Our wonder family holiday in Japan
Japan | Mar 27 - Apr 6, 2023

Caroline S.
United Kingdom | Reviewed on Apr 11, 2023

Our family of three generations (grandmother, 74, daughter & husband, and grandchildren, 18 & 14) all absolutely loved our first ever visit to Japan. Our first overall impressions were of the politeness and respect, the cleanliness (of streets/stations/trains/shops/hotels) and the efficiency and punctuality of the trains. Our guide, Suzuki san, on our first day in Tokyo, was so informative, interesting and friendly. He realised that on our first day a quiet walk along the river with beautiful cherry blossoms was a good introduction - then we ventured to the shops, which the grandchildren especially loved. We all thought the Meiji Shrine was wonderful, and the Togo Shrine, where they were celebrating an anniversary, so there were monks chanting, and stalls outside. The next day another guide, Yoshiko, took us to Sensoji temple, which although impressive, with all the stalls, was extremely crowded. Earlier we visited the fish market at Tsukiji, which was fascinating. Moving on to Kyoto, which we loved, and June, our guide was really good and explained everything so clearly. The Golden Temple was one of the highlights, and we loved the Nishiki street market. We had a tea ceremony, which was impressive, and went through the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, which we all liked very much. We changed our planned itinerary the next day, as it involved many hours travelling to see cherry blossoms in Yoshino, and we all thought that would be too tiring, and we saw many, many beautiful cherry blossoms in and around Kyoto. We gave June the day off, and looked after ourselves in Kyoto.
On our way to Osaka we had a tour of the Suntory Whisky Distillery, which the adults enjoyed, particularly my son-in-law - the children weren't allowed on it, so had to wait outside. On to Osaka with June, who showed us the beautiful Castle Gardens. Thence to Hiroshima, and the wonderful Japanese garden, followed by the memorable and thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park. Our guide, Fumiko, was very interesting and sympathetic. Finally, our fabulous Onsen hotel in Hakone. It was wonderful to be in the countryside, out of the cities, and we all enjoyed our Onsen baths immensely. The six course Japanese dinner was delicious, and beautifully served. Then back to busy Tokyo! Our hotel was by the Shibuya Scramble - so we were in the thick of it! We found a karaoke bar, which for me was a novel experience and fun.

Hotel Review
The Gate Hotel Kyoto Takasegawa by Hulic
Kawaramachi-dori, Takoyakushi-ku, Kyoto-shi,

The hotel is so comfortable, and very well located. The staff are friendly, and polite. The breakfasts were so good! We really loved the lounge/bar/restaurant up on the top floor, with stunning views.

Authenticity & Character
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Arrival to Japan

We had very long queues, due to Covid checks and immigration, which was quite tiring, after a long flight, even though we had done all the QR codes on the Visit Japan Web. Our greeter met us successfully, but didn't seem to know about our driver, who was also waiting for us. Eventually, we rang him and met up. Our greeter sorted our our Suica cards. Our driver gave us a comfortable journey to our Pullman hotel.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Modern Tokyo Tour and cherry blossoms

I've already reviewed this earlier

Quality of Experience
Toyosu Fish/Tsukiji Market Food Tour

I've already reviewed this earlier

Quality of Experience
Explore Asakusa

Impressive, but very crowded

Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) and Ryoanji

A beautiful, peaceful place

Nishiki Market

Really fun and interesting, with all the different foods on display, and eating/tasting available

Visit Kyoto's most famous temple- Fushimi Inari - Taisha

Very impressive, and a special place

One-day trip to Arashiyama, a true cherry blossom paradise!

A beautiful place, with lovely traditional houses, shops and restaurants

Traditional Tea Ceremony

We all enjoyed this very much, learning about the traditional rituals, and tasting the matcha tea.

Suntory Yamazaki Whiskey Distillery

A very interesting tour, and even if one didn't like whisky, the tasting was worth doing!

Sightseeing & Food Tour of Osaka

The Castle Garden was beautiful, but very crowded. We didn't do the food tour.

Hiroshima & Miyajima Day!

The Shukkeien Garden was beautiful and peaceful and not too crowded, despite the cherry blossom season. We then visited the Castle briefly, which was quite a warrior-like building, reminiscent of the samurai. Then we went to the Peace Memorial Park, which was very special and thought-provoking. We didn't go to Miyajima as it was so crowded, with long queues, and it would have been very tiring. We were very happy with what we did see. Our guide, Fumiko, recommended a very good Okonomi-yaki restaurant for our supper.

Discover Hakone

This was heavenly, being right in the countryside, in the hills, and experiencing the wonderful, relaxing Onsen baths. The hotel was amazing - the rooms were large. Our 6 course Japanese dinner was truly memorable. We didn't want to explore Hakone the next morning - as it was our last proper day, so it was relaxing to enjoy the hotel and garden, and then make our way back to Odawara to catch the train to Tokyo in our own time. It would have been tiring to check out/go to Odawara/do the tours/come back to the hotel to pick up our bags, then back to Odawara station, then to Tokyo.

Local specialist: Kristy Baclea-an