Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We watched hundreds of people from many neighborhoods celebrate and dance with their shrines
Andy Kaplan | July 9, 2023

Our family of 6 (mom, dad, and four 20-something kids) recently got home from a 16-day trip in Japan created by Jason. Jason helped us shape a trip that worked well for our family and really took into account our interests and preferences. We went through many iterations of our itinerary until the pacing and the sites made us all happy.

We started in Tokyo with our guide Narumi, who stayed with us for the whole trip. Our guide met us the first day and suggested we go “off itinerary” for a special local event – the Kanda Myojin Shrine Parade – and we watched hundreds of people from many neighborhoods celebrate and dance with their shrines. We also saw all the major sites and also had a few special and memorable experiences – our favorites in and near Tokyo were a cooking class at the home of a chef with an amazing history, visiting a sword maker, and a sake (actually nihon shu) tasting class. For the rest of our trip we had fun finding and ordering sakes of different types.

We next visited Kanazawa to see several UNESCO World Heritage sites that were beautiful and interesting and stayed in a fantastic onsen ryokan that gave us a taste of hot-spring bathing and provided more of a Japanese feeling than traditional western hotels.

In Kyoto, we visited temples – some with amazing views, a bamboo forest, a building housing 1000 Buddha statues from the 1200s, and some terrific shrines. We had a Taiko drum class – a real hoot for the whole family – and had a moving and relaxing Zen Buddhism experience. We saw many gorgeous meditative gardens where we could have spent hours. Our daughter also found a “Pig Café” (think “Cat Café” but with little pigs) which was…different and fun.

En route to Kyoto, one of our kids left a phone on the train and our guide did a great job of working the (impressive) Japanese systems for finding and reclaiming lost items – far, far different than it would have been in the U.S. And yes, we got it back three days later before leaving the area.

The deer in Nara are really cute (but carefully, one bit me in the butt – no damage done) and we spoke with a group of schoolchildren that wanted to practice their English.

We specifically requested a stop in Hiroshima, which we found particularly moving and profound and such a testament to the evil of nuclear weapons and resilience of the Japanese people. A local specialty, an Okonomiyaki dinner, was a real treat – never had anything like it.

Another favorite location was Naoshima, which was completely Jason’s suggestion. We’d never heard of it. We’ve told several friends about “the art islands” since we’ve been back. We could have easily spent an extra day or two, and the art and experience was truly memorable.

Jason created a logical circuit for us to follow and included bonus stops along the way to make our longer travel days easier. He was very helpful at identifying “must-see” sites and helped us fill, but not over fill, our days. Narumi our guide was knowledgeable and lovely. She was our private tour guide and kept track of the details and managed our time such that the trains, planes, automobiles, restaurants, activities, reservations, tickets, etc. were nearly invisible to us. Even with all we had scheduled, she sometimes suggested a change in a daily itinerary if there was a special local event, weather concerns, or a newly discovered activity we wanted to add.

Thank you to Narumi, Jason, and the entire team for a wonderful Japan trip.

Able to arrange unique experiences for us that would have otherwise been impossible
Alex Strogen | June 19, 2023

Our trip to Japan in June of 2023 was an absolutely incredible journey. Scott Gilman arranged an itinerary for us that exceeded our expectations. Our guide, Mimi-san, was phenomenal and made our time in Tokyo and Kyoto exceptionally rewarding with her deep knowledge of the culture and customs of Japan. Scott and his team were able to arrange unique experiences for us that would have otherwise been impossible to manage on our own. The thoroughness and attention to detail with which his office managed our trip left nothing to chance, and everything from the transportation to dinner reservations was executed perfectly. Thank you for making this journey such a memorable one.

This trip exceeded my wildest imagination due in great part to Scott's magnificent knowledge and love of Japan
Roseanne Horn | June 13, 2023

I recently returned from an extraordinary trip to Japan, planned by the extraordinary Scott. I traveled with a dear friend. We were meant to go two years ago, but like everyone else, our trip was delayed until this past May. Planning a trip to Japan can be overwhelming. As I delved into my research, there were so many areas and experiences that I wanted to indulge in, but how to choose for a two-week trip? Scott helped me tremendously here. The way Scott describes a place or experience is so evocative and rich, you can almost imagine it in your mind. After telling him of my interests, he helped shape the trip that would become truly special and specifically designed to what I was looking for in my first visit to Japan.

I wanted a mix of urban and rural life, so Scott made a number of recommendations that would fulfill my desires. Besides vibrant Tokyo and Kyoto, we included a trip thru the Japanese Alps, thru the Kiso Valley and its enchanting post towns and fairytale villages untouched by time, to the charming towns of Takayama and Kanazawa. The trip was topped off with a two-day stay in the beautiful Hakone. What made our trip particularly memorable was our choice in traveling with the same guide throughout our 13-day trip. Scott’s expertise has led him to believe that this is an essential element of the trip. I can’t express how incredible it was to have Makiko with us the entire duration of the trip, immersing us in her knowledge of Japan, whether it be a historic site with great significance or a stunning garden laid out based on age-old tradition.

Makiko was the most knowledgeable and compassionate guide, and truly became our cherished friend by the end of the trip.

And the WOW Moment! Made even more special by the happy coincidence of Scott being in Kyoto for business. So he was able to join us at the incredible multi-course dinner at the Michelin-star French/Japanese restaurant, Motoi, a beautifully atmospheric restaurant with divine food, made extra-special by the talented chef visiting us at our table.

It can’t be helped when waiting two years, that you build up expectations based on what you read and by Scott’s insights. This trip exceeded my wildest imagination due in great part to Scott’s magnificent knowledge and love of Japan and our incredible guide, Makiko.

I feel so fortunate to have found Scott, thru Wendy. It would never have been the same without him. A truly priceless experience.

We met 5th-generation kimono silk artists, indigo dyers and gold leaf artisans, plus a gallery owner who is an authority on artisanal pottery
Diane Stone | May 30, 2023

I worked with Scott Gilman to plan our itinerary. After 2 COVID postponements we finally went on this trip to Japan. It was amazing! All the logistics were flawlessly executed. Because Ian, the man I have lived with for 35 years, is a furniture designer and maker, with Scott’s help meetings were set up with Japanese “makers” as well as an architect who took us on a tour through Tokyo’s incredible streetscape. These meetings were phenomenal. We met 5th-generation kimono silk artists, indigo dyers and gold leaf artisans, plus a gallery owner who is an authority on artisanal pottery. We visited the museums, temples, shrines and quaint historic areas that deepened our connection to Japanese culture. Scott even made reservations for us for wonderful and authentic dinners. We had two excellent guides, Grace and Miho, each for half the trip and they quickly became our Japanese friends. Our drivers were terrific as well. Working with Scott was an absolute pleasure and I would enthusiastically recommend his office to anyone wanting to take a spectacular trip to the amazing country that is Japan.

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