Tour Title: Japan Express
Tour Company: G Adventures
Tour Leader: Tetsuji (Ted) Watanabe
Cities Visited: Osaka, Koyasan (Mt Koya), Hiroshima, Kyoto, Hakone (Mt Fuji), Tokyo
Dates: 7 May to 15 May 2015 (Duration 9 days)
This tour is listed as one of G Adventures Classic tours. In short the hotels you stay at will be good to very good, there will be some included activities but also a bit of free time for optional activities recommendation by the Tour Leader and/or the Tour Leader will help organisation events you want to do.
This tour had 15 tour members which is the maximum; Aoife Smyth, Alex Schembri, Andrea Pyatt, Maximilian Pyatt, Nicole Hedley, Wai-Yee Phuah, France’s Evans, Ashley Rowes, Claire Roberts, Vivienne Mahon, Paul Tripp, Catherine Scott, Helen Heath, Alexander Taplin.
Stay in a temple on Mt Koya, Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum visit, Miyajima Island excursion, Nijo Castle visit, Kinaku-ji Golden Pavilion visit, Daisen-in Temple and Zen garden visit, Mt Owakudani cable car ride (cancelled to volcanic activity), Lake Ashino-ko boat ride, Traditional ryokan stay with kaiseki meal, and Japan Rail (JR) pass (7-day).
Our Tour Leader offered optional activities in every location except Osaka and optional group meals at Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo. The main optional activities I undertook were;
- Ceremony Night Walk with local monk at Koyasan (1,200 Yen)
- Tea Ceremony at Kyoto (2,000 Yen)
- Ninja Show at Kyoto (3,200 Yen)
- Karaoke at Hakone (1,000 Yen)
- Robot Show at Tokyo (6,000 Yen)
I used approximately $500 AUD or 50,000 Yen for food and optional activities during the nine days. The 7 day JR Rail Pass saves a lot of money and on the last offical day of the tour covered the travel back to the airport on the Narita Express.
The Amazing Mt Fuji
The hotels and temple stay were all around 4 star level. Wifi was available in rooms at all locations other than Hakone which was available at reception. A traditional diner and breakfast was included at Hakone and Koyasan. Hotels were; Osaka Namba Washington Hotel, Ekoin Temple , Hotel New Hiroden, Ibis Styles Kyoto Station, Pax Yoshino (Ryokan), and Shibuya Tokyu Inn.
Tetsuji (Ted) Watanabe is an experienced Chief Experiemce Officer (CEO) or Tour Leader with G Adventures and other companies. ted was a very funny guy and went out of his way to ensure everyone was happy, this included organising a surprise birthday cake for Nicole, everyone’s post tour train trips to the airport and the large number of excellent optional events.
The express trip is just that express and packed with events everyday so you need energy. We actually walked over 20,000 on four days with the Miyajima Island excursion around 26,000 due to hiking down the mountain. A major highlight was seeing Mt Fuji, having traditional Japanese meals sitting on the floor, karaoke, the Ninja Show, the Robot Show, sleeping in a temple, the night ceremony walk with the thousand lanterns in Koyasan. Really a lot of other things I could have listed. Japan compares to Australia for the cost of things, the people are polite and the temples and shrines we visited are amazing, particular the Golden Temple.
Daily Journal Entries
Tradition Tea Ceremony at Kyoto