In November and December 2017, my wife and I visited Japan for the second time. It was a long journey that from Tokyo took us to the island of Yakushima after visiting the Japanese alps, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Shikoku the third largest island of the country.
The trip was organised by Mari Nozu of Luxury Travel Japan whom we contacted several months before departure. Mari patiently replied to all our messages proposing solutions to the many requests and wishes we continuously made her.
We are experienced travellers and know how difficult is to match our requests. Despite that, Mari was able to design a splendid tour, from transportation (train, car with driver when necessary, internal flights etc), to local guides in more remote areas where English is not commonly spoken, hotel accommodation and suggestions of less known places to visit and to photograph (photography is our second main activity). The plan included many days of “free time” that added more challenges to the design.
In the 30 or so days spent in Japan we had no hiccups or problems of any kind. Everything was just perfect.
In one occasion, due to a bad cold, we were forced to change plans.
It only needed an e-mail message to Mari and a couple of phone calls to her and et voila things were solved and new arrangements made in less than 2 hours.
If you are thinking of visiting Japan, Mari with her travel agency is the person to contact.
Mari – I loved my trip!!! Thanks so much for your hard work!!!
(San Francisco, CA)
I am so blessed to have found Mari’s services via her website out of the vast number of agencies offering package tours of Japan. I am a lawyer and former assistant film editor and this fall I gave myself the gift of a solo trip to Japan. In order to fulfill a life long dream, my desire was to have an expert design a personalized “grand tour” of Japan (in the 18th century sense of the term). Mari was responsive from my very first inquiry email. From our follow-up phone conversation I got a clear sense that this woman could make my dream trip a reality within the constraints of my chosen budget.
Because Mari was so organized and gave me such a clear sense of process along with many opportunities to give feedback on the plans, I felt safe in investing my money and dream itinerary in her hands. I am beyond thrilled that I made that decision. Mari was keen to get my input. I gave Mari a list of disparate things that I knew and liked about Japanese culture – some very specific things like the films of Akira Kurosawa and the architecture of Tadao Ando and then some very general concepts like “Aikido” and “Zen aesthetics”.
I highlighted very specific buildings I wanted to see and very general impressions I wanted to take in and Mari diligently crafted a plan that touched on every single concept, thought, emotion, feeling and expression that I wanted to experience. Moreover, her plan included enough space for new things and experiences that I had little previous exposure to but came to love. One such example is that I had a Koto lesson by a master teacher and then I got to play a traditional piece on Koto while Mari accompanied me on Shamisen…and that was just in the first few days of my 17-day itinerary!
Her attention to detail and ability to regulate frank feedback all through the journey was incredible. Mari organized an ambitious schedule and brought me in contact with local guides who are as clever, informed, thoughtful and fun as she is.
I learned that she coordinated a discussion group between the guides and herself and, as a group, they always made sure I was giving feedback to Mari and the other guides so I could get what I needed in each future place on the agenda. For instance, the later guides learned from earlier reports that I rarely wanted to slow down for lunch because I was so eager to see and experience as much as humanly possible in a given day. They started preparing for that by showing up with snacks for us, “barbecuing” in a beautiful mountain-side hot-spring or finding just the right tako-yaki stall to stop at for some nutrients and local flavor while on the go from place to place.
So, although I was a solo-traveler, I felt as if I was in the care of a long-lost cousin in each town I encountered: Tokyo, Hakone, Matsumoto, Hida-Takayama, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Kumano-Kodo, Himeji, Okayama, Naoshima Island, Osaka and the beautiful places in between.
I am very grateful to Mari and all the guides for their hard-work and “hustle” on my behalf. My grand tour of central Japan was more than just a vacation: every day was a masterpiece — a living work of art.
I intend to enlist Mari and her team to do it again in the future!
Tamaron Greene -San Francisco, CA
Filmmaker (Los Angeles)
My trip to Tokyo was unforgettable and Mari Nozu from Japan Luxury Travel did a fantastic job with a real personal touch.
I came to Tokyo for work to promote a film, so my schedule was tight, but Mari was very accommodating and flexible with her planning, and even accompanied me to one of my interviews.
I wanted to see both the traditional and modern sides of Tokyo, and Mari made sure I got to experience the rich and diverse nature of this unique city – from the beautiful historic temple of Sensoji in Asakusa and the fascinating Kabuki drama at Kabukiza in Ginza, to the chaotic Tsukiji fish market and the architectural showcase of Omotesando.
Mari and her team at Japan Luxury Travel were very attentive to my personal interests and tastes.
When I told them I was interested in Manga, they took me to Comic Zin and Mandarake in Akihabara to shop, and then to personally meet one of Japan’s premiere Manga artists, where Mari facilitated and translated our conversation over coffee.
While I got to experience some of Tokyo’s fine dining, I also wanted to eat like a local, and Mari took me to some amazing places – from Yatai’s (street food stalls) to a hipster bar serving Nabe, and to Tsukishima to have some okonomiyaki.
Even though my schedule was limited, my time with Mari never felt rushed. The tours felt relaxed, and we somehow always found the time to stop for a bite or a drink, check out a trendy art gallery or explore a cool store.
This sort of attitude and service; both professional and fun, knowledgeable and friendly, and always accommodating, is what makes Japan Luxury Travel stand out.
Thank you Mari and the rest of the team for a wonderful time.
Visiting Tokyo was a unique experience, I have travel all around the world and thanks to Mari my experience was unforgettable!!
Eva Castillo (London)
A part from visiting the traditional Monuments and the modern parts of Japan, Mari took me to a rehearsal of the traditional Japanese instruments Koto and Shamisen, where I could listen and I could play all the instruments and see how the work. I was the only guest invited to the rehearsal and all the musicians were there for me, they explained and let me play their instruments.
Another unique experience was to try on a traditional Japanese Kimono. I could see how beautiful and delicate the fabrics were. It was impressive to see the amount of fabric and work it is carried out in just one single Kimono.
Mari took me to eat local Japanese food, I loved the fact that I was able to eat what Japanese people eat. I couldn’t have done it without Mari. We went to different bars, pubs and restaurants, traditional and modern.
I also tried traditional local food in Yamanashi prefecture, Hoto Udon in a beautiful trip to Mt Fuji. Mari took me to the fifth station of the Mount Fuji and the views were breath taking. On the way we stopped on road stalls and different shops which were very interesting.
Mari made my trip unique and adaptable to all my needs.
Dear Madam Mari Nozu San,
I am very happy to say that you have planned for us a wonderful trip to OSAKA & KYOTO. Your service was excellent. We stayed in Magnificent Ryokan and the food was excellent too. Honestly I could learn interesting history of the region, we had a wonderful time. I will recommend Luxury Travel Japan to my friends, planning to travel Japan.
With Best Regards
Preekshat Bhasin from Delhi
Sterling Tours (San Diego, CA)
I heard one update from the client and that was on how much they loved their guide and how well she trained them on using the subway system! They were very happy.
Thanks for your attention to detail and taking care of my clients.
I am going to actively promote Japan now that I have found a reliable/great contact/company to work with. I will be in touch soon as I need to work on a new plan for my clients traveling all over Japan.
Kind regards, Michael Lee
Stephanie & Family
We just got back to Singapore! Thank you so much for arranging this family trip for us. My family and I really had a great time. Our trip was great, except the alpine route ice wall was already melting away but nonetheless it was really beautiful.
The ryokans were beautiful and enjoyable to stay at. Their services was good and dinner and breakfast
The guides was really good too. We really appreciate it.
Hopefully we will get to explore other parts of japan soon! Thank you again for all the arrangements. The logistics are really top notch.
Stephanie & Family
(San Francisco, CA)
I wanted to follow up after our visit to Japan in April.
While we certainly had a frustrating experience checking into the ryokan, I appreciate you being available quickly on a Sunday to resolve issues. Your availability on the phone, even though we had never talked, was such a welcome
Thank you for taking care of us and although it was a difficult situation, I would recommend your company to assist any friends traveling to Japan in the future.