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Traveled extensively, but never before Japan! Help!

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We are a retired couple, who have enjoyed the luxury of traveling extensively over the past decade---mainly in Europe, South America, and Australia/New Zealand.

Next spring, we are booked to depart Tokyo on a trans-Pacific Silversea cruise to Vancouver, via Russia and Alaska. We would like to spend 7-10 days in Japan beforehand, but we find the prospect more unsettling than when we travel to “western” countries---

Language---most of the travel world where we’ve been speaks English, and we can manage French and Italian, a bit of Spanish, and can decipher signs in German or even Greek. BUT, are there added difficulties in Japan??

Safety---obviously, one has to be wary in any crowded city situation, but, alert and cautious, we like to wander and explore on foot, in cities and in villages and in the countryside. How does Japan safety compare to other advanced, civilized countries?

Train travel---we would like to leave our main luggage at a hotel in Tokyo, and explore by train with light luggage for a week or so. Safe, convenient, and easy to understand??

Suggestions on where to go???---we enjoy being physically active, exploring, and observing life as it is now, or perhaps hints of how it was. We prefer countryside, smaller communities and villages…..or cities with “old-town” character in spots. Museums, historic sites/monuments, temples, etc. are not as interesting. (We prefer a day walking the hills of Cinque Terre to a day of tours of the Duomo or Pitti Palace in Florence; we’d rather a pubic footpath in the Cotswold’s to a tour of Westminster Abbey; we’d rather get lost in the streets of Paris than spend the afternoon at the Louvre.)

Any comments or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

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