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Qualification for these Japanese tours began in 1980 when Jerry was assigned to the US Embassy in Japan. He met Carol in a flea market (also called a shrine sale) in 1989 while she was on a tour to Japan. These markets provide opportunities to liberate wondrous treasures including: TEXTILES, DOLLS, ANTIQUES, OBI, WOMEN'S KIMONO, BOY'S DAY BANNERS, WEDDING KIMONO, CHILDREN'S KIMONO and BASKETS! Within a short time, they were married. Carol, having already lived for several months in Kyoto, adapted quickly to her new surroundings. While in Japan, they traveled extensively , led many tours with friends and those who came to Japan on business. Carol, as a member of the Tokyo-Washington Women's Club was selected to lead tours for their group where many of those on the tour were Japanese. Over time, we became experts in many areas including how to lead tours, how to get about, where & when to go along with expertise in everything from textiles to antiques. Upon return to the United States in January 1995, Carol gave many lectures on her life in Japan and shared her collection and expertise in Japanese textiles. Many requests from personal friends, attendees at Carol's lectures and students in Carol's classes led to our decision to lead our first Japan tour in November 1997. Since then we have led many additional tours. Some guests have gone more than once. Others are planning to go again.
Our tours sell out early. The 2006 tour was sold out 14 months prior to departure. The March 2008 trip was sold out 8 months prior to departure. The March 2009 trip was sold out 7 months prior to departure. Economic conditions in 2010 resulted in a low number of guests but the tour was set to go. Unfortunately, with but one day left before guests were heading to Japan for the pre-tour, we were confronted with the tsunami problem and had to cancel the tour. With non-refundable airline & train tickets plus hotel reservations, guests lost but $60. All were amazed and I repeat the loss was just sixty dollars!!! The March 2014 trip was sold out in July 2013.
The tours are limited to just 18 guests along with two well qualified guides. The minimum number is 10 where there will be just one guide. Please send an email indicating your interest in joining one of our tours. Since there is a limit of just 18 guests on each tour, we need to hear from you before these trips are sold out. Just drop an email to email@example.com.
Carol and Jerry Saber at Kinkakuji in Kyoto Kimono show in Kyoto Todaiji & feeding sacred deer in Nara
Jerry & daughter at Nijo Castle garden & gate in Kyoto Heian Shrine in Kyoto with children in their finest attire
|Arrive in Japan on 20 March with return on 3 April to enjoy the awesome display of cherry blossoms|
|Arrive in Japan on 20 November with return on 4 December to enjoy the spectacular display of maple leaves. Unfortunately, due to the state of our economy, the fall tour has not had sufficient guests for several years and will probably not be run again until the economy improves.|
BASIC PHILOSOPHY FOR THESE TOURS:
|small group so that all can enjoy and allow a wide range of options. We have a planned itinerary BUT you can modify it to add some special museum, garden or activity. In the past we have accommodated guest requests to learn Taiko, dress as a geisha, visit a special museum, spend the day at Disneyland.....a very long list where we do our best to assist with NO additional cost to the guest.|
|outstanding hotels that are perfectly located so you can unwind and enjoy at the end of each day|
|visit a wide range of venues with equal focus on gardens, museums, castles, architecture, photography, history, textiles, shopping, antiques and culture while having a great time|
|you can arrive earlier and/or stay longer where we provide extra information so your time is effectively used|
|tour is limited to a maximum of 20 including the two guides (about half that number if only one guide)|
|maximize the time for shopping/sightseeing by using the most efficient and economical means of transportation and not moving between hotels on a daily basis. This is what many call the multi-transport tour for we ride: the famous bullet train, local trains, subways, cable way, boats, barges, buses, taxis, switch-back train (rare indeed) and a tram. You can add a ride in a rickshaw.|
|keep guests having to move luggage except between their home and the first hotel in Kyoto and then from your airport to home. Note that no one has to move heavy luggage after arriving in Kyoto and we provide advice on getting from home to that first hotel.|
Deposit check of $500 will hold your space AND only be cashed when there are sufficient guests to GO AND we have your approval to cash that check. After that, the deposit is not refundable as it has already been spent to ensure we do not loose our outstanding hotel reservations.
Shopping at flea markets Our guest and daughter dyeing shibori at Aizenkobo in Kyoto
Painting on silk Weaving obi Jerry & daughter at Kiyomizudera in Kyoto Fall colors
Geisha, guest and daughter in Kyoto Carol, daughter & grand children at Heian Shrine in Kyoto
DETAILS: The tour price of $4,200 includes:
|full American breakfast each day - more than enough to last to dinner|
|top end, super deluxe hotels where each room is shared. We suggest you share the wonders of Japan with your spouse, significant other, relative, close friend, neighbor or church/club member. We have been very successful in matching singles where we do the introduction and the two parties determine compatibility issues.|
|guide services plus pre-trip planning information covering everything from what to bring to what to leave at home. We also provide a binder for guests to review all the places we will enjoy. In addition we are available to assist in planning any activity or place that is not in the planned itinerary|
|you can arrive early or stay on in Japan where assistance for planning what to do before the guide arrives and the tour officially begins or after the tour ends and the guide heads home. There is NO charge for this extra assistance.|
|full schedule each day, that is, you are not abandoned BUT you can elect to do something other than what is planned for that day. Having lived in Japan for over 14 years and returning frequently, we have been to all of the sites frequented by tourists as well as many others which are well off the tourist trail. Information we can provide is not only how to get there but when to go or not go for there is nothing more disappointing than arriving at that special place to discover it is closed that day.|
|additional cost for all in-country transportation, admissions and meals other than breakfast has been carefully calibrated by us and many of our guests at $1,300, a cost that depends on the conversion rate from dollars to yen|
|required is ability to walk for Japan is not handicap friendly and our tour requires walking which can be over uneven ground and climbing stairs where no elevators/escalators exist. if you need a walker, this is not the tour for you.|
|deposit is $500 which is refundable up until the check is cashed.|
|airline tickets should be acquired only after the tour has been declared a GO (need a minimum of ten). You can use air miles OR purchase your ticket from your travel agent or your airline of choice.|
|cost of the single supplement is outrageous due to the high quality of the hotels. It runs about $1,600 and will rise to $1,800!|
|the balance of the tour cost is due approximately four months prior to departure|
|our preferred entry point in Japan is the Kansai International Airport serving Osaka. There are several airlines that land there. We always choose the United flight from San Francisco where we spend the night before (18 March or 18 November) near the airport to ensure we do not miss that flight. The guides, residents of Texas, usually fly into San Francisco the night before the flight across the Pacific to Kansai International Airport (KIX), the airport that serves OSAKA. So, the guides arrive at SFO on the 18th of March or November, spend the night near the airport and leave the next day for Japan. You can join the guides or make your own way to the first hotel in Japan (Kyoto) where detailed instructions for getting through the airport and to the hotel are included in your package of itineraries (one for each day which includes maps, what you will see, how we will get there, etc).|
|we also offer a pre-tour where you arrive/spend the night in Kyoto on 16 March and the next three nights in Okayama returning to the same hotel in Kyoto on 20 March. During that time, you will have the opportunity to visit one of the best three gardens in Japan, the Black Crow Castle, Atom Bomb Museum and Peace Park in Hiroshima, the magical island of Miyajima, the old city of Kurashiki (great museums and shopping and architecture) plus the best &, all original castle in Japan including the charming garden next to the castle. You book your own hotel where we will help by advising alternatives (lower price and location). Acquisition of a Purchase Order that can be converted into a Rail Pass in Japan (available over the internet) will save some money and a lot of time when traveling. We charge NOTHING for a very detailed itinerary which includes maps. So the only extra cost for the pre-trip is actual cost of the hotels, purchase order for a Rail Pass, meals and admissions.|
Daughter & grand daughter at Outdoor Sculpture Museum in Hakone Our ride across lake
The Spectacular Miho Museum Toshogu Shrine in Nikko Mt Fuji from Hakone Nat Park
THE FOLLOWING IS A PARTIAL LIST OF WHERE WE WILL BE VISITING:
|KYOTO: two spectacular flea markets, Aizenkobo (indigo dying house), Fureaikan (craft/cultural center), Heian Shrine (garden), Nijo Castle (nightingale floors), Ryoanji (famous for its rock garden), Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Kiyomizudera (the water temple famous for its stages), Miho Museum (I.M. Pei's spectacular creation), walk through the Gion area and Geisha District, Nishijin & Yuzen Textile Centers, Ninnaji (garden), Nara (imperial capital prior to when it was capital was relocated to Kyoto) to visit Todaiji (largest wooden building in world) & Kasuga Taisha (famous for its sacred deer and many lanterns), Byodoin (oldest wooden building in world), Fushimi Inari (famous for having many vermilion tori gates)|
|HAKONE NATIONAL PARK: ride the bullet train to stay in hot springs hotel with spectacular garden that was opened over 130 years ago; travel through park on ropeway, boat, switch-back train, bus & tram; visit Outdoor Sculpture Museum (unbelievable sculpture plus building full of art by Picasso plus three other art filled buildings in a spectacular garden setting) plus the Lalique Museum and/or Hakone Glass Forest.|
|TOKYO: Asakusa (spectacular temple with shopping arcades that is not to be missed), Nikko to visit Toshogu Shrine (dedicated to first great shogun), Tsukiji Fish Market, more flea markets, Kamakura (imperial capital for 200 years) to visit Great Buddha & Hasedera (hydrangea temple) & Zeniarai Benten (money washing temple), Nippori Textile Town, Asakura Choso Museum (home/studio of famous sculptor), Tokyo-Edo Museum (unbelievable architecture and outstanding contents), Omotesando (fabulous shop plus designer stores), Meiji Shrine, Asakusa (temple & shopping), Kiyosumi (garden), walk through old section of city with interesting shops and a basket maker (time permitting), Hamarikyu (imperial garden), river cruise, Museum of Itchiku Kubota, Edo-Tokyo Outdoor Architectural Museum, Nihon Minkaen (garden full of historic homes), Oragami Museum and sayonara dinner. You can easily substitute (we will help) any of the planned itineary to enjoy something of special interest like the military museum at Yasukuni Shrine.|
Aizenkobo Heian Shrine - Kyoto Great Buddha Shopping Mall in Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market
Father and son at Himeji Castle Some of our guests on tour
CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE FOR MORE PICTURES
MEMORIES FROM SPRING 2010 TOUR
MEMORIES FROM SPRING 2013 TOUR
MEMORIES FROM SPRING 2014 Tour
We have shared this adventure with many guests where the youngest was 9 years old and the oldest was...well, a very senior citizen. Our plan is to walk a little and ride a little allowing folks to rest and not be run to death. We also love cruising with idea of unpacking once and not moving about dragging heavy luggage. We have incorporated this into our tour. Guests on previous tours have met with friends, gone off on their own, used our tour to lead their families through the same adventure, arrived early, stayed later, gone to a different venue/place as they have already "been there - done that", used air miles to make their own travel arrangements ......the bottom line is that we are flexible and have but one desire which is to share our knowledge with others.
IF you are interested, we need to hear from you before we are sold out. Just drop me an email CONTACT US. In the meantime, please enjoy some photos from previous trips and TESTIMONIALS from previous guests.
Please enjoy photos from our SPRING 2009 TOUR TO JAPAN which was absolutely fabulous.
Desire to do your own tour but need a helping hand (what to see, where to go, how to get there, when that special place is open/closed, how much you can fit into one day, etc), we are available to assist where our consulting fee begins at $150.
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