Highlights of Japan11 days
Let us handle the details
Expert Tour Director
Sightseeing with local guides
Personalized flight options
Maximum tour group size: 35 travelers
Recommended by 71% recommend this tour Read Reviews 
Overnight Flight 1 night
Day 1: Travel day
Board your overnight flight to Osaka today.
Osaka 1 night Hotel info
Day 2: Arrival in Osaka
Welcome to Japan! Enjoy a free evening to settle in to your hotel in Osaka.
Kyoto 4 nights Hotel info
Day 3: Sightseeing tours of Osaka & Nara
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Although it’s now an industrial powerhouse, Osaka was also the birthplace of many of Japan’s most well-known arts, such as Kabuki theater and the tea ceremony. Today’s guided tour offers a look inside the city’s historic sights.
• Visit the massive Osaka Castle, which houses a museum dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the legendary leader who built it
• Enter the nearby Osaka History Museum to learn about the city’s rich heritage
En route to Kyoto, stop in the former capital city of Nara for a guided tour.
• Tour the local Buddhist and Shinto shrines, including the Todaiji Shrine, home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue
• Stroll Nara Park, home to over 1,200 wild deer considered sacred by locals
Arrive in Kyoto in time for a welcome dinner with your group.
Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Kyoto, Gekkeikan & Fushimi
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Your Tour Director leads a tour of Kyoto, the city that served as the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years and is still considered its spiritual capital.
• Tour 17th-century Nijo Castle with its intricate architecture and unique alarm system— floors that sound like a nightingale when walked on
• See one of Japan’s most famous temples, the glittering Golden Pavilion
• Travel on to Ryoanji Temple, which houses the country’s finest Zen gardens
• Head outside Kyoto to sample another of Japan’s sacred arts at the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, where you’ll learn about sake brewing and enjoy a tasting
• See temples honoring the Inari gods of sake and rice at the Fushimi Inari complex
Back in Kyoto, relax at tonight’s traditional shabu-shabu (hot pot) dinner.
Day 5: Koga
Included meals: Breakfast
Discover Japan’s lush countryside as you wind your way to the town of Koga to visit the I.M. Pei-designed Miho Museum, which boasts an excellent collection of Japanese art and an extensive Egyptian collection. (Please note: if the Miho Museum is closed, you may instead visit the Kyoto Museum and Sanjusangendo Hall.)
Enjoy a free evening in Kyoto or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Geisha Tour & Dinner $135*pp Details
Spend an evening in Gion, the Kyoto district made famous by its traditional teahouses, theaters and geisha artists. Stroll through the area’s gallery and shop-lined streets on a guided walk before making your way to a traditional Japanese performing arts show at Gion Corner. Watch as the elegantly dressed maiko or geishas perform the famed geisha dance. Listen to the harmonies of the ancient Japanese six-stringed zither. And laugh along to kyogen, the country’s historic brand of comic theater. After the show, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant to savor some okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style crepe oozing with fresh vegetables and seafood.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $145)
Day 6: Free day in Kyoto
Included meals: Breakfast
Enjoy a full free day in Kyoto or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Hiroshima $549*pp Details
Destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped by American forces in 1945 to end World War II, Hiroshima has since rebuilt itself into a revitalized, modern metropolis. This full-day excursion to the historic city offers countless moving reminders of that fateful day. Drive along tree-lined boulevards to Peace Memorial Park at the city’s center. Here, you’ll visit the A-Bomb Dome, the remains of a building that partially survived the atomic blast. You’ll also see the Peace Memorial Museum, a two-building museum featuring displays of Hiroshima before the bomb, after the bomb, and on the day the bomb dropped. Afterward, pay a visit to Miyajima, a beautiful island in the Seto Inland Sea. View the dazzling Itsukushima Shrine, whose colossal red torii (entry gate) appears to float in the ocean during high tide.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $559)
Hakone 1 night Hotel info
Day 7: Owakudani Valley & Lake Ashi
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Board a high-speed bullet train to Hakone, a resort town in the Owakudani Valley. (Please note: You will need to pack a small overnight bag for your stay in Hakone, as the bulk of your luggage will be transported directly to your hotel in Tokyo.)
• Soak up the valley’s tranquility during your cruise on Lake Ashi, formed after Mount Hakone erupted 3,000 years ago
• Take in surreal views of Mount Fuji looming in the background
• Stop in the Boiling Valley to see the “Black Eggs” cooked in the hot springs (weather permitting)
• Pay a visit to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, with endless sculptures over its 17 acres and a gallery with more than 700 works by Picasso
• Wind down in Hakone’s famous thermal hot springs
Tokyo 3 nights Hotel info
Day 8: Tokyo via Mount Fuji
Included meals: Breakfast
Make your way to Mount Fuji, which stands an imposing 12,388 feet high, to take in panoramic views of nearby lakes and villages from the midway-point observatory. Then, continue on to Tokyo to embark on your first tour of Japan’s bustling capital.
• Start with a visit to the Meiji Shinto Shrine, final resting place of Emperor Meiji
• Wander through the shrine’s Inner Garden, home to irises that bloom in springtime and the spiritually powerful Kiyomasa’s Well
• Head to the top of the Metropolitan Building to get a bird’s-eye view of the city
Day 9: Sightseeing tour of Tokyo
Included meals: Breakfast
Your Tour Director leads another tour of vibrant Tokyo.
• Cruise down the Sumida River
• Explore Tokyo’s old town, including the ancient Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most sacred temple
• View the Imperial Palace and its impressive grounds
• Peruse a vibrant variety of hand-made crafts and local fare at the centuries-old Nakamise Shopping Arcade
Enjoy a free afternoon in Tokyo or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Japanese Traditions: Tea Ceremony & Tempura $169*pp Details
The Way of Tea, also known as the tea ceremony, has long been a staple of Japanese culture. About much more than just tea, the ceremony is one of hospitality and purification; in fact, the Japanese characters that express “tea ceremony” individually represent harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. Assemble with your group to participate in the long-honored ceremony. Afterwards, head to Ginza, one of the world’s most luxurious shopping districts. Marvel at the modern and upscale department stores and boutiques as your make your way along the bustling shopping promenade. Cap off your excursion with a traditional tempura (battered vegetables or seafood) dinner at one of Tokyo’s local restaurants.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $179)
Day 10: Free day in Tokyo
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Enjoy a full free day in Tokyo or add an excursion.
Rejoin your group this evening for a farewell dinner.
Optional Excursion - Kamakura $149*pp Details
Explore the countryside, temples and shrines outside Tokyo on a tour of Kamakura. This guided excursion takes you to Kamakura’s famous Great Buddha and Hase Kannon Temples. During your visit, you'll also enjoy time to peruse the arts and crafts for sale along Komachi Shopping Street.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $159)
Day 11: Departure
Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight home or continue your adventure in South Korea.
Add Seoul $699 pp
Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.
In South Korea, ancient tradition blends seamlessly with contemporary optimism, which you will discover as you travel from lush rice paddies to modern metropolises, from palatial pagodas to towering skyscrapers. Get to know the capital of South Korea—Seoul, a vibrant 600-year-old city the locals call the “miracle on the Han.”
Seoul 3 nights Hotel info
Day 11: Flight to Seoul
Included meals: Breakfast
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Seoul.
Day 12: Sightseeing tour of Seoul
Included meals: Breakfast
Get to know the South Korean capital on a guided tour.
• Step inside Gyeongbokgung, the imposing royal palace made up of 7,700 rooms
• Learn about the country’s history and art at the National Museum of Korea
• Step inside Jogyesa, the city’s largest Buddhist temple that features a collection of giant Buddha statues
Enjoy a free evening in Seoul or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Evening on the Han River $159*pp Details
Before sailing along the Han, pick up your chopsticks and try your hand at an authentic Korean dinner. Savor delicious Korean barbecue and mixed rice dishes such as bibimbap while sipping on sweet sikhye (rice punch). After dinner, embark on your cruise, winding your way through the heart of Seoul. As the sun sets over the water, you’ll see some of the city’s most beautiful and historic sites in a whole new light.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $169)
Day 13: Free day in Seoul
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Enjoy a full free day in Seoul or add an excursion.
Later, rejoin the group for a farewell dinner.
Optional Excursion - History of the Korean War: DMZ Visit $85*pp Details
Get an authentic look at the relationship between South and North Korea on a visit to the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone. Travel out of Seoul and begin your tour in Imjingak Park, where you'll view the Freedom Bridge. Board a military bus and continue on to a theater to learn about the fascinating history of the Korean War and the heavily fortified border. While in the DMZ, visit the Dorasan Station, the last train station before North Korea territory. Take in panoramic views of North Korea's landscape from the Dorasan Observatory. Please note: Soldiers will be screening tour participants at the entrance gate. Travelers need to bring passports in order to register at this checkpoint.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $95)
Day 14: Departure
Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight home.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Japan, U.S. citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return to the United States. No visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Japanese consulate for your specific entry requirements.
There are no health risks associated with traveling in Japan. Sushi and sashimi is not a risk, although eating kuma (raw bear) and botan (raw wild boar) is not recommended. No vaccinations are required for entry into Japan, but it is a good idea to check with your doctor or health official at least six weeks before
Transportation / Walking on tour
Transportation on the Highlights of Japan is conducted by private motor coach and train. When traveling by train there may be times when you will have to handle your own luggage, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage.
For some included visits and optional excursions, be prepared for some more walking through elaborate monuments and museums, with steps.
Clothing & Packing Tips
We recommend wearing light, loose-fitting casual attire. It’s a good idea to bring a sweater, as it will be helpful in an overly air-conditioned building in the summer. Comfortable footwear that is easily removed is a good idea, as you will be required to remove shoes frequently.
The yen is the currency you will be use on tour. Normal banking hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, although currency is generally exchanged after 10 a.m. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Japan, but it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. As ATMs are not always readily available, we advise that you take a combination of U.S. currency and traveler’s checks, which can be exchanged for cash at local banks or at your hotel. Credit cards can be used at larger stores and restaurants, but many shops and markets will only accept cash. We suggest that you inform your credit card company of your plans, so that your international purchases won’t be mistaken for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Water available in the restaurants is absolutely safe. However, for precautionary measures, it is advised that one carries mineral water.
During Japan’s cherry blossom season, “Hanami,” attend one of the many cherry-blossom viewing parties to see the beautiful white and pink flowers up close.
See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.
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Could be much better for so great country as Japan.
Group tours were organized for very fast walk, without any assumptions on the individuals who needed more time for walk, rest, and observation. That diminished the effect of the whole tour participation.
Disappointed in Japan
I have found Go Ahead tours to be a good value from a financial point of view. However, I am disappointed at the lack of access to the company while going on a particular tour. They should have a number that is available 24/7 that you can access with any problems. Plus, Go Ahead does not publish the amount of walking that is involved with any of their tours. This information is provided just prior to taking the tour but it is way too late to make an intelligent decision concerning whether this tour is the right fit for me. I could not take an optional excursion because of the amount of walking involved. When I told our tour director, she said that there were no refunds. She also told me to contact Go Ahead with any complaint. I tried on several occasions but could never reach them. I will not be booking any tours in the future with this company because these negatives far out weigh the positives.
Dear William, Thank you for taking the time to talk with us about your recent tour to Japan. As a reminder, our Emergency Service line is always available to you while you’re traveling. We can be reached 24/7 at 001.617.619.1911. Additionally, as we discussed, we are working diligently on a way to better display the exact walking information on our tours. In the meantime, we are here to help every step of the way. If there are any questions about the walking on tour, or any mobility concerns you might have, we are always happy to discuss the itinerary in detail with you.
Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | May 21, 2015
Highlights of Japan
We liked the Itinerary published on GoAhead Tours website, and that is why we booked the tour. But a few things went wrong with this tour. First, because of the bad weather our connecting flight got cancelled and we arrived in Japan 1 day later. When things like that happen, you expect Go Ahead Tour assistance to make sure you join your tour group. Although we joined the group on the next day OK, there was so much uncertainty. We did not get confirmation from the Tour Director when we were boarding the flight to Narita, and were not sure how our tour was going to begin. Emergency case was handled very poorly. In the end GoAhead representative met us in Osaka airport and arranged the transfer to Kyoto Hotel. But we did not know about it until very last minute. Second, Optional Tour to Gion District, Kyoto. No transportation was provided to get to Gion from the hotel. Tour Dirctor did not offer any options to get to Gion other than by foot. Under a heavy rain, it was not a walk, it was a race! She made a group of 19 people run for 45 minutes under a heavy rain to get to the Theater just to put us in line for the tickets for the Geisha show (first come first serve). No time for sightseeing, no time to catch your breathe during this run to get to the theater. So we spent 45 minutes running on foot, then 30 min's staying in line for a $13 show. What kind of a tour is that? why transfer was not arranged? and if we had to go by foot, why not give everybody enough time to walk and see around? and you pay extra for that! And the dinner after this tour was such a cheap one. So if you go on this tour, do not buy this optional tour. you would enjoy Gion on your own so much better walking at your paste, choosing a place to see and eat. And you do not need to be in a group to get tickets to the show on a first come first serve basis. Third, Kamakura optional Tour was a walking tour, and a bus transportation from the Hotel to Kamakura was not provided. You had to use public transportation from a hotel in Tokyo to get to Kamakura and then back to your hotel, so the tour was designed like a full day on foot. Fouth, Tour Director did not give enough time for sightseeing, food breaks, and restroom breaks during the entire tour. It was like racing from point A to point B. rush-rush-rush all the time. Not sure if it was a bad design of the tour, or just a poor job by the Tour Director.... But it was very disappointing to pay so much money for this race. The best time we had on this tour - was the 2 free days where we could walk at our own paste. Japan is an amazing country with so much to see and experience. Of course you cannot see everything during an 11 day tour. But you can certainly make your experience better by planning the tour time better. And unfortunately Tour Director was not very helpful.
Good day to one and all. I can honestly say that this trip to Japan was well worth the wait. It took me four years in order to get there, through planning and, yes, paying for this wonderful trip. The people that were with me, were not only kind, but , extremely compassionate and helpful in all the day to day activities that we all enjoyed. The scenery, the mountains, parks, flowers, lakes, rivers, snow even and the people, oh my. The total amount of respect that one has over there is awesome. If anyone wishes to travel to this wonderful country, you will be surrounded by beauty and people , who treat you with respect and understanding also.
GOOD ITINERARY BUT A DISORGANIZED TOUR
We have taken 3 trips with GoAhead and twice have had problems with arranging flights. Not a good track record. We asked to use specific airlines and we were willing to pay extra but we were told they do not have contracts with them. However other people on our tour were able to use these exact airlines. Very Unfair! We were told we could book the optional excursions while on tour. However when we got to Japan we were told a certain excursion was cancelled because there wasn't enough people and that we should've pre-booked it.. We weren't even given a chance to sign up for it on the day we arrived in Japan. Prior to the departure date the only tour we were told HAD to be pre-booked was for Hiroshima. It was NOT clear that this rule pertained to ALL OF THE OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS. We booked this trip because of the option to go to South Korea. This was the most chaotic portion of the trip. Apparently our itinerary had us scheduled to visit sites that happened to be CLOSED on those days. Why didn't the guides know this ahead of time? It was a mad scramble to change the entire Seoul Itinerary at the last minute. We had previously booked a tour to the Korean Folk Museum on our own and received a late night call asking us to change the date because now the city tour and optional Unesco tour was scheduled at that time. Because a DMZ tour was added by most of the group (this was NOT a tour offered by GoAhead) the Secret Garden had to be eliminated from our sight-seeing. Maybe GoAhead needs to offer the DMZ Tour since it seemed so popular and integrate it smoothly into the trip. A lot more work needs to be done for the S. Korea portion of the trip so BEWARE! The Highlight of the trip was going to Hiroshima. Yes, it's expensive but totally worth it. It's very moving and reminiscent of the German Concentration Camps. it's a big part of US and Japanese history and everyone should go there for a better understanding of what happened. GoAhead has good itineraries for their trips but I'm wary of traveling with them again because they won't accommodate flight preferences and because this past trip was so disorganized. Who needs headaches on their vacation?
Hello Gail, Thank you for writing your review. We hope that the contact you’ve had with us since your tour has been helpful, and we surely appreciate all of your feedback. We are happy to be able to offer our customers a variety of flight options for our tours, however options and availability can vary depending on destination. We apologize for any confusion in the process of booking optional excursions, but we’re glad that you enjoyed the Hiroshima excursion so much. We are happy to hear that you will be traveling with us again in the near future!
Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | October 07, 2014
I had good memories of my previous trip. I did not expect the quality of Vantage or Tauk, but the hotels in Kyoto and Seoul were not up to standard. The staff in Seoul was great, but the rooms not so. My room in Kyoto never cooled and I went to bed sans clothes and on top of my covers. In general there were too many shrines and temples in Japan and not enough other sites. The trip to Hiroshima was a highlight, although expensive. My greatest expectation on the tour was the trip up Mt. Fuji. We traveled to its base, "hoping its would be open" per our guide. A phone call could have given this information and the schedule rearranged to visit after it opened. I think there was too much "free time" particularly since we were in big cities of a totally different culture and language. Some of the free time was for dinner where we had no guidance as on a previous city tour etc. Our first tour guide, except for Mt. Fuji, was good. Michel in S. Korea was great! She had to balance my request to go to the DMZ [which almost all wanted to see] with the schedule already suggested. She picked us up on our first full day. The lady who met us may have laid the groundwork, but whoever did the most work, it was appreciated. The flight schedule was a little tough. After talking to a lady who has traveled with you many times, I found she had certain criteria about her flights to which you agreed. ANA and Korean Air were great! Continental was its usual sloppy self. For instance, the first leg had no ice or coffee cream for its beverage service. ANA allowed selection of beer or wine on two beverage passages and for dinner at no charge. The magazines were fresh and there were two of them along with the catalogue. The planes were spotless with up to date entertainment access. Returning from S. Korea, the seats were badly in need of new cushions, the one magazine was torn and dirty as was the plane itself, wine was allowed at extra expense and both connecting flights were an hour or so delayed. Flight attendants were much more engaged with passengers in little things that made the flights more enjoyable with both ANA and Korean Air. Although my experience with your company over the phone was great, [Thank you!], having to make my own seating was a negative not experienced before with your company or with any. Also, my original booking with Delta was changed to Continental which I only found about through my travel friends. I am sure I would have known later, but I should have been notified by you when the change was made. When I enquired, I met with the only negative reaction by phone as the lady inferred it could not have been originally so scheduled. I mailed a copy of it to my friends who told me it was wrong, thus the call re the change.
Thank you very much for your review on our Highlights of Japan tour. Your feedback is very important to the improvement and development of our tours and the services we provide before, during and after your experience. I have taken note on the hotel room quality, itinerary suggestions and suggested points of interest you commented on your review and have sent it along to our product development team. I have also gathered the information regarding your flight experience and will be sending it to my Flights department. I am very happy to hear you were satisfied with the quality of Korean Air and ANA for your flights. They are two of the best airlines in the industry and we are glad to offer these options to our customers. Hiroshima is a great sight to see! Although the price is high, this does include all of the transportation needed from Kyoto to Hiroshima and back. It is a full day excursion we are happy to hear was one of the highlights of this tour for you. If you have any additional commentary you can provide, please contact our Customer Relations Department. Ultimately, we want every one of our customers to feel completely satisfied. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to welcoming you onto another tour in the future. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | May 29, 2014
Japan in the Spring
I was a little nervous about traveling to Japan, but if your visiting Asia this is the place to go. Beautiful country, very western. Go Ahead Tours did a great job with the hotels. Some of the best hotels I have ever experienced on my go ahead trips. I know Japan has a lot to do with that. The country is so clean. People are so polite. The architecture is so grand especially in Tokyo. There were a couple of meals that were a little too authentic. Americans love their food. Not as expensive as I expected. I also thought the hotels would be small because of the American media. Not so, bigger rooms than Europe and Australia. Our tour director was very knowledgeable and very pleasant. Loved her!
A most enjoyable tour
This was a most enjoyable trip, even in the heat of early July; we traveled through a lengthy section of southern Honshu, from Hiroshima to Tokyo. Our tour group of 19, 20 including our entertaining and never-tiring tour guide, Micky-san, seemed just the right number of people. Apparently the tour just before ours had over forty people, and while such a size is due to Go Ahead's priorities, from what I read on this website, it is too large a group to travel together. I had a slight reservation about signing up for the tour for fear of being part of too large a group of tourists. I live in Manhattan and near a number of tourist sites, and I know what an obstacle course it can be sometimes for the locals to be walking past a popular site just as a full bus unloads its people all at once. Our group seemed to avoid this situation. Plus I wonder how difficult it must be for a single tour guide to maneuver so many people around for 10 days. That said, Japan is an attractive country, with a nice mix of old and modern culture. We saw temples nearing 1000 years old and a simply dazzling outdoor museum of modern sculpture and art nestled in the hills around Hakone. It is educating to see how the country's major religions mingle with one another, the various strands of Buddhism with their temples full of deities, some of gigantic proportions like the Buddhas at Nara and Kamakura, or the Sanjusangendo hall in Kyoto with its 1001 statues of the boddhisatva Kannon, and then see the more stark and, from what I could see, the icon-less Shinto shrines, with their decorated altars, torii gates and multiple stone lanterns. Then we add in a few castles, from the imposing and tall, [rebuilt] Osaka castle to the low-lying shogun's palace in Kyoto. And of course, in a number of these sites, are the gardens, whether flora and water, or rock and crushed stone, for which Japanese culture is so famous. The natural sites are attractive, although our one trip to the country to see Mt. Fuji and the Hakone attractions, except for the outdoor museum, mostly got rained or fogged out. On the other hand, there was some entertainment in braving the hurricane winds at the viewing site halfway up the mountain. As to the modern, we rode the bullet train, the Shinkansen, a few times; such a smooth ride cruising along at 120 miles per hours, considered the past and future at the Hiroshima Peace Museum and surrounding park, and encountered the strange architectural maze of walkways and art pieces sitting atop the Kyoto train station. There is a wrap-around view of Tokyo you get to see from the 45th-story observatory of the city's metropolitan building that can leave even a New Yorker with his mouth a bit agape. Western companies seem to dominate the shopping malls, with the local shops tucked inbetween, and probably every American fast-food chain is there, from Starbucks to McDonalds. And if you love Japanese food, well, you've come to the right place. Restaurants, and not just those serving Japanese food, abound in the cities, many tucked away in narrow, pedestrian side streets. It is common for restaurants to have pictures or models of their menu items, each numbered, so that you can point to, or say the number of your preferred dish. For those perhaps a bit nervous about sightseeing on your own during free times, there is a considerable amount of English used in the cities; it's not just spoken in the major hotels where you would normally expect a multilingual staff. Most signs in the cities are also in English, not merely in Western script, and public announcements are made in Japanese and English. Plus, I found many local people quite helpful in guiding you on the street as best they could, and as such you can maybe with only a minimal trepidation strike out on your own or with your friends to see the sights by taking the subway. If there is a negative to the trip, it is one often shared by tour groups in general, and that is the pace. In 10 days we saw an amazing number of places; perhaps too many. There was some free time in which we could set our schedule, but the toured parts had something of a rushed feeling to them. Again, I would say this is Go Ahead setting priorities as to what we should see; our tour guide really did a great job of passing on as much information as she could and keeping us on schedule. It would have been preferable, I think, to spend more time at a smaller number of places to see and not make the tour a test of how many sights we can visit in 10 days. Some attractions, such as the Hakone outdoor museum, for instance, really require that you spend several hours taking it in. And, to me, sights have a cultural context to absorb in order to appreciate it fully. It really helps to be able to watch a place for a while, see how it and the people who live and tour it interact with it. Sometimes, you could get a small bit of that, such as in watching people enjoy feeding [and being pestered by] the hundreds of deer at Nara that walk about freely while on your way to see the temple. Some of the Shinto shrines encompassed a large amount of open space within their walls which practically begged for at least some contemplation, and rushing through a Japanese garden sort of defeats the purpose of seeing it. It was a great experience; on the positive side for Go Ahead, the planning and execution of the trip went off without a hitch. Airplane flights, hotel reservations, buses, trains, meals, all were handled with a meticulous care and we had no delays or problems moving about the country whatsoever. Hats off to Go Ahead for that. And thanks again to our tour guide, Micky; when all is said and done, no matter how well planned and executed the trip may be as to its details, your pleasure in the tour ultimately rests on your guide's personality and hers was a pleasant company for those 10 days. It would be nice if Go Ahead sometime in the future would look into touring the other Japanese islands; Hokkaido looks beautifully rugged and from what I have read, Shikoku has its own set of charms.
Good tour, excursions slightly misleading
Overall, it was a good tour. 44 people with only 1 tour guide is too much. Certain people on a tour this large need more attention than the others from the tour guide. This makes it hard for the tour guide to get to everybody when needed. Miyuki (tour guide) did a great job with what she had to work with. The most wonderful dinner we had with the group was the first night's dinner in Osaka! Kyoto was an absolutely beautiful town, Mt Fuji was great, and Tokyo was immense! Not enough time in Tokyo. I think we needed another 2 days to do everything we wanted there. Hiroshima was the best optional excursion. The bullet train was amazing and Hiroshima was very touching. Some of the tour excursions are misleading: 1) Giesha Tour in Kyoto - We did not get to see a Geisha. We saw a "Geisha in training" show. Also, don't be fooled: Dinner was not in the Ginza District (where all the Geisha's are), it was a walk out of the beautiful area to a congested part of town. We would recommend foregoing this option and going to Ginza on your own instead. It was only a 15 minute walk from our hotel. 2) Tempura Dinner and Tea Ceremony - Please be advised that the Tempura is all seafood. If you do not like fried seafood, this optional excursion is not for you.
too many people
way too many people-restuarant quality went down to accommodate that many people!!!! originally 13 days went to 11. United airlines sucks!!! will never use them!!!!! overall i don't feel i got my moneys worth.