, the beautiful gardens here and a fun Samurai show. IMO the Nikko is fine. The rooms are smaller than other hotels but very clean and the beds are comfy. The Chinese restaurant here in the hotel is superb. Choose it for your included night!! Off early tomorrow on the high speed Shinkansen to Hiroshima!!

  • Back home and thought I'd post a few pics. Apologies for the forum software if some are sideways. They are all upright on my computer.

  • The Japanese sure know how to do gardens!

  • Yeah. It helps being in a place where it rains. We had 2 days of rain during the trip. Unlike the western US where it typically rains for 10 minutes, then stops, there it rains all day, non-stop.

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