We had never been to Japan before and meeting Yuko at the train station was our first 'real' interaction with a Japanese National outside our hotel. I cannot express how grateful I am that I chose Yuko to be the first stop on our long tour through Japan. She showed up exactly as she said she would, took us first to an authentic Japanese confectionery shop on the way to her home - interpreting and guiding us through the options and helping us make choices while there. Then it was a quick walk through the Kemigawa area of Chiba, where I got to see first-hand how local people work and live in a town outside of Tokyo proper - it was an education! While walking we encountered her husband and two sons, which was a pleasant surprise. Upon arriving at her apartment we were guided gently through proper etiquette in a Japanese home and made to feel very welcome. We got to interact with her husband and sons more at the apartment and their warmth and interest was a very pleasant contrast to the cold indifference of Tokyo, which was all we had experienced up to that point. Yuko went over the process of putting on a Kimono and what to expect during the event - it was very clear and understandable. We knew exactly what was going to happen at all stages. Yuko and her friend (who came to help with the Kimono) were very pleasant and went to great lengths to make the process as stress-free as possible. Honestly, it was fun! Even my girlfriend, who was originally very nervous, quickly relaxed and enjoyed being 'dressed up' in her Kimono. Then it was off to the local shrine, for some photos and education (our first!) on what a shrine was and how to pray there. Back to her apartment, off with the Kimono and off on a quick walking tour of her hometown, stopping at local shops and looking at the few sakura that were just starting to come out. The tour ended, where it began, at the station, which honestly I couldn't have found if Yuko hadn't guided us there. My girlfriend and I spent the rest of the day talking about what a great experience we had and how Yuko had been very pleasant to work with. In fact, we still talk about parts of the tour today, and share our experience with our friends, months later. If you are looking for a 'hometown' kind of tour, simple yet elegant, away from the bright lights and bustle of Tokyo (but still very easy to get to), with people who are warm, pleasant, inviting and are genuinely interested in you....THIS is the tour for you. I give this my highest recommendation - and my girlfriend does too!
Dear Robert, Thank you for your kind message!! I am glad that you could enjoy this tour. And my husband, too. That pens and caps you gave me are very useful now. You and your girlfriend were so kind, so it was special experience for me. In addition, the kimono looked good on her! And her performing with kimono was so beautiful. If you visit Japan again, I'd like to meet you again. Best, Yuko