What are escorted custom tours?
Our simple philosophy is to share with our guests the aspects, sights and experiences of Japan that we love. To achieve that, we created Japan Custom Tours to help you experience the uniqueness of the country without many of the hurdles that separate the average tourist from the rich experiences that are available.
The core functions that we do are:
Working with you to design a schedule that includes the things you want to do and see while in Japan. Most of the effort for your tour is done prior to your arrival.
We organise your accommodation using our knowledge of Japanese hotels and ryokan across the country, finding properties that suit our guests, good locations and superior options based on our first-hand experience to ensure suitable locations, service and comfort.
We organise tickets for things like the Japan rail pass. For special events or restaurant bookings we book ahead, especially for high demand events. While we cannot guarantee tickets, we will do our best, especially for popular events.
We travel with you, providing continuity from when you arrive in Japan until you leave. We provide assistance to you for the duration of your trip, both during the sightseeing part of the day and often with many behind-the-scenes details to help you trip run smoothly.
While every group and guest is different there are some common themes that emerge that we help most people with. Typical examples of what we do, we:
Getting from A to B. We are skilled at managing people and their luggage on the excellent train network and because we cover a lot of the country, know how to get you (and your luggage) easily from a Tokyo rush-hour to a small mountain village with the minimum of fuss.
We also know the best transport options to get between different sites, using taxis or trains (as the default), and less common the bus network (because we know you did not come to Japan to spend an hour waiting for a bus in Kyoto, or getting stuck in traffic in Tokyo).
Standing in queues to purchase tickets allowing you to actually be a tourist during your trip.
Meeting you at the airport, and take you back again. Transfers are an important part of our service and introducing you to how Japan works with a low stress hotel transfer after a long flight.
Finding meal options that suit you, and that can include ordering or recommending different dishes.
And providing information on different aspects of culture, history, etiquette and any other questions that you might have, both for the sights that we visit or on general.
One way to illustrate our approach to Japan is to view a JCT tour through the eyes of our guests. For one of our customised trips (in May 2017) we were fortunate to have a keen people that made a video diary of their journey across their three week trip. They kindly provided a copy and you can view a copy by clicking on one of the two following icons.
Benefits to you
Your accommodation is pre-booked and pre-paid - no worrying about exchange rates
Someone else is responsible for getting you from A to B (and back again)
You can relax while the challenging and tedious things are handled for you (standing in queues for tickets, ordering in restaurants, making tricky purchases etc)
You get more time to do what you want to do, enjoying Japan.
Our pricing is based on JPY295,000 per person per week. For longer duration like a two week tour, the price would be based on JPY590,000 per person.
That price includes good quality accommodation (averaging 4-5* and we do not book the cheapest or lowest quality rooms), transfers, trains, taxis, most entrance fees and our tour fees. These make up the bulk of the costs we incur providing your tour.
For ryokan (Japanese inn) accommodation that may include dinner as well as breakfast.. For our trips that include Nagano/Togura, we like to include geisha entertainment one night as part of the dinner experience (for groups of four or more).
Generally we do not include lunch and dinner meals because Japan has a huge range of foods and our guests have widely different options from a simple $10 lunch to a $100+ wagyu steak dinner. We prefer not to restrict options especially when food is a significant part of many people?s experiences in Japan.
The other exclusions would be things like special events/performances (sports, theatre, theme parks - those kind of things). . Where sensible we include breakfast with the hotels (and dinner at some ryokan). Entrance fees for castles/temples/shrines are also included, but special events like theme parks, sumo or kabuki are not.
Our aim is to provide value for money. We do charge a fee for our planning service and day-to-day role of hosting/guiding you and ensuring you have a great, hassle-free holiday. We do work hard to make our tour prices as low as practical, by seeing discounts on accommodation and travel, meaning a customised and hosted tour can be significantly cheaper than comparable organised tours. Our tour prices are, however, not the lowest you can get for a holiday package, but are comparable to some of our larger competitors. But, we do guarantee departures, do not stick you and 40 other people on a bus, or fill your trip with "free day at you leisure" that other companies charge for.
What expenses will I have while in Japan?
You will need to cover the costs of all food and drink, taxi fares, shopping and other incidentals. It is possible to spend a lot or a little on meals in Japan so there is flexibility within your budget. Buses and local trains/subways are inexpensive and are a way to save a substantial amount of money compared to taking taxis everywhere if you are budget-minded. An allowance of Y50,000 per week per person should allow you to eat and drink well with few constraints.
For many of these minor costs it is easier to pay for the group as a whole and keep tabs on spending for each guest (for things like entrance fees and subways). For group meals it can be more difficult running separate accounts so either do a simple split or a more detailed breakdown as suits the group, and then settle the balance each day or two.