Please note that we do not offer customized tours. Our guides, of course, are flexible and can make reasonable modifications to the tours based on your wishes, comfort and desired walking pace. This is the virtue of a fully private tour like the ones we offer. Taxis or public transport can be used to limit the amount of walking necessary. However, we ask that you discuss any modifications with your guide upon meeting (ie, rather than in advance by email). Please keep in mind that not all requests can be met; our guide will let you know what is possible given the time frame and group size etc. Finally, please understand that we can only answer a certain number of questions in the process of booking of a tour. General questions about Japan and requests for assistance with travel arrangements fall under the heading of our consulting services.
If you are emailing about consulting or trip planning, please include your travel dates and some information about what kind of trip you’d like to plan in your email.
Please note that, due to time constraints, I cannot reply to casual queries about Japan. See Consulting & Trip Planning for information about the consulting services I offer.
Please note that I have only a limited number of guides. Thus, I recommend booking as far ahead as possible, especially during April (the cherry blossom season) and November (the fall foliage season).
Finally, please note that we do not normally reply to emails on Saturday or Sunday, Japan time. However, for consulting clients who are in-country, we can be reached by the telephone number that we give to our consulting clients.
This is the cost of the entire group, not the per-person cost (ie, this is the guide fee for your entire group). Payment is in cash at the conclusion of the tour or by credit card in advance of the tour (we can set up credit card billing). If you choose to pay in cash, please note that we only accept yen cash. Transport to and from the tour and during the tours, drinks and snacks along the way, and temple/garden/entrance fees are not included in this price (these costs are usually minimal).
We ask that you cover all of the guide’s expenses during the tour. This includes the guide’s lunch (for six-hour or eight-hour tours) and transport during the tour (but not before or after the tour). Guides do not have to pay admission at most tourist sites. Thus, the guide’s expenses are usually minimal and the guide can help you choose the most economical lunch and transport options if this is a concern.
Up to six people can join a tour for the standard price. However, we ask that you do not add members to your group without informing us in advance. The guide reserves the right to cancel the tour if unexpected members arrive without prior notification. We can normally take up to 10 people on a tour, but there is a surcharge per person for each person over six.
Your guide will be happy to make some changes to the walking tour routes on the day of the tour.
Off-Season Multiple Booking Discount
If you book more than three tours of any duration in any of our cities (for example, one Tokyo tour, one Kyoto tour and one Nara tour; or three Kyoto tours; or any other permutation), during the months of January, February, July or August, we will give you a 10% discount off the normal price of the tours. Note that in order to qualify for this discount, we require payment in full in advance via PayPal.
Full Trip Planning
We charge ¥15,000 (about US$140/€120) per hour for our full trip planning services. Payment can be made via PayPal. A two-hour deposit is charged at the start of the consultation. Please note that we only accept a limited number of consultations at any one time in order to insure that each guest receives our full attention. Thus, we strongly suggest contacting us as early as possible about a consultation.
We charge ¥14,000 (about US$132/€112) per hour for our phone/Skype consulting services. Payment is in advance via PayPal. Half-hour (¥7,000), 45-minute (¥10,500) and 1-hour consultations are possible. After the consultation, I will send you a brief email giving you links to the things we discussed (ryokans, hotels, place names, useful web pages etc). After this, however, I will not be able to reply to follow-up emails/questions without incurring another consulting fee calculated at the above rates.
Meeting Your Guide
Because you may meet your guide in a crowded hotel lobby or other public space, we use a discreet system to help you recognize your guide: Your guide, whether male or female, will wear a blue or green scarf with a bird pattern on it over his/her shoulder, bag or in his/her hand. Here is a picture of the pattern: