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Japan in the Rick Steves style

Been a while since I've seen postings about Japan. Any recent experiences on which to recommend a tour company in Japan that does things in the style of the Rick Steves tours? Browsing prior posts and exploring websites, I'm particularly interested in any experiences with Samurai Tours. Thanks!

Posted by
59 posts

I’m not sure what you consider recent experience, but we went on a Samurai Tour three years ago and liked it very much. We’ve also been on one Rick Steves tour in Europe and would consider it similar in style. We were on the Best of Kyoto and Beyond tour which bases out of a single hotel, with the guides meeting the group at the hotel every morning. There were six in our group, but the group sizes vary. I’m an educator, so we were there in early July in the HOT season. Not a popular time to visit Kyoto (the frying pan of Japan is what my Japanese daughter-in-law calls it). We loved, loved, loved our main guide. He sometimes took us to little, out of the way favorite spots of his. While we often took public transit, which was a great experience, they did order shared taxis for our group a couple of days because of the heat. Very well organized, good communication. We saw and learned a lot. Very good, traditional, but diverse meals were included. The only weak point for me was the hotel which was just adequate in my view, but we really didn’t spend much time there. Good value for the money. Some other tours that I looked at were quite expensive. There are reviews for each tour, including mine, on the website.

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7703 posts

We are independent travelers but felt we should book a tour for Japan. We went with Odysseys Unlimited and they did an excellent job providing us with many unique experiences. Their itinerary included more places than other tours we’d looked at. Guide was excellent. There was one short bus ride from Tokyo to Hakone but otherwise all traveling was on the excellent Japanese trains.We won’t do bus tours. Luggage was shipped ahead.
We added the extension to Hiroshima which I highly recommend. We arrived two days ahead of the tour and added on three more nights in Kyoto at the end. We took train to and from Kyoto, to Tokyo and Narita. All easy. We booked our own flights.
We will return to Japan and will do it on our own as we now know how to use the fabulous train system. Our favorite place was Takayama.