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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Taking a Tour in Japan

My first time in Japan I was a study abroad student living there for 6 weeks. I was going to school, blending with society, and taking in the culture. It was an experience I will never forget. Jump four years. I was going to Japan with my husband for our honeymoon. It was my second time in Japan and his first. The closest my husband ever came to experiencing Japan were from stories I've told him and things I've taught him about the culture. My husband's parents wanted to gift our honeymoon to us and the easiest way to do that was for them to pay for an all expense paid tour in Japan. I wanted to just roam around myself, but I decided to go with the tour for the first week and stay after for another week on our own. Best decision I've ever made.

I will be talking about the pros and cons of going on a tour in Japan. It had it's good and bad times but I still enjoyed it. And it may seem like it's super expensive but for everything you pay for it's not that bad, so you should give it a try or at least look into.

The Pros

1. No worries. With a guided tour there are literally no worries. Yes, they can get expensive, but everything is practically taken care of for you. These tour packages include meals, hotel costs, entrance fees to attractions, and possibly train fare. The only things you will need to worry about are the plane flights and shopping expenses.

2. Important sights. You are guaranteed a chance to go to the big name places such as Tokyo Tower and Osaka Castle in a guided tour. Depending on the package you get, you'll go to different cities in Japan and you'll go to all the well known sights for that area. The tour guide will even give you hints at what to take pictures of and will let you know what's important.
Tokyo Tower. We went in but I took more video than pictures.
3. Won't feel lost. Going to a different country can be a bit scary, especially if it has its own language and it's your first time there. With unfamiliar settings it can be easy to get lost. In a tour, you will have a guide who is native to that country to pretty much take care of you. The guide will make sure you're on the bus to go to the next city, make sure you eat, and will always make sure you're following. I personally loved my tour guide from Japan Tours. Her name was Mire. If I ever took another tour from that same company I would ask for Mire again. She was so funny and sweet.

4. Meeting people from around the world. One of the things that worried me was being so young and going on a tour. I always pictured tours to be for older adults, no one my age. I was totally wrong. There were quite a few people my age on the exact same tour. One young man was by himself, just wanted to see Japan. There were two young adults who were with their families on this tour for a family vacation to Japan.  There was a girl and guy on the tour that was my husband and I's age who were just on the tour because they both wanted to see Japan. My husband and I ended up hanging with them here and there during the tour. We'd go browse stores or go get food together. Even the older people that were on the tour were super friendly! There was a couple from Australia that I had fun talking to and was always nice. So not only did I get the relax while traveling in Japan but I got to meet so many amazing people at the same time.
We made friends on the trip from California!

The Cons

1. Not enough free time. Going on a tour in Japan can be good but then when you're actually on the tour you realize it's not all perfect. Yes, the itinerary is great and you get to see so many amazing things but while you're on the tour you find other things you want to do but there's no time for. A good example is when my tour was in Tokyo. You were literally touring all day, from 8 A.M. to about 6 P.M. During the tour we were at a mall for lunch. Our tour guide said we had only 30 minutes to look around before lunch. That was the fastest 30 minutes. My husband and I were having fun at an arcade in the mall and just looking at all the stores they had. We nearly missed lunch. Not only that! At the mall there was this Sega Vocaloid amusement park that looked like so much fun. We never got to check it out because we only stayed at the mall for lunch, then left. We had the rest of the day to go back if we wanted or to just check out more of the city but by the time you were done the tour for the day and got back to the hotel you were so tired. There was no way I could have made it some nights out after the tour without collapsing.

2. Having to eat what's on the itinerary. When I'm in Japan, I'm usually more adventurous and will try about anything I feel I can stomach. I say this because I'm really picky when it comes to food and here at my home of New Orleans, Louisiana I will have no problem saying I'm not eating something if I don't like it. I try not to be this way in Japan because it's an experience you can't get anywhere else and it's rude not to eat what's served to you. I did really good during the tour and at every meal except for one. I remember one of our hotel stops was at a Ryokan which is a traditional Japanese Inn. I knew what came with staying here: sleeping on a futon, going to take an onsen or hot spring bath, and eating Kaiseki (traditional Japanese cuisine). The only thing optional about the Ryokan was the bath. I had to go into the dinning hall with all the other people on my tour and eat a kaiseki dinner. I really thought I could do it but once the meal was in front of me I didn't have it in me to eat it all. I think I only ate two or three things and then I pawned the rest of my food for to a fellow tour member in secret. My husband and I didn't even eat breakfast there since we knew we'd be getting the same thing so we just went to the 7/11 at the corner for breakfast.

3. Being on a schedule. If you are someone who is laid back and doesn't like to have things planned then you will not like tours. With tours, everything is planned: meals, activities, and where to go. Everything is done in a timely manner and on a schedule. If you also like to wake up late a tour is also not for you. During tours, you wake up early. Not only because they include breakfast in the tour but to also start the tour early so you can fit in as much as possible during the day. You must be a punctual person to like tours. If the tour guide says meet here in 30 minutes you better be there in 30 minutes. If she says wake up and be on the bus for 8 A. M. you better be down there at 8 A.M. This can make the trip stressful at times but they mean well.

Well, those are my thoughts on taking a tour in Japan. In all, I had a great time when I went. It felt very different from when I was a student in Japan because I was living in Japan whereas with a tour I really felt like a tourist and enjoyed being there as a tourist. Thanks for reading about my experience! I hope this helps in making your decision on how you will enjoy Japan.

If you'd like more information on the tour I went on, here's the link: http://www.alljapantours.com/go-tour.php?tp=GTP0721986
I really recommend this company because they take good care of you.

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