Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan and the mats

Hi fellow Tauck travelers!
I have a question for those who have been on Essence of Japan.
In the Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan hotel - do we get a bed, or do
we have to sleep on mats? I don't think I can sleep on a floor mat....

Also! One more question - did anyone else do bullet train back to
Tokyo airport at the end of the tour? I got a way better flight pattern
with less stops and better price doing round trip Tokyo on Delta but
we have to take the train there post tour. Is it difficult getting on the train
with luggage? How did you get from the train station to the airport in Tokyo?

Thank you in advance for your help!


  • I was on this tour last year. I don't recall the name of the onsen, but I'm not certain that's the same one. In any case, we were given a choice between American or Japanese style rooms. The American room had a standard bed. The Japanese bed wasn't a mat on the floor, but a mattress or futon.

    Re trains, I answered this question in another thread a few days ago:

  • I would think you could go ahead and make your round trip arrangements, then arrange for a local flight between Osaka and Tokyo. I just checked and for a one way from Osaka to Tokyo in May, it would be about $200 per person in economy. If you don't feel comfortable with the trains, this will put you at the airport. Get a flight that gives you a couple of hours at the Tokyo airport.

    Also, there are two major Tokyo airports so may sure you go to the right one. A travel agent can help you.

  • edited October 2023

    Here is a futon bed

    A typical futon. Quite a thick mattress and duvet which has a flower pattern but have the special cover like the ones you see in my photo, comfortable but getting up off a futon especially the middle of the night seems to be so much more tricky than just getting up off the floor. Do try them out to get the full experience of living like an everyday Japanese person. We stayed in several Onsen or ryokans and even a temple lodging just a couple of weeks ago .

  • At first I thought the top photo was unbaked bread dough!

  • to BKMD
    October 22

    "I did this trip last year. Spent 3 days in Tokyo at the end of the trip and flew home from there. The train from Kyoto to Tokyo was easy. The high speed rail (Shinkansen) leaves Kyoto to Tokyo about every 15 minutes. The trip is just over 2 hours. You can buy tickets at the Kyoto station just prior to departure. And the station is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the hotel, which Tauck covered (TD gave us cash)."

    I see your post, pasted above - how did you get from the train station to the airport? We leave from HND

  • scarlettrosezz - I flew from NRT and took the NRX (Narita Express) from Tokyo Station with no transfers. The people I travelled with flew home from HND and took a train from another nearby station in Tokyo, though I don't know specifics. A google search "how to get to HND from Tokyo" brought up this site as the first link:

  • We just returned from the Essence of Japan tour! Although it appears that your hotel is different from the one we stayed in, we opted for the traditional room versus western room. Futons were placed on the floor but were very thick and comfortable-we had a great night’s sleep.
    Regarding transportation home… a few on the tour took the train to Tokyo and then I think they were going to call an Uber to get to
    Tokyo airport. I think they had an upgraded train ticket that insured extra space for their luggage. Others on the tour took planes from
    Osaka (ITM) to Tokyo and then home. We opted to fly from Osaka (KIX) to the states. It’s about an hour from Kyoto to ITM; it’s an hour 20 minutes from Kyoto to KiX.
    Hope this helps!

  • You are all great, thanks for the information! My daughter and I are on the Mar 28, 2024 tour and SO EXCITED!

  • Hi Dbfm: I would love to hear more about your experiences on the Essence of Japan tour. What words of wisdom do you have for those of us who will be taking this tour in the coming year?

  • edited October 2023

    I would recommend that you read a bit about the history of Japan. Also read the story of the 47 Ronin - it's a true story, not some fable -ōnin (there are also books about the 47 Ronin - the story was used prior to and during WWII to represent Bushido (, the samurai code of honor). They are buried in the Sengakuji Temple which you can visit - very close to a subway stop.

    Read about the establishment of shogun government and especially about Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603. A shogun ruled Japan from 1192 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

    During that time, society was divided into classes, with the Emperor at the top. Then Shogun, Daimyos, Samurai, Ronin, Peasants, Artisans, and Merchants. The lowest class was the eta, those who worked in trades such as slaughter houses.

    I believe the Geisha were in the Artisan class.

    In the later 1800s, the Merchants became much more important as Japan opened up and began trading with the west. They went from very low status to very high status (and wealth) after the Meiji Restoration and the abolishment of the samurai. It's a fascinating country with a long history. Japan had a highly developed culture while Europeans were living in mud huts.

    [Also, if you have time, read about Shinto, the religion of Japan.]

  • MM Walsh ( and anyone else interested)
    It was a great trip! We completed the pre-arrival entry on the Visit Japan website. We zipped through the arrival process at the airport.
    Be prepared for generous meals! Although our TD said there will be changes to some of the hotels for 2024, each of our hotels had an extensive and delicious buffet breakfast with both western and Japanese choices in addition to ordering from the menu.(The Park Hyatt Tokyo as well as Four Seasons Kyoto in particular). Lunches were also more than ample! About a month prior to the trip, we had the concierge at various hotels secure dinner reservations for most of our dinners “on our own”. (In Kyoto have dinner at one of the restaurants on Pontocho - it’s a narrow dark alley-way loaded with restaurants and bars.)
    In Tokyo go to Shibuya Crossing - look it up online for more info.The Ginza shopping district is loaded with every designer shop imagjnable. Beneath the Tokyo Station is a city unto itself- loaded with shops, restaurants (Ramen Street) and toys. We navigated the Tokyo subway- with a lot of help from the people at the info desk!
    Take advantage of the Onsen!
    Regarding clothes: we all dressed very casually. A sport jacket is not necessary- but everyone did dress “smartly casual” for both the opening and closing dinners. Also there is usually a bench area to sit to tie shoes after visiting various sites - so foot comfort should determine shoe choice.
    We exchanged a modest about of dollars to yen before we left. We used ATM’s at the 7-11’s when needed. Make sure to bring US dollars to tip the TD at the end of the tour.

  • Hi Dbfm: Thanks for sharing your experience! Especially the packing advice. :)

  • We are going on the April 22 Tauck Essence of Japan trip. We are going early for 4 days and plan on sightseeing locations not covered by Tauck. For previous travelers, are there any must see locations not covered by Tauck in Tokyo. We are not planning on going out of Tokyo over those 4 days.

    We have T-Mobile phone service. This has served us well in Europe and South America. I can't see any purpose for an e-sim or similar. Any thoughts on that subject?

    Is there any reason to get a JR Pass if we won't be leaving Tokyo? I have Passmo on my phone and can load that in the train stations. We welcome your thoughts.

    Thanks and looking forward to meeting those who are going with us.

    Glenn & Patty Camp

  • Patty, I also have T Mobile which in my opinion is the best for international service, free texting and emails. When I was in Tokyo I fulfilled a long dream of mine and went to a Kabuki play, my trip to Japan ended in Tokyo so I did not take any extra time there, was ready to go home.

  • Tokyo was the least impressive part of our Japan tour. Kabuki sounds like a good idea!
    Didn’t get any special phone plan while we were there, we use WhatsApp which is free and message with internal connections.
    If your tour ends in Tokyo, hopefully the TD can give you ideas and help you decide whether a train pass would be beneficial.

  • British I also have What's App but not everyone uses it. I agree with you about Tokyo, the time I spent there was enough for me, the Kabuki play was 4 and 1/2 hrs but it went quickly and was absolutely amazing.

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