Travel agent for custom tour of Japan

Jul 30th, 2016, 07:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 14
Travel agent for custom tour of Japan

I would appreciate suggestions for a travel agent who might help set up a custom tour of Japan for our family of five. We are largely independent travelers but could use help with the itinerary, hotels, travel within Japan, restaurant reservations, etc. We would like to stay in fairly high end hotels (Hyatt, Conrad, etc.)
Thanks in advance.
ematthews6 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2016, 07:37 PM
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Are you in the US? The JNTO in Los Angeles has given me wonderful help over the years, and all for free. They take calls, and they quickly answer emails. You can put the trip together yourself, with their help. Tourists generally travel by train in Japan, so it's simply a matter of deciding which cities you want to see, and looking on the Hyperdia website for train schedules. Oh, and if you're going into the countryside, you can possibly rent a car, but there are lots of Avis and Hertz offices all over.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Jul 31st, 2016, 02:42 AM
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Try one of JTB Corp's authorized travel agents in USA that is near you. The website says they do standard tours and customized tours.
TEL 1-800-223-6104
Reading54 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2016, 08:07 AM
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We used a local agent in Japan who was a friend here on Fodors before she became a travel agent in Japan. She rented a Machiya House for us in Kanazawa, and she set up a Geisha performance for friends who traveled to Japan. You can reach her at

[email protected]

As with most local agents, she can get you better prices on hotels than you can get yourself.
Kathie is online now  
Jul 31st, 2016, 10:41 AM
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Thanks! I've been researching further -- Any further feedback on the Art of Travel? Or other agencies like Wabi-Sabi Japan? Explorient? Boutique Japan?
I'd ideally like a small, US-based travel agent that will create a luxury custom itinerary for my family. Thanks!
ematthews6 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2016, 12:13 PM
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Why do you want a US-bases agent? Do you yearn to pay more than you need to? Do you want agents who have never been to the places you want to go?

Kim is American, though she and her family have lived in Japan for years and she has permanent residency there. I give her my highest recommendation. She can arrange anything you want in Japan.

Several other regulars here have used her and all have thought she was stellar.
Kathie is online now  
Jul 31st, 2016, 02:33 PM
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Another recommendation for Kim!

Although for my upcoming trip I'm doing the whole thing myself, but I'm not looking for luxury.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 1st, 2016, 07:57 AM
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and yet a third fan of Kim (k.keefe).
she is a charming woman from new England, is widely travelled, and will give you fantastic assistance.
tell her you are a fodorite.
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 1st, 2016, 09:08 AM
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[email protected]

Kim is the perfect travel agent for your requests, trust me. We will be doing our 17th trip to Japan late next spring during Golden Week haha but don't recommend that time of year for you or any other first timer.

Kim also specializes in high end tours. I have used her advice and services in many of my trips to Japan. Fluent in Japanese and raised in the US she is the perfect match for you. You can also try the JNTO link that cali lady has left you or but Kim is your best bet really.....unless of course you want to hire me

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 5th, 2016, 02:45 PM
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ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 7th, 2016, 02:57 PM
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patandhank is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2016, 06:11 AM
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saving again
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 29th, 2018, 09:09 AM
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After saving this thread no less than three times, I'm finally thinking about traveling to Japan later this year, hopefully in November. (I never did make it to Vientiane, a trip I had asked about in another thread, so never did add on Japan as I had hoped).

I've been to Japan twice before, but both trips were in the 80s; one was a budget trip with a RailPass, and the other was a work trip during which I visited only Tokyo and Kyoto, staying in luxury hotels. I do not remember much of either apart from general impressions. My partner has never been to Asia, let alone Japan.

SO: I've long read about KimKeefe and remember her when she was a regular poster here. Would she be someone I should hook up with to plan my own trip, even if I will probably visit only those 2 cities, plus one other, much smaller, destination--maybe an onsen reosrt (??) I'd like some help with hotels and train/bus transfers, and selecting a third destination that would be fairly easy to access without complicated bus/train connections. (Direct train would be great). But on the agency website it mentions private tours and private drivers, and a figure of $1,000-$1500 per person per day. And I'm assuming that does not include meals. I don't want all of that,, just the hotels, ransport, and maybe a couple of days with a guide. Would this still be an agency I should consider?

It was Kim who turned me on to the perks of using Virtuoso to book luxury hotels, but I don't think her agency is a member. When I book with Virtuoso in the US or Europe, we get free breakfasts, and often upgrades to better rooms, and also late check-outs and usually a free lunch or dinner at the hotel. Wondering if I would get any perks from booking witih ArtOfTravel. Do they pass on any savings for the upscale hotels to the client?

On the subject of hotels, we'd like to experience one of the luxury towers in Tokyo, and I'd love one with a pool for lap swimming, as well as a convenient location which I guess means convenient to a main subway line. Being able to walk around someplace interesting from the hotel would be great.

I''ve marked down these and would really be appreciative if anyone could share experiences at the following, and comments about their locations.

Tokyo Palace

For reasons I have forgotten, I have the Cerulean Tokyu Tower in my "saved" column, too.

Once in Tokyo we want to do the average tourist things and want to experience some of the quirky stuff like the cat cafes and the CosPlay cafes, and also would love to see the streetwear styles (Do young people still congregate in Harajuku?) and look at fashion. Shopping for handcrafts would be interesting, although very expensive, as I already know.

Food is a principal interest but I don't think I will be seeking out any multi-starred Michelin restaurants with long tasting menus. We're both sort of past that and would prefer to visit solid restaurants that are great examples of various cooking/cuisine styles like yakitori, soba, sushi, tempura, and maybe kaiseki. I imagine the hotel concierge can help with that and later on, if I get this trip going, I will return to ask about specific places to eat.

Is Hakone too touristy to consider? With these onsen resorts, is there much to do if one does not want to spend lots of time in the baths? I'm not sure my partner would even be willing to do the strip and bathe, even if it's single sex. Am I crazy, then, to even go to a resort? I did this on Kyushu eons ago and really liked it for the novelty, but that water was burning hot!

Obviously I need to do some reading here, just wanted be pointed to a travel agent who can get some hotel perks and help me plan...many thannks!!!

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Apr 29th, 2018 at 09:17 AM.
ekscrunchy is offline  

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