Japan customer reviews

We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family trip to Japan.

Japan customer reviews - Tokyo with kids

Exploring neon-lit Tokyo

Healy Family (with two children aged 10 & 13)

Travelled December 2023
Thanks, we had a great time. The pace was very good. Key points: the Hilton Hotel was very nice, with great views, good lounge at the top, very spacious. Transfers were very upmarket. Ninja café was great fun – I highly recommend that. The Samurai Sword experience was out of this world and I believe much better than others in Kyoto.  We used a 130-year-old Katana, in a 250-year-old Samurai House, had amazing performances, did Zen meditation. Really very exceptional. Our house in Kyoto was fab – kids loved it as really traditional. The tea ceremony was great as well. Very happy with the two guides. Many thanks.

Gallianos Family (with two children aged 13)

Travelled September 2023
Dear Kelly. Many thanks for reaching out to us. We did indeed have a wonderful time and are grateful for the many unforgettable memories we are left with. I’d particularly like to thank you for the active and helpful support in planning out the itinerary but also the proactive communication following the unexpected cancellation and the flexibility with the replanning that followed as well as the assistance with the last-minute changes we requested. The journey itself was remarkably well organised from the first moment to the very end and thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you!

Perez Family (with children aged 12 and 16)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hello!! We arrived on Saturday with no problem whatsoever, the connection worked perfectly and even had 10 minutes or more to spare… only in Japan!! Everything worked perfectly and, as overwhelming as it was at the beginning, once you are there everything is super easy although you need to be pretty much very aware all the time, particularly around the stations … super crazy!!! I wouldn’t change anything and all is about taste or preference. We didn’t like Tokyo at all but the apartment location was great, very close to a lovely market which it was a great introduction to Japan. Love the suitcase transport from one hotel to the other, we used it all the time!! Everything was perfect, the accommodation, and information guide absolutely brilliant!!! became my holy book during the entire trip. Really, truly gorgeous experience. 

Warrack Family (with teens aged 16 and 18)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Liddy. Good to hear from you. We had a wonderful trip – entirely down to your super organisation and well-thought-through itinerary. We all loved Japan; the people, culture and landscape & really enjoyed the varied locations that we visited. Although the travelling felt quite non-stop, it enabled us to see a lot in a short time and, after getting our heads around the logistics, we got into the swing of the efficient bullet trains and underground system. Our highlights were Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto and we could really have done with longer in all of those places.

The tour guides in Tokyo and Kyoto were particularly good; friendly, knowledgeable & really bent over backwards to help us get the most out of our visit. Mikki spent a few hours on our second day in Tokyo getting our train trips organised and it really got us prepared and confident to stick to the itinerary.

Top of the list of things we did were: TeamLabs Planets & Tokyo Skytree. We also found a pop-up Studio Ghibli exhibition which was really interesting for the boys. Surprisingly, we all enjoyed the Nakasendo trail in the rain. It’s such a beautiful route. Although a lot of the lower section of the trail towards Tsumago was closed due to landslips and we had to walk on the road for about a mile – which wasn’t great.

My favourite place was Kyoto – we had a wonderful guide for a day and really enjoyed the mix of temples and restaurants. We found an amazing basement place run by a husband/wife team that seated about 10 people and offered an incredible tasting menu which they cooked in front of you.  We didn’t go to Nara as we were enjoying Kyoto so much.  

We also left Hiroshima early on Sunday morning to give us more time in Osaka. Hiroshima was understandably quite heavy going and we were keen to end our last day in Osaka on more of a high. We did get to the Memorial Museum in Hiroshima and it was harrowing, to say the least. It would definitely be worth warning families with young children that its a very graphic/disturbing experience – although the city is worth visiting and has a vibrant food scene.

We loved the supporting documentation you provided – particularly the ‘Best of Japan’ overview which became our hand bible for the trip! 

We felt safe, well-fed, culturally enriched throughout our whole trip. Thanks for your superb organisation & we all can’t wait to return to Japan!

Boase Family (with children aged 10, 12 and 14)

Travelled Summer 2023
Dear Liddy. We are home safe and had a wonderful trip thank you! Our particular highlights included using the Onsen in various places we stayed, the ninja lesson, the tea ceremony, the sea kayaking, and the cookery course.  The children have come home with wonderful memories and some real insights into life in a very different culture. The accommodation choices were excellent – in location, accommodation and food.  It was nice to have some variety and all the bookings went smoothly. Likewise, the travel arrangements were well organised and went smoothly. The day after the typhoon was travel chaos and quite stressful on the Shinkansen but that was just how it was.  Overall it was a really superb trip and we are very grateful to your team and your in-country colleagues for a brilliant holiday!

Bowdrey Family

Travelled Summer 2023
Dear Molly. The trip was completely incredible! Can’t thank you both enough – I’d be delighted to talk to you. I can make some time tomorrow between other meetings if that helps. Thank you again and very best wishes.

Rawcliffe Family (with teens aged 13 and 15)

Travelled Easter 2023
Hi Kelly. We had a fantastic trip thank you. It was pretty full-on, very glad we removed one of the items from the itinerary as it was quite packed! All of the information packs were very helpful, no issues and we loved all the accommodation. Thanks again for all the hard work you and your team put into making this trip, finally, happen!

Dodard Family (with children aged 8, 10 and 12)

Travelled Christmas/New Year 2019/20
Hi Kelly – It was absolutely brilliant and SO different from any holiday we have ever had!  I am going to start an online travel diary as soon as I have time and will gladly forward the link to you guys so that you can have a detailed read, look at pictures and have detailed feedback on everything. The only « downside » was the typical Japanese breakfast in Hakone – the kids really hated it and I was not a fan either – but it was interesting and typical (and the kids survived, no harm done). We discovered an interesting restaurant in Osaka. Tiny, and the owner only spoke very limited English but the food was great! In Osaka, we had dinner in the Hotel Restaurant and tried Shabu-Shabu.  It’s a Japanese Fondue and our youngest has a fond memory of it! All in all – thank you SO much for everything!  I have left a Google review and will recommend Stubborn Travel to everyone around us!!!

Maruf Family (with two children aged 14)

Travelled Summer 2019
Hi Kelly – Just a quick note to say thank you for organising our amazing Japan adventure. The notebooks on each city were invaluable and better than my Japan lonely planet. There were too many highlights. Our Tokyo guide Miyako was excellent. Totally got us and was great to have her on our first proper day to help us get our bearings, sort out the Japan rail passes and reserve seats and of course all the tips. The hotel in Tokyo was good too. Only a tiny thing. We arrived quite late on the Sat night and bizarrely everyone was hungry but there was nothing at the hotel. In the end, Dave found a Seven-Eleven nearby and got some hot snacks but it was pretty much the only thing open at midnight.

We loved team borderless and the sky tree. Girls were v pleased to go to Studio Ghibli (altho I was a bit underwhelmed tbh).

I think we were a bit unprepared for the weather ie v.v hot and humid esp for sightseeing. So taking a few breaks to cool down was essential especially in Kyoto. Our guide here was lovely, but keen to stick to a schedule. I think she felt she might let us down if she didn’t do everything on her mental list. In the end we asked for more breaks and it was all fine. Highlight was Nijo Castle. She recommended we go to the Inari shrine on our way back from Nara which was a great suggestion.

The Takayama leg was amazing. The ryokan, the food, bike ride through Furakawa and the lovely guide there were all spot on. Just one thought. Is it possible to have just had dinner on 1 night at the ryokan? There were so many places to try in Takayama was a shame we didn’t have a chance.

Hiroshima was emotional and we happened to be there on the 74th anniversary of the A bomb so saw the river flowing with lamps that evening and thousands of people lining the river banks. The day in Miyajima was slightly disappointing as the scaffolding was all over the gate (which we knew of course) but the weather forecast had closed the cable car too. There was a typhoon expected but it didn’t come. I did try to persuade D to swap Miyajima for the castle on the way to Osaka (as suggested by a friend) but in the end we stuck with our itinerary and enjoyed the deep-fried cakes in Miyajima!

Finally the hotel in Osaka was amazing just for the views and the food tour was brilliant. We had 2 guides. A young Japanese guy and a middle-aged Welsh punk rock star! They were both fantastic and gave us a real insight to Shinsekai. In hindsight wish we’d had 2 nights in Osaka but not sure what we would have ditched.

All in all a very memorable trip. We loved it. The hot-spot was a lifeline altho the downside was the greater temptation with teens to be on the phone!!! Swings and roundabout…

Really appreciate all your great advice. Have passed on Stubborn Mule to a friend planning to go to Japan next year!

Jenner Family (with children aged 14 and 17)

Travelled Summer 2019
We had an amazing time, thank you! We would love to call you to talk through our experiences! All was fab and we have nothing but praise and thanks to you guys – it went like clockwork and luckily no forces of nature disrupting us either!

We would be happy to testify for you guys – we would absolutely recommend you and use you again 😄

Playle Family

Travelled Summer 2019
Hi Charlotte – Japan was amazing.  I’ll try and send you a couple of photos in a follow up e-mail. Everyone in Japan was so nice and helpful.  The Japanese people in general were always so friendly and would go out of their way for you. The hotels were great.  Perfect for what we needed and both of them were very central and super convenient for transport, shops and restaurants. Particularly the one in Kyoto. Would have been nice to have a pool to cool off in at the end of the day as it was soooo hot but the impression I got was that not many hotels in Japanese cities have pools.

The trains are great and super easy to use – especially if you are used to London tubes.  It seems a bit intimidating but once you get to grips with it they are very straightforward and there are often English speaking information desks or helpers at some of the larger stations.

The main thing I would have changed/added was on arrival in Tokyo – arriving in Japan at 10.00am neither of us having slept on the plane we got to our hotel exhausted.  We were told that we couldn’t check in until 3.00pm.  Not ideal with kids. We went off and managed to do a few things around the city but were completely ready for meltdown at any moment.  For next time I think an early check in is required, even at an extra cost.

Everything in Japan ran like clockwork, as you would expect there.  All transfers and tours were super reliable.

We were disappointed that we couldn’t go to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Apparently it gets very booked up and we should have done this months in advance. It was in one of our information packs early on saying this was an option, so future travellers may need to be warned of this.

The snow monkey day was amazing and hugely recommended.  We were told by our guide that due to the summer weather we may not see any monkeys but they were everywhere and this is a great thing for families and children to do.  Such beautiful countryside as well.

The day tour of Tokyo was ideal as we saw so much in one day.

The Mori Digital Art Museum was astonishing.  Never seen anything like it.  Hard to explain but everyone would love it.  It felt like a luxury being collected and taken there in a car having dealt with public transport up until then.  Especially as the driver had white gloves and offered us water :). When we arrived at the museum there was hardly anyone there and then it got packed later in the day (as it was the Japanese school holidays) so worth noting that its best to go here as early in the day as possible.  Some of the digital rooms are far for effective and awe-inspiring if there are not many other people while you are viewing.

The dinner with the Maiko (Geisha) was amazing and there were Japanese craft shops there for us to look around first.  She did a show for us while we had dinner and then chatted to us for ages answering questions and playing games. Such an unforgettable experience.  The Maiko was so lovely and beautiful.

Future travellers might be interested to know that there are shops at most of the places on the itinerary so for example at temples and the Geisha dinner and at Miyajima there is plenty to buy so not much time is needed for extra shopping in Japan.

The notes said we had a day tour of Kyoto, but then said we had the afternoon free.  So we were kind of expecting a half-day tour.  The full day would have been fine in cooler weather but it was sooooo hot that in fact we gave up half way through.  The tour was lovely but after going around the Kyoto Imperial Palace at midday in the full heat we couldn’t do any more and excused ourselves. Would be fine for anyone at other times of year.

Hiroshima was very interesting and we learnt a lot.  The museum is very interesting but quite graphic and might not be suitable for younger children… Fine for us though and important to see the horrors.

Nara was one of my favourite.  The temple there was amazing and the deer so cute.

Loved Naoshima too.  Great for older children, especially if it had been cooler weather.  Quite hard to get to but worth recommended if people like art.

In Kyoto when we checked out of our hotel we had to pay tax.  It wasn’t a big deal as it was a small amount.  When I questioned this I was told that it is only something that Kyoto do (not the rest of the country) and is some sort of tourist tax.  Again you might want to warn your customers of this.

All in all we had an amazing life changing trip.  Loved everything and my son is already talking about going back again.

Jones Family (with kids aged 9 and 12)

Travelled Summer 2018
Thanks so much for helping us with the arrangements in Japan. Your detailed notes were absolutely invaluable and we used them all the time. Our guide Yumi in Tokyo was lovely with the kids and we spent hours in Harajuku. The kids’ eyes were out on sticks at all the weird and wonderful costumes. She was very patient so please pass on our thanks.

We loved Takayama and it was a great respite from the crazy cities; we hadn’t realised quite how mad Tokyo would be, so it was lovely to get to somewhere a bit quieter.

Hiroshima was just as thought-provoking / distressing / amazing as you had warned us. We are really glad that we took the children but they were quite shell-shocked to realise the extent of the disaster. But it was well worth visiting.

And Kyoto was amazing! I could have stayed for weeks here but the children probably thought that we had long enough. They had got a little temple / palaced out by the end of it, but J and I loved every minute. The kids loved seeing the geishas though.

All in all an amazing trip, thank you.


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