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Sukiya Living October Kyoto tour

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alan baucom:
I was asked by a fellow volunteer at the Portland Japanese Gardens to comment about the recent Sukiya Living (JOJG) tour I participated in this October. The tour was extremely well coordinated and comprehensive. Visits were not just restricted to gardens in Kyoto, Nara, and Ohara, but to many related places as well. Those included a Sake brewery, professional gardening business, the home of a world-known calligraphy artist, the home and shop of one of twelve remaining calligraphy ink makers, tatami makers shop, and a warehouse that sells all kinds of bamboo. All ground transportation needed for the tour was included, hotel accomodations (PalaceSide Hotel), 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and neighborhood shopping needs and subway and financial instructions were fully covered. The list of other activities is too long to cover here. The time and energy devoted to the tour by our guides, Douglas Roth and Tomeo Goda, was evident in the seamless movement from one daily event to the next. Douglas' and Tomeo's contacts have been at a very personal level. That provided access to private homes and gardens, as well as institutional sites not normally open to the public. A gem of a tour. Alan

Healeyjet:
Thanks for taking the time to write to us Alan.  I was the one who asked about the tour.  Did you feel that you spent enough time in each garden or was it rushed?  What was the age range of the attendees?  Did everyone go their separate ways on the day off?  Did you arrange your own flights and was their any pitfalls to be aware of?
Ward

alan baucom:
The tour was listed as a walking tour, and that was certainly the case. One needs to be in reasonably good shape to maintain the pace.  At least one person had some physical restrictions on how fast she could go up stairs and inclines due to medication, but everyone on the tour made sure she was able to stay within sight of the group. The pace was, at times, brisk, but not rushed. Attention to the schedule was required, but if anyone were to become separated from the group, each of us had a daily itinerary in english plus japanese to show to a taxi driver if necessary to meet at the next stop. Ages on this tour were from 30's to 70's. On our free days, some people linked up to travel together, but not all. Most used one of the two free days to visit the Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa which most Japanese citizens never get to visit but foriegners do (there is a lottery for citizens). The other day, some of us went to the Miho Museum. Airline reservations were the responsibility of each person, but needed to have the arrival at Osaka's KIX airport on the same day. The tour price included a one night stay at the Nikko Hotel at the Kansai Airport before going to Kyoto the next day. By staying until Octber 27 after the tour, the return airline fare dropped over $600 which paid for the 5 extra hotel days plus food, so it pays to check fare prices when planning the trip. Bought a Japanese Railway train pass in the U.S. (not available in Japan) for day trips from Kyoto (Hiroshima, Tokyo, and other) after the tour...money well spent.

Healeyjet:
Alan, thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions.  How many people were on the tour?  Does Doug help with suggestions on how to accomplish things ( like staying the extra days and the rail pass)?
Ward

alan baucom:
Ward

There were 14 people on the tour, and I believe a full tour would be no more than 15.   Free day and post tour activities are up to the individual.  A good travel agent familiar with Japan should be able to get the info you need.  I have not had the chance to do much foreign traveling until this year, so let an experienced friend handle the details. Pay a little extra for legroom on the plane (coach-plus), it was worth it.

We used Sankie Travel of Americas, www.sankeitravel.com, Seattle, 1-800-801-4069

Did I post all this to the wrong area of the website (Forum as opposed to Travel Resourses)?

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