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Q&A: Is a Tour Group in Japan Boring?

Yes. Very boring.

And no, not boring at all.

It depends on what you mean by “tour group”. If you go online and look at many of the tours to Japan that run from Tokyo to Kyoto for one week or ten days (which is the standard), you will see a lot of great things for sure. There is a value in the tour group in that you do not have to worry much about anything. The guide will gather the group in the hotel, after you’ve enjoyed the buffet, get you on the bus and then off you go to the various temples and shrines and gardens and shopping areas. You may see some trees and nature and hills and eat new food. I think that a tour group is perfectly fine, and it fits a lot of people’s needs. What’s wrong with that?

But for someone who wants to be alone, go at their own pace, discover the smaller things here and there, take time for photography or just standing still, a tour group is ill-advised. Some people are not made for group travel, hate sitting in a tour bus, despise pleasant chit-chat with virtual strangers, and just want to have their own singular experience.

For my personality, I like both. I will talk with anyone I meet on a bus or train. But I also like to be alone as well sometimes. Everyone is different.

But there is an idea that a tour group means pre-packaged, unchangeable, uninspired shuttling around of people from one place to another following a guide in a bright yellow or pink outfit, with matching hat, waving a flag for the customers to follow. That does exist, and there is a place in our universe for that service and those clients. From my point of view, that is perfectly fine. Not my cup of tea exactly, but it’s okay.

Connecting with a travel designer, like us, that creates group tours with guides, is different. Completely different. With our clients we introduce a way of travel that is not “bucket list” or “check list” or “laundry list”. Travel as art. Travel as “being”. Travel as a living breathing experience is not a “list” of any sort.

The travel groups that we design are narrative based with thematic qualities. Our travel itineraries resemble cinema and our clients are participants in their own story. Against the backdrop of history, legend, folklore, artistic expression both ancient and modern, and with the ebb and flow of Japanese sensibilities rooted in culture and social structure, our clients are very much “inside” the tour, rather than spectators to it.

We create group tours with guides because the context and culture of Japanese exploratory tourism requires it. We connect our clients with experts and storytellers, artists and protectors of Japan’s vanishing cultural heritage. Without guides, our guests would also just be “spectators”. With guides, they are taken by the hand and invited to the table, to the kitchen, to the workshop, to the hammer and anvil, to the potter’s wheel, to the ceremony, and to the conversation. So, yes. A guide is necessary.

So, to get back to the question, “Is a Japanese Tour Group Boring?”, it really depends.

“Is food delicious?” It depends who is cooking.

We put on a pretty good meal. Contact us at and let’s talk about how you and your people can have the adventure of a lifetime.

Basic Level: Japan Tour Leader
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