Answers & travel advice from an expert for Japan guided or digital tours & travel

Answers & advice from a Japan destination and travel expert (since 1990).

Dragonfly doorway noren textile closeup and noren are featured in our private tours in spring and summerWhat is private travel & how is it different? Answer: Quality private travel is really a process that is defined by two things: 1) Itinerary planning & design customized to the client's needs and preferences. 2) Execution of the itinerary and travel plan that the client has approved by a licensed, trained bilingual local guide.

What private travel services does Your Japan Private Tours offer? Answer: We provide standard custom travel services and unique Digital Travel Services. Custom travel services include personalized | tailor-made Japan tour & city day tour itineraries, hotel | ryokan | minshuku reservations, airport transfers & meet and greet, restaurant reservations, ticket reservations (sumo, theater, bullet train, domestic air, ferry and bus, modern entertainment venues), and specialized requests from our clients. Digital Travel Services include digital or self-guided Japan tour and day tour | day trip itineraries, Digital A to B transfers, Digital Restaurant Services (Reservation + Digital A to B transfer).

How much advance notice do you (YJPT) need to organize a tour or day tour?

Answer: For guided tours in off season a week is usually sufficient. For self-guided digital tours allow for at least 48 hours advance notice. In peak season (April and November) in Kyoto, booking a guide can be really difficult and sometimes all we can offer is digital guidance. Hotel reservations in Kyoto in April, early May, late October and November, are almost impossible if you don't book a few months in advance. Sometimes it is necessary to stay in Osaka, Kobe or Otsu. Please inquire and we will do the best we can.

Why use a travel planner at all? Why not just hire the guide directly?

Answer: A Japanese guide with a license often does not understand the needs or preferences of the client. Many guides just take people to the most famous and popular places. Many clients are trying to avoid superficial experiences. They want something special. Many guides can't think out of the box and are not creative or flexible. It is true you can save money by working with a guide directly but you may find the experience you get is disappointing in any of a number of ways.

Why are expenses usually not included in private travel or private tour services like YJPT?

Answer: Expenses vary greatly with the client's preferences and budget. A wealthy family will usually want a van + driver. Some clients want leisurely more expensive lunch experiences. Other clients want to walk as much as possible and eat somewhere authentic, inexpensive and not waste too much time on lunch. If you really want to understand the expenses on a full day tour then you have to consider these things from what the client expects: transportation (private or public or a taxi ride or two or taxis all day long); lunch (fast and inexpensive versus not so fast and more expensive).

What other expenses are there?

Answer: In addition to transportation costs and lunch (including those of the guide), there are entry fees to temples (US$3-$5 usually) and museums (if any). Entry to Shinto shrines is always free of charge!

Can local tour guides drive and guide?

Answer: No, a Japanese licensed tour guide is not permitted to guide and drive. So if you want a private van or car to travel around in, you will also have to hire the driver. Generally, each hour of private transport (mini van or sedan) is priced around US$70/hour + parking + toll road fees (where relevant).

What time does a full day private tour start and where do we meet the guide?

Answer: The client decides when they want to begin. Generally for a full day or morning tour the start time is between 9:00 and 10:00 (earlier if you are going to morning fish or food markets). In the end, the client decides the start time based on their travel style. The guide always picks the client up at their hotel or ryokan at the appointed time. But if you and your family or small group are taking a day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo, then the guide usually meets you on the bullet train platform as you step off the shinkansen.

Tips & tipping in Japan: Are we expected to tip the guide?

Answer: No, tipping is very uncommon even rare in Japan. If you really had a special time with your guide and I mean really special then a tip of Yen 3,000 is a nice way of showing appreciation. If you can, put the money in a blank white envelope or wrap it in a piece of copy paper.

Planning international trips is a time-intensive process and getting it right depends, in the end, on what you know and who you know. Your Japan Private Tours (YJPT) founder and owner, Ian Ropke, has been providing high-level Japan travel consulting services to individuals, families, groups and companies since 1990. Everyone is special at YJPT and we look forward to advising and helping you plan a great itinerary for your trip and connecting you with friendly reliable English speaking guides anywhere in Japan. We work with English as a second language speakers from anywhere in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this little overview. When you are ready let me know how I can make your trip to Japan interesting, fun and relaxing from start to finish. The more you tell me about your preferences and interests the better the design.

If you don’t want to be with a local Tokyo tour guide every day or just want to save money but still be in control don’t forget our very popular self-guided or digital tours.. Self-guided tours, ideal for independent travelers of any kind, are all customized to your individual or group needs and designed for good time flow, flexibility, and ease of travel. Digital tours are a great way to see and experience Tokyo or Mount Fuji or Kamakura on your own. They are also great for traveling to remote areas of Japan. With these smart, compact PDFs (downloaded to your smartphone), complete with maps, historical and cultural summaries, you can see and do a lot on a flexible tour schedule, and save between 58% and 76% compared with our private guided day and city tour rates.

If your trip is longer and multi-city then our 5-7 day, 7-10 day, 10-14 day tour packages anywhere in Japan offer great value for your 2017 or 2018 holiday in Japan. These smart packages combine guided tour days and self-guided day tours. All our Premium and First Class Japan tour packages are totally flexible and include free restaurant reservations and 24-7 support. Our Japan holiday tour packages are all personalized and professionally planned by our Japan travel specialist. Every package includes days with our friendly licensed bilingual local tour guides and detailed digital guidance (PDF format) for buying train tickets, exact train schedules, bilingual taxi instructions, walking maps and cultural summaries. Please inquire to book or if you have any questions or special needs or requests (wheelchair travelers are no problem at all!).

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Tokyo Private Tours: Check out our Tokyo highlight tours and other custom one day tours in Tokyo. Great itineraries for great tour days in and around metropolitan Tokyo. Day Trips & Tours from Tokyo: Custom day tours and day trips to Mount Fuji | Lake Kawaguchi | Hakone, Kamakura and Nikko. Let us know how we can get your trip started today!

Kyoto Private Tours: Our Kyoto highlight tours and other unique one day adventures in and around Kyoto are ideal for seeing the best without any stress at all! Day Trips & Tours from Kyoto: Custom day trips from Kyoto include the older Imperial capital of Nara, Shiga and the Miho Museum, Himeji | Kurashiki, the Tango Peninsula, and Hiroshima. Let us know how you would like to do Kyoto today!

Osaka Private Tours: Our Osaka private tours are a great way to learn about Osaka's unique culture, famous for food and bright color fun day and night. Day Trips & Tours from Osaka: There are so many places an hour from Osaka including Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji | Kurashiki. All of these custom day trips or tours can be part of your Osaka vacation or trip. Let us know how we can help today!

Beyond Tokyo and Kyoto & off-the-beaten track destinations: We offer guided private tours in all of Japan's popular tourist centers, and digital self-guided tours anywhere in Japan. Off-the-beaten-track tours of Japan are one of our specialties. All our tours can be tailored to your specific interests. Please inquire.

Tours are subject to guide availability (especially in April, August and November). Booking earlier than later is always recommended (our cancellation policy is very clear). Payment by wire transfer and | or cash depending on each client’s situation. Email us today to learn more!

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For quality Japan tours & unique vacation experiences contact us today!

  • Tel: +1 415-230-0579 USA
  • Tel: +81 (0)50-5534-4372 Japan
  • Fax: +81 (0)​75-320-2793
  • Postal address: 115-8 Jodoji Nishidacho, Sakyoku, Kyoto 6068417, Japan
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