Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

My husband and I had an amazing trip to Japan put together by Scott Gilman. Scott clearly knows Japan and we had extraordinary experiences. The hotels, especially the villa we had, met all our expectations. We traveled with three young male relatives in their early to mid-20’s and they loved the trip as well. The private experiences Scott set up were extraordinary — we watched Sumo wrestlers practice, we had a private cooking class, we learned how sake was made (and tasted it!), we meditated with a Buddhist priest, and we had a drumming session that was, perhaps, the best experience of all. I can’t say enough about the restaurants Scott offered — the food was beyond. A special shout-out to the two guides who took us through Japan — so knowledgeable and so kind — they were part of our family by the end of the trip. John and I have traveled with specialists from The WOW List around the world and Scott is one of the best.

We, Jon Foley and my husband, Jeff Grinspoon, worked delightfully with Scott and Jason to create a highly curated and customized jaunt through Japan starting Oct 22, 2023, in Tokyo and working our way west and south through and to Shizouka, Kiso valley, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kagoansen, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka and the island of Yakushima before wrapping it all up back in Tokyo Nov. 9.

We were very excited about our itinerary but were very clear that we wanted flexibility as much as possible because you never know really what you love about a place until you get there, and Scott, Jason, and our (there is absolutely no hyperbole here) amazing, smart and hard-working guide, Sako, made so many wishes come true.

We are passionate about digging into how a people work, what do they grow and how, what do they produce that’s special to that region, how do they live and what is their world like? And Scott, Jason, and Sako opened numerous doors (often literally) for special experiences and unique exposure and insight.

We would and likely will work with them again—we need to head north next visit though our time on the southernmost island of Yakushima was paradise.

Sako almost nearly literally held our hands the entire trip and whatever few minor missteps there may have been were all readily remedied and most of the missteps were ours. For so many good reasons specific to Japan, having a great guide adds immense value from the practical (getting laundry done) to the magical (explaining the nuances and intracies of all what you are seeing).

Scott’s entire team is highly professional, but they get to know you very personally. They are responsible enough to push back if they think you’re trying to do too much and are great at explaining options to help you make the best choices for you and your travel group.

We’ve been traveling together for over 20 years and have great confidence in stating that Scott is one of the best planners we’ve ever worked with and assure anyone they are the best choice for a highly customized and high-quality experience in Japan.

We travelled to Japan with Scott’s office in late October/November 2023. From the planning to execution, we were extremely impressed with Scott and his team. We love to be actively involved in the planning of a trip, and Scott was very responsive to our requests and suggestions. He always replied to us promptly (often within minutes). We wanted to be a bit “off the beaten path” so Scott designed an itinerary that included not only Tokyo, Kanazawa, Takayama, and Kyoto, but Kamikochi National Park where we had an amazing day of hiking, Matsumoto in a beautiful ryokan, and a stay at the beautiful Aman resort in Ise Shima. His hotel/inn and restaurant recommendations were spot-on, and we ate some amazing food. We often had our room category upgraded, no doubt due to Scott’s relationship with the hotel. We have learned that the quality of a guide can make or break a trip. Our guide Tomo was wonderful—knowledgeable, kind, and fun. She went out of her way to understand our interests and show us the non-touristy side of the places that we visited.

The train network in Japan is great but some of the transfers can be intimidating (Tokyo Station at rush hour is an experience!). As part of their service, Scott’s office arranged for us to be met by their representative as we got off trains to guide us to our next transfer or accommodation, which made the travel completely stress-free. Scott and Tomo provided perfect suggestions for spending our time alone in Kyoto and Tokyo, which helped us plan our days without a guide. We highly recommend Scott and his team. Thank you for recommending them!

I worked with Scott to make my itinerary. He was fantastic and I highly recommend him. He is extremely knowledgable. He responded to my emails and phone calls immediately and fulfilled any request I had. All of the scheduling for rides, flights, trains and private meetings with individual artisans was seamless. The guides he uses accommodate all requests made that veered from the original itinerary. Highlights of the trip were private meetings with a chef, goldsmith, kimono artist and a painter/printmaker currently exhibiting in New York.

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