Japan private tours and expert guidance focused on the best of Kyoto, Tokyo and everywhere in between: personalized itineraries designed by a Japan travel expert

Expert destination travel planning and services all over Japan!

YJPT: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$

Private guided and digitally guided day tours & experiences anywhere in Japan. Customized itineraries designed by experts & OKed by you. Fast, reliable, and less $$$. Let us know how we can make your trip to Tokyo or Kyoto or anywhere else better in so many ways!

Dragonfly doorway noren textile closeup and noren are featured in our private tours in spring and summerPlanning international trips is a time-intensive process and getting it right depends, in the end, on what you know and who you know that is fluent in your destination culture. Your Japan Private Tours (YJPT) founder and owner, Ian Ropke, has been providing high-level travel services to individuals, families, groups and corporations since 1992. We do a lot of work with families from California, Australia and Singapore. Ian loves helping clients discover what they didn't know and assisting clients that know exactly what they want. 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 guides on the ground.

“I work closely with my clients and generally all communication, even on the ground, is handled, for the most part, personally by me (email, FB messengers, Skype, Google Voice, wechat…). In addition to our popular day / night tour designs (both guided and in digital format) I also create new day / night / extended tours when the client wants to do something completely off-the-beaten-track or just something you jut have to do or have in Tokyo or Kyoto or . . . ” — Ian Ropke

Our tours and experiences are stylized and customized to suit you!

We like to work closely with our clients before they arrive in Japan and then when they come to Japan and begin their adventure. The itineraries and particulars of your trip are worked out online and by phone with Ian. Your tour guide is then given a copy of the itinerary and the final questions are answered.

Ian's planning and culturally aware tour designs save you time. And they are completely customized and adjusted to your needs, hopes and dreams . . .

“Never forget that culture, in a way, is everything! A great many Japanese tour guides memorized what they had to study to get their license and have little international experience. Culture matters and with our products and services you will see that we have thought of who you are we designing our itineraries. Plan your trip with Ian, an international travel expert who understands the importance of culture . . .”

And you don't have to be with a guide all the time. With our always popular digital PDF smartphone format easy DGT tours (@ Yen 15,000/full day for 6pax) you can go anywhere without a guide and still feel in control. Each DGT includes blocks of English (or Spanish or Chinese) followed by easy-to-understand blocks of perfectly translated Japanese translation below. For example: "Please take us to Kurama Temple" or "Could you please point me in the direction of the washroom please" or "I don't know how to use this ticket machine. Could you please help us to get tickets for Takayama". Our DGTs are ideal for morning special spot picnics or evening city safaris . . .

Save time and have a better time in Japan on your next trip by using just a little of what we offer… Imagine the way you want to travel and experience Japan and then tell us how we make your trip easier and better.

Our most popular Tokyo area private guided tour destinations & activities

Here are a few of our most popular guided tour designs in and around Tokyo. These same itineraries are also available in DGT PDF format (@Yen 15,000/full day/group, not including expenses).

  1. Old/New Tokyo Full Day Tour: Tsukiji fish and wholesale market, a choice of two 17th-century Japanese garden estates, a ride up the Sumida River, the bustling spiritual tourism of old Asakusa temple town (lunch here), followed by an exploration of Nezu Shrine, the serene Yanaka district, ending the day in contemporary, fashionable Harajuku, Aoyama Omotesando zone in the mid afternoon: Yen 45,000/6pax not including expenses or NIE.
  2. Hakone Old/New Tour:Hakone, the traditional hot spring resort next to Mount Fuji, and less than an hour from downtown Tokyo, is great for a day tour or for an overnight in the exclusive ryokan inns of Hakone. Our itineraries for Hakone include side trips to two world-class contemporary museum complexes and stone Buddhas off the beaten track: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  3. Kamakura Amazing Gems Tour: This relaxing day-trip to seaside Kamakura is very popular. It includes 13th-century Zen architecture and culture, an incredible cave shrine devoted to the Goddess of the Arts, a temple bamboo garden forest, Asia's #2 bronze Buddha(12th cent.); lunch in a garden estate with views of Mount Fuji on a clear day. Can be adapted to bicycling in the second half of the tour: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  4. Izu Peninsula Countryside Wonder Wander: The Izu Peninsula, a relaxing 30-min shinkansen bullet train ride from Tokyo Sta, offers scenic rugged coastline drives, tranquil countryside hikes overlooking the sea (2-4 hours), and unforgettable off the beaten track gems and locations: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  5. Shinto Ways & Stays: A day of experiencing the sophistication of Japan's powerful and mysterious Shinto religion in the city and beyond, including day trips to sacred highly focused Shinto sites in and around Tokyo and Kyoto especially: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  6. Tokyo Garden & Customized Shopping Combo Tour: Tokyo has an incredible range of 17th century gardens and former samurai estates. These have been selected for this tour to dovetail with high value contemporary shopping and/or edgy hipster neighborhoods: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  7. Tokyo Foodie Food Market Day or Night Urban Safaris: Japan gets top top grades for food old and new and I love designing days and nights of 1920s old lively veg and meat market zones combined with street food where ever possible, mochi green tea and secret spot high-value luxury stops. The choices are all yours: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE.
  8. Tokyo Early Morning (Spiritual) and Night Safaris (Profane): Yen 31,000/6pax NIE; 4 hours.

Our most popular Kyoto area private guided tour destinations & activities

Here are a few of our most popular guided tour designs in and around Tokyo. These same itineraries are also available in DGT PDF format (@Yen 15,000/full day/group, not including expenses).

See Kyoto's traditional and modern culture on Kyoto private tours I have an almost endless range of itineraries for Kyoto and day trips through the area around it. Kyoto entertains (often just for the day, but all the same) 50 million Japanese visitors a year and then another 2-3 million foreign tourists every year! Many of my day tour itineraries for Kyoto City are made to avoid crowds and still see the best the city has to offer, often with interesting side area explorations around high-value locations such as Arashiyama, the Golden or Silver Pavilion or the Path of Philosophy. During a stay in Kyoto many international tourists / travelers visit Nara for the day and bullet train to Hiroshima and back. For those with more time the options are nearly endless.

  1. The Jewels of Kyoto's East Side:Our most popular Kyoto tour takes you along the Higashiyama east side of Kyoto using back lanes and includes the Silver Pavilion, Nanzenji Temple, Chion Temple, Kiyomizu Temple, as well as a blend of little hidden Shinto shrines, high end pilgrimage route and craft/gift shopping sections: Yen 45,000/6pax not including expenses or NIE for 8 hours.
  2. The Fascinations of Northwest and West Kyoto: 9:00-17:00: This fascinating stroll and mostly public overground tram route leads from an exquisite 15th century Zen complex to a large 9th century shrine and a tea break in 400-year-plus outdoor shop setting followed by an optional stop at the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) followed by a 3-hour section including lunch on the west side of the city (Arashiyama/Saga district); here, you will stroll through a beautiful bamboo forest, visit famous temple gardens, see thatch roofed farm houses and walk through very old residential and shopping areas. This tour can be configured to include traditional shopping (antiques, textiles) at the end of the day: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours.
  3. Nara Park Perfections After Horyuji Buddhist Beginnings: 9:00-17:00: Nara is 30-min rid from Kyoto on a super-fast private train or 45-min. away for those carrying a Japan Rail Pass; this tour usually begins with a visit to the oldest wooden buildings in the world at Horyu-ji Temple (Japan's first large Buddhist temple/monastery), including the temple's excellent museum; you would then finish the day in the timeless environs of Nara Park home to over 1,400 years of temple and shrine culture and herds of deer; highlights include Kofukuji Temple, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine at sunset, and Old Nara Town: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours.
  4. Miyako Shopping Craft Safaris: Too many options to list; please inquire: Yen 31,000/6pax NIE for 4 hours to 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours.
  5. The Northern Edge of Kyoto Moss Garden Countryside Tour: This special multi-faceted 4-6 hour tour across the northern edge of Kyoto includes: pristine rice field countryside villages, 9th century temples and vegetable/craft/foodie shopping experiences ending with a hike through the hills and an onsen hotspring break and then there is more… great day if all you want is to get away: Yen 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours.
  6. Mount Hiei Esoteric Buddhism Adventure Tour: Mount Hiei stands directly NE of downtown Kyoto and functions to guard the city. Enrakuji Temple (late 9th century) on the peak of Mount Hiei is the temple that influenced Kyoto between the 9th and 12th centuries: temples of incredible importance and value in a huge forested temple mountain setting; monkeys; art; great views of Kyoto and Lake Biwa to the east, Japan's biggest freshwater lake:Yen 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours.
  7. Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine & Gion Night Walk: Enter the vast sacred precinct of this world famous shrine via a secret back forest walk and then through tunnels of orange torii gates, past amazing stonework and countless votive shrines to a spectacular view of the city way down below; the tour ends with a two-hour back lane stroll through the exotic geisha/maiko worlds of the Gion district: Yen 31,000/6pax NIE for 4 hours.
  8. Off the beaten path Kyoto Secret Spot Picnic morning, full day and half day tours: An eclectic selection of top-value areas/locations not mentioned in most guide books; old, living neighborhoods, serene scenes that offer the quintessential Japan experiences we all hope for; secret spots; stunning gardens and views over the city; despite the off-the-beaten track nature of this tour you will never be very far from the city's most famous areas and you will not waste time getting from zone to zone; lots of strolling; lots of serendipitous exploration and relaxation. Please inquire (Yen 31,000/6pax NIE for 4 hours - 45,000/6pax NIE for 8 hours).

Japan-wide off the beaten track guided day tours and Digital PDF format smartphone tours and more . . .

Our off-the-beaten-track tours, nearly always digital PDF smartphone format easy tours can put you in some pretty amazing places. There are so many great destinations in and around Tokyo, Takeyama, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima: country villages, modern private museums estates, great hiking routes and so much more . . . If you have already been to Japan before or have something really special in mind then you have come to the right place. Contact us today and tell us know how we can make your trip to Japan really special.

Kyoto Peak Season Realities:Kyoto gets over 50 million visitors a year, 98% domestic tourists, and this means that peak season can be a bit of challenge. Most high-value venues are over-crowded and using a bus / train / taxi is often just not a good idea. We have special "gem" off-the-beaten-track tours designed for these situations. These spots are not far, quiet, and very beautiful. And you have them, more or less, all to yourself! We offer 5 self-guided gem tour itineraries in and around Kyoto and another 5 or so in Tokyo. These destinations are special and you won't find them in most guide books. And they are just around the corner and easy to get to with our PDF-format Japanese/English guidance. Please inquire.

We love guiding people out of the cities to the wonders of countryside Japan where natural attractions abound in traditional settings amid lush mountains or along spectacular coastlines. In recent years, we have "guided" clients to the Tango Peninsula, the Izu Peninsula, along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, and to the exotic edges of Okinawa and Hokkaido. In 2005 we guided a father and son from one end of Japan to the other including scuba diving stops, hikes in isolated national parks and interludes at unheard of hot spring towns. They had a fantastic time and did it all with just a little help from us. Let us do the same for your next Japan trip.

YJPT Founder & Owner Ian Ropke has worked in the Japan private travel industry for more than 25 years

Ian Ropke (Canadian) has worked in the Japan private travel industry for more than 25 years and is also an expert in global tourism including community tourism. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Kyoto Visitor's Guide from 1994 to 2009 and is the author of Historical Dictionary of Osaka and Kyoto (available on Amazon). He is also founder and chief development officer at tripGaea Inc, headquartered in Silicon Beach, Los Angeles . . . Get your trip started today! Call Ian and start planning!