Dave & Gill Renvoize
Takayama Autumn Festival Tour
We note and agree with the general positive comments already submitted by fellow travellers on this trip so will not repeat these other than to say this element of our longer trip was well organised and very enjoyable. We also used Dragonfly to organise extra time in Japan, to see places not included in the Takayama tour itinerary and were extremely impressed with the service they provided. Russ was very responsive to our enquiries, with speedy and helpful responses to our many questions. He turned our vague thoughts into specific options, detailing what was possible in the time available and offering advice on other things we might include. He worked up a more detailed itinerary with price estimates and did advise that with Japan's reopening to tourists hotel bookings in the more popular locations were becoming challenging and expensive. Indeed he did struggle to book hotels, particularly on Miyajima Island, but he persevered and was able to deliver excellent hotels in each of our chosen locations. His planning on our behalf was very detailed, the locations of the chosen hotels allowed easy access to transport and to our intended destinations and most impressive of all was the detailed instructions regarding each journey. We had an itinerary which detailed the best train times, the platform numbers, the locations of coin lockers and even tickets for our reserved seats on the Shinkansen journeys. This made our life so much easier, allowing us to concentrate on the sites visited rather than how to get there. We would certainly recommend Dragonfly Tours to anyone considering any of their standard trips but especially to anyone wishing to extend such trips, as we did, or to plan their own itinerary entirely.
Takayama Autumn Festival Tour
This ‘small group tour’ really appealed to me as it had a great itinerary for those who wished to experience areas steeped in Japanese history and tradition. The tour size was small and the timetable wasn’t too rushed. On the first night of the tour we got to meet our tour group and together with Russ experienced the buzz of Shibuyu and its intriguing colourful nightlife. This was a fun introduction to the tour. At an easy enough pace, every day we got to see both beautiful and amazing historical sites. The traditional meals whilst at our Hakone and Shirakawa-go accommodations were like a banquet. Amazing Japanese delicacies are served in a traditional way. The Hida beef was a real treat and cooked to perfection. After our evening meal in Shirakawa-go, I actually had the best night’s sleep on the floor! Spending time in this UNESCO village and at a traditional inn was a highlight for me. The evening of the Takayama festival our guide Masami took us two solo travellers through the food market stalls. I especially liked the sweet red bean pancakes. It was very interesting watching the old masters preparing unusual delicacies. Masami making this night even better as she knew the ingredients used and traditions. The festival floats next morning were a splendid show of wealth with all the grand floats adorned in red and gold. The marionettes were something very unique at this festival. Later I found an authentic Japanese tea house that served both teas and coffees, along with Macha and other delicious cakes. It was in a gorgeous setting with a Japanese garden complete with bamboo water fountains and small maples trees. Takayama is a beautiful town with some very photo-worthy streets lined with traditional wooden homes, shops, eateries and tea houses. Onto Kyoto, which like Takayama has some beautifully preserved traditional buildings, especially in the Gion Geisha district and another good place for girls to experience dressing up like a Geisha for a few hours. For the last day of our tour, Russ gave provided some amazing memories with a visit to the Golden Temple which put on a dazzling show with the sun reflecting gold onto the lake surrounding the temple. The Ninomaru-goten Palace was next with its large polished floorboards that sang a quiet song when walked on; along with the stunningly painted walls each giving insight into flora and fauna during this time. This busy day finished with a unanimous vote to visit the Kyoto food market. Some of us wanted to wander and others stopped for a café latte. Feeling weary and hungry, I spotted a tempura bar and had delicious prawn tempura. It was a busy, but memorable last day of our tour. I felt Dragonfly Tours Japan was a very well-balanced tour. We weren’t rushed, and most evenings were ours to enjoy how we wished. A well-orchestrated tour from start to finish. Thank you Russ. Feel I hit the ‘JACKPOT’ - 5 STARS
Takayama Festival Tour. Oct 2023
Couldn't be happier with Dragonfly and I can honestly say that was one of my best holidays! Russ and the team were all so lovely, answered every question and made the whole travel experience as seamless as possible. We saw so many wonderful sites and Russ even helped organise some extra curricula activities which was so helpful. Would 110% recommend Dragonfly!
Rosemarie and Fred Nye
Takayama Festival Tour - Autumn 2023
Wow, what a holiday! Thank you so much Russ for creating this amazing tour that gave us an incredible insight of Japan, its history, landscape, housing, culture, colour, people and new experiences. There were so many highlights to remember and bring a smile. Hakone and the adventure up the mountain by cable car to Owakudani - Hell's valley and the sampling of black eggs, to the walk along the ancient highway through the forest, treading on the same stones as those travellers who used this route during the Edo period. Thanks Russ for this amazing trek that despite the rain was a bit of a challenge but still great fun. After a very full day our introduction to an Onsen was enlightening to say the least but most relaxing and enjoyable and we both recommend that everyone indulge. Takayama and the festival was definitely the highlight of the Tour and even though celebrations were limited due to some rain there was enough to give us a real sense of tradition, colour and the Japanese people. Our itinerary included many suggestions to try during free time so every day was as full as we wanted it to be. Our next stop was the picturesque village of Shirakawa-go and our stay in a gassho zukuri. A night never to be forgotten with our group sharing an incredible dinner and lovely birthday cake for Fred (thanks so much to Masami our tour guide for arranging this) - and sleeping on a futon on the tatami floors! Next stop was to Kanazawa, so historic with gardens, samurai houses and a geisha district and then on to Kyoko. It was 22 years since I had last enjoyed a short week in this magical city, it had certainly grown but the sights that we visited with both Masami and the Russ were definitely well selected and showed Kyoto at its very best. Throughout our tour the accommodation was excellent and locations could not have been better. Our transport by bus and train worked effortlessly, along with moving our luggage between hotels. Thank you again Russ for the great experience, your enthusiasm and participation in the tour made it an exceptional experience. Dragonfly Tours will be well recommended to our friends with a triple AAA star rating.
Heartland Tour May 2023
I have no hesitation with recommending Dragonfly Tours for anyone looking to explore Japan. Russ was extremely helpful from even before the beginning, organising the hotels and JR Passes/Suica cards and helping with transfers to and from the airport (even covering time outside the tour dates). The communication from the get-go was exceptional and there was a great balance of the group activities (the guidance for the major sites on the itinerary was great) and also plenty of time to explore on your own and set your own agenda for the day. The guides Russ and Satoko were very open and knowledgable, and were able to share with us a side of Japan that many would likely have missed if organised alone such as the tranquil Miyajima or the authentic tea ceremony. For me, it was the perfect way to relax as a solo-traveller and enjoy many of the amazing parts of Japan outside of Tokyo. Many thanks to Russ and Satoko for the great experience!
Ganyo & Penka Obreykova
Heartland Tour May 2023
We had an incredible trip to Japan with a guided tour, and it exceeded all our expectations. There was an abundance of sights to see, and everything ran seamlessly. The selection of hotels was excellent, and they were conveniently located in fantastic areas. Throughout the entire experience, the communication from Russ and Satoko, our tour guides, was outstanding. They were attentive and provided valuable information before and during the tour. Choosing Dragonfly Tours was the best decision we made to explore the authentic side of Japan. Their expertise and professionalism were evident throughout the entire journey. We would recommend them to anyone seeking an unforgettable tour experience.
Heartland tour May 2023
I have no hesitation in recommending Dragonfly tours: this holiday fulfilled its promise. I chose this company after scouring other tours: I wanted to see as much as possible in a short space of time, and especially Japanese history ,culture and it’s gardens. Excellent value. Excellent organisation.I joked to my friend we’d need a holiday after this holiday there was much in the itinerary! Attention to detail is evident. From the day you come to Japan and your journey back to the airport, Russ , the ‘ boss’ makes sure each person’s needs are met. Detailed and easy instruction for various journeys. Tickets supplied, bought in advance, including the bullet train. Trips well organised. Guided throughout, Russ on our first leg of the journey- Tokyo/ Kyoto; Satoko for the second- Hiroshima , Koyosan and more. Their knowledge invaluable. Small group tours- we were 8 . This particular tour involved quite a bit of walking and stamina, which was great, but it wouldn’t suit anyone expecting to be ferried about from site to site, and lounging by a poolside.. My favourites? Staying in the ryokan in Miyajima, and the temple lodgings in Mt Koya, the Tori gates- everywhere! the Imperial gardens in Tokyo; Kyoto and the geisha- the theatre, the onsen, the eating places…and so much more. Ab Fab ! Thank you Russell and Satoko..
Takayama Festival Tour April 2023
Being a third generation Japanese-Canadian, i joined this tour for places i've not been before (last visit 1973 and 75). I was not disappointed. With only four of us ladies from AUS and America, it was an intimate guided tour first by Russ and then by Masami. I stayed with the tour for the first 7 days and then went out on my own for 5 days and this was fine with Russ. My provided JP pass covered my own plans to Noto peninsula and back to Tokyo and airport, thanks to Dragonfly. Entry into Japan; hints on car rental was well navigated by Russ. From a happy camper.
Jan & Graeme Hunter
Heartland Tour May 23
This was a great trip. Loads to see. Everything went like clockwork. Hotels all good and in brilliant locations. Communication from Russ pre tour and during tour excellent. After the tour we went to Hakone ourselves. Accommodation booked through Dragonfly Tours. Russ provided a self - guided itinerary which we were not expecting as we were on our own. We could not have picked a better tour operator to show us the real Japan. We would have no hesitation in using Dragonfly tours again and would thoroughly recommend them.
Belinda and Simon Fidler
Ancient Highways - self guided
This is our second time visiting Japan with Dragonfly Tours which tells you how good they were the first time! This time we were treated to the same high quality. Russ was excellent in communicating with us while we chose the tour and tweaked it so that it was just what we wanted down to the last detail - nothing was too much trouble. We were met at the airport and given a full pack of tickets and detailed instructions so that even though we were self guided we felt confident (also knowing Russ would be at the end of the phone line if necessary helped!) And it all went super smoothly - no difficulties finding anything or catching any of the trains/buses. I can't recommend Japan highly enough and I can't recommend Dragonfly highly enough. I've no doubt there will be a third trip with Russ and the crew!
Cherry Blossom March 24 2023
I've been hesitant in writing my review, I knew I'd never find the right words to express just how incredible and impactful this tour was. My mother has had a long time dream of visiting Japan, and I finally convinced her to take the leap and go for. After looking online it was an easy choice to book with Dragonfly, and I am so grateful we did. We booked in September of 2019 to visit for the upcoming cherry blossom festival starting in 2020 and then as everyone is aware covid happened. For 3 years Russ has kept in contact with me letting us know that once the world opened up again, to rest assured we would be on that tour. Never in my life have I met a more genuine,caring, business owner. And on top of that the tour is incredible and worth every moment. Take your leap and experience the magic that is Japan with a knowledgeable tour guide who becomes a friend. Thank you Russ for everything, and Etsuko you're incredible.
Pat & Alan Kahl
Cherry Blossom Tour - 2023
We flew out on the 22nd March with some trepidation but need not have worried in the least. From start to finish we were looked after both by Russ and our guide, Toshi, magnificently. Our group of 12 might have been hand picked as we all got on splendidly. The hotels were first class and the tour itself exceeded our expectations. Beautiful blossom everywhere we went even in the rain. The first night meal arranged by Russ set the tone for the rest of the tour. Good food, ample to drink and lots of laughter. Many beautiful sights to see and interesting facts learned. We would have no hesitation in recommending Dragonfly if you’re looking for attention to detail and a personal service. Top marks all round.
Cherry Blossom Tour March 2023
We took this tour long delayed due to Covid restrictions. Russ kept in touch while we were waiting on Japan re-opening and could not have been more helpful . It’s clear he puts his heart and soul into organising these tours to make sure you get a totally authentic experience of the country, the people and the culture. The total ethos of the trip is putting together a like minded small group of people with a zest for life, bond them from day 1 with a great get-together fuelled by laughter and food/beer/wine and then give them a great guide ((Toshi take a bow!) and show them the highlights of Japan. We absolutely loved the whole experience. If you want to see the real Japan Dragonfly is the 5 star option and the only one we’d ever use.
Ancient Highway Tour – October 2019
I booked this tour because it included all the main points I wanted to visit on my first trip to Japan (Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Kyoto & Hiroshima) at a very reasonable price, despite arranging our own flights (Emirates from Birmingham UK good timing and great value) My wife and I arrived in Tokyo a couple of days early so that we could adjust to the time difference and Russ (Tour company owner) was happy to arranged the pickup and transfer to the hotel he uses in Tokyo, Also fortunate that we arrived just before city lock-down due to Hurricane Hagibis. We were safe in our hotel and to Russ’s credit still ran the tour, on time and with the excellent guide Yukiko, despite being the only ones to turn up, and promptly rearranging our second hotel near Mt Fuji to avoid the storm damage area. We enjoyed every minute of the tour to this fascinating, colourful and interesting country, we were so impressed with the polite kind and helpful people, every where clean tidy and well organised and the rail journeys are on another level, as was the food, sights and sounds even the Onsen (don’t be bashful and give it a try) the gardens and castles so pristine. I am an addicted world traveller of five decades and I wouldn't hesitate in saying this is one of the best places and finest tour operators I have experienced in that time.
Marcel Colman & Julie Butcher
Crimson Leaf Tour - November 2019
The Crimson Leaf Tour attained everything and more that was promised. The organisation was seamless from airport arrival to the last hugs of an emotional farewell. Our guide, Katy, was unbelievable in ushering our small group past crowds, through subways and other barriers to be at the front of the queue at any particular site, at the right train carriage, in the scheduled bus or taxi. Everything was so easy but more than that, our guide was extremely informative and knowledgeable tinged with a delightful sense of humour, we miss her still. Each day was planned and explained the previous day. Private diversions to particular areas of interest were accommodated with explicit travel guidance, no one ever went missing. Even prior to arriving, we received in the mail a compact book of information and helpful guidance that addressed matters that made this tour stressless. In summary, a superb 5+ star experience as was the accommodation.
Mark & Marichu
Heartland Tour - Nov 2019
This is a 5-star tour for many reasons, but especially for the value, service and variety. Public transport is frequent, ultra reliable and problem-free, thanks to Hikari our tour guide. We were provided with transport passes to cover all of our journeys, including a 2-week JR bullet train pass, current value £455 per person. All our accommodation was close to transport hubs, clean and comfortable and with no skimping, with prices varying from £120-£220 for a twin room. Hikari was indefatigable and made sure that, if we wanted, we missed nothing. With hindsight, we would have given the Teenager Street in Tokyo a miss; a bit too hectic for us late at night, negotiating the crowds, after a full day of activities. Hikari always went the extra mile for us, even sourcing a Godzilla toy that we wanted to buy for a grandchild. The itinerary was well-balanced. From the poignant visit to Hiroshima, the imposing Himeji Castle with its beautiful gardens, various shrines and temples, a night with the monks, a cemetery walk (spooky at night), our intimate private tea ceremony to a performance by anachronistic rocker-billies jiving the afternoon away. Thank you Russ for the inexpensive tour and thank you for not subjecting us to any tourist trap pressure sales sites that often mar tours operated by other companies.
Mark and Alison Arthurson
Takayama Autumn Festival Tour October 2019
Our 12 days in Japan were organised so well. From the time we arrived to the time we left, everything was in place thanks to Russ and his Dragonfly team. Great accommodation, informative tours, cultural appreciation and awareness, reliability and bonus friendship - it was a trip we will always fondly remember. Japan is a safe and beautiful country to visit - a fascinating blend of modern and ancient ways. Thanks Russ, for your attention to detail and extra help whenever it was needed.
Takayama Autumn Festival Tour. Oct 2019
This trip has been a long time on the bucket list and finally made it. Everything about the tour ticked my list particularly the walking and local transport aspect - this provided great experiences with local people and with the excellent information and discussion provided, to understand more of Japanese culture. The destinations and activities were well thought out and timed to experience and take things in at the right pace. Attention to detail a treat and nothing a bother. Thanks Russ for your excellent guiding, the history and information you provided, the culinary and etiquette guidance and great sense of humour. If you want to 'see' and experience Japan these are the people to do it with - really delivered all round.
Cherry Blossom Tour, spring 2019
My partner and I went on the Cherry blossom tour
in April 2019, and from beginning to end it exceeded all expectations. Japan is an amazing country, with centuries old traditions along side the ultra modern . Dragonfly tours is the ideal stress free way to experience it all. Russ made booking a breeze and his care and attention to every little detail was wonderful. The guide we had was very knowledgeable and kind . Dragonfly is the perfect way to see Japan, it's a well organised, professional tour but with the added flexibility that allows you to do your own thing if you want to. I would highly recommend seeing Japan with Dragonfly, you'll be so glad you did.
Michaela and Chris Rowlands
Takayama Festival Tour - Spring 2019
We have just returned from the Takayama Festival Tour
. Russ and the Dragonfly team took us on a wonderful Japanese adventure, we had a marvellous time experiencing the culture, food and history. The planning was excellent from start to finish and Russ, our guide gave us great personal service. There were so many highlights, the Takayama Festival, Mt Fuji, Shirakawa- go, beautiful temples, fabulous gardens , cherry blossoms and the amazing cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. The accommodation was very good and comfortable. Staying in a traditional inn and farmhouse with authentic Japanese meals was great. We thoroughly recommend Dragonfly Tours, if you want to experience Japan in a small group with professional experienced guides and have a wonderful holiday.
Takayama Festival Tour - Oct 2018
My husband and I were on the same trip as Maureen Greenland, who has provided so much info in her review. What can I add? I was rather apprehensive to book with a small company, unknown to me or any of my traveller friends. I had lots of questions for Russ, including financial arrangements and insurance. He answered my questions promptly and in a very honest and straightforward manner. The tour seemed to fit our desires - a small group (only 10 in our group), using various forms of public transport and staying in some traditional accommodation, so we booked. Did it meet our expectations? Absolutely ....... and more! It was all very well organised from start to finish and we felt we got an authentic view of Japan. We had a great time! Book with confidence.
Takayama Festival Tour - Oct 2018
A brilliant holiday! How did we manage to see so much, yet at a manageable pace? Our group of ten was led by first Yuki, then Russ, both excellent guides with local and historical knowledge. The highlights for me were: the ancient magnificent Takayama floats - tall, red and highly decorated with carvings and lanterns; sleeping on the floor in the traditional house in the hill village - good home-cooked Japanese food there too, beautifully presented; watching a surprise concert practice in the dark village - dancing with coolie hats! gardens - the Japanese love their trees. (Buddhist Zen gardens with their raked gravel are something different.); wallowing in the hot spring water (naked, but single-sex, indoors and civilised!) a weird and wonderful stage show of music, dancing and little dramas, as well as flower arranging and tea making; learning to play the taiko drums - energetic and fun! the comfort and efficiency of the bullet train, and a bonus glimpse of Mount Fuji as we sped back to Tokyo; painted temples, mystifying shrines, and beautiful places galore....... It was all so well organised, to give us a varied and exciting holiday, full of interest and food for thought. Thank you, Russ.
"For a number of years my wife and I have had Japan on our 'bucket list'. We researched Japan and came to the conclusion that an organised tour would be the best way to go especially given our mature ages. My wife and I have travelled to over 40 countries and we have never ever embarked on organised tours for various reasons with the primary ones being large groups and military organisation. We relented on the basis that we seek a company specialising in small groups with a certain informality. Well we 'struck gold' when we came across Dragonfly Tours which suited us totally. Russ and his team could not do enough for us. They acted promptly, professionally and efficiently from the time we enquired and booked to the end of our tour. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with the other 6 people on tour and would not hesitate one iota in recommending prospective visitors to Japan to utilise Dragonfly Tours. You won't regret it!"
Tour taken: Fuji Paths Tour
Cherry Blossom Tour
For many years I have wanted to go to Japan during the Spring
in cherry blossom season and Dragonfly Tours helped me live my dream. It was a stress free holiday as everything was done for me and if I wanted advice or wasn’t sure about something there was always someone to help. My holiday was everything I dreamed it would be, thank you Dragonfly!
Tour taken: Cherry Blossom Tour
Cherry Blossom Tour - 2018
Having done a lot of research into various tour companies prior to booking I am happy to say that our tour with Dragonfly, Japan lived up to expectations. Before going Russ was brilliant at answering all of my questions and there were quite a few as I was taking my 14 year old granddaughter with me. The tour was well organised. We were met at the airport even though we arrived a day early. The accommodation at our various destinations was first class. Our tour guide was a lovely lady, thank you Etsuko! We travelled on all the various forms of public transport which I really enjoyed, it gives you much more of a feel for the country you are visiting. With the time restraints we saw as much as we could possibly see and made it in time to see the beautiful display of cherry blossoms. I especially loved Kyoto and will certainly make another trip to Japan, maybe in the autumn next time to see the beautiful autumn colours! I would highly recommend Dradonfly Tours, Thank you Russ.
Cherry Blossom Tour
We went on the Cherry Blossom Tour with Dragonfly and had the most brilliant time. The cities we visited, the amount of time in each, and the things wedid and saw were exactly what we were looking for. The walking and the use of public transportlet us see something of how day-to-day life goes in Japan - getting shunted out of the metrowithout our feet touching the ground was a spectacular introduction to Tokyo commuting! Ourguide, Etsuko, was the most friendly and pleasant of companions. She was unfailingly helpfuland informative, and the fact that she travelled with us throughout the tour was a distinct bonus.We found Dragonfly’s customer service to be first-class. Russ dealt promptly and effectively withany queries we had before the tour, even down to booking baseball tickets for us. It was also veryhelpful to have someone meeting you at the airport on arrival. The small-company approachworked really well for us and we would happily recommend Dragonfly to anyone consideringa visit to Japan. And, happily, the cherry blossom in Kyoto was quite breathtaking.
Crimson Leaf Tour
We had great time on tour and loved the fact that the group
is so limited in numbers. There was no cattle class happening! Support
from head office regarding various issues was great and such assistance was
Sarina Cowle B.Ec. LLb. LLM
Tour taken: Crimson Leaf Tour
Mike and Janet Howell
I have read other reports on your trips and was inclined to think they were a bit too glowing and probably selected from the many you may receive and wondered whether reality would fall a little short of the blurbs.
I was wrong!!!
Thanks again Russ and Katy [ Kaori], for your parts in an amazing holiday that changed many of our preconceptions of Japan.
Russ, your organisation and thoughts that have gone into creating a wonderful itinerary for such a short time is a credit to you and Katy was the hostess of our dreams.
Nothing was a trouble and the way you both went out of your way to do the little extras for us and others in our tiny group made this one of the best holidays we have ever had.
Right from our first contact we have been impressed by the meticulous but concise and well presented information and planning.
Yet… we still had time to be spontaneous and take advantage of things like the Tourist and Cultural Arts experience that popped up, so we all put on Kimonos and learnt some basic fan dance moves.
On the ground it only got better.
Hotels were well chosen in the centres of each city yet amazingly quiet and with ultra-helpful staff. We walked for miles all round each point of stay.
Katy was so loveable and knowledgable and had such an infectious laugh that her enjoyment of what she was showing us reflected the essence of pride that Japanese take in their lifestyle.
The use of travel passes took any hassle out of internal travel and we all ventured off on our own to explore with confidence on many occasions, using local underground and busses.
We loved the gardens and temples shown and the monastery stay was a highlight.
In all honesty the only disappointment was the swim at Miyajima in front of the hotel.
It was a bit weedy and polluted and neither of us dared to put our faces under… but then we are spoiled for choice living next to the Abel Tasman National Park here in NZ.
It was also cheaper than we expected and real value for money overall, with food costs quite comparable with our own.
We have been travelling the world for the last 15 years or so and I endorse this holiday as one of the best we have ever done.
I am excited by the photos and filmed footage i have taken and now look forward to compiling both album and DVD of our Japanese Journey and reliving a wonderful winter [for us !!], break in a warm, safe, friendly and fascinating place.
Well done Dragonfly tours.
Mike and Janet Howell
Jackie and Gareth Thomas
Cherry Blossom Tour
We would like to say that we have had a great holiday and a big thank you to all concerned. Our group was great and we had several meet-ups as a group -meals and drinks etc, which were not in the schedule.
We were very impressed with the way Russ answered all our queries, prior to booking, as at it turned out all were accurate too. Also we appreciated the help with the bookings outside the designated tour.
Thank you Dragonfly for a really wonderful holiday.
Private Family Tour
Where to start:
We are a family of four with two teenage kids and found everything to
be very professional and catered for, our guide Mayumi is by far the
best guide we have ever had she could not do enough for us and having
one guide throughout most of our three week trip really helped.
For the last three days we had another guide called Akira he was
also very knowledgeable and helpful and one of the nicest people we
have ever met, we had a great three days together.
I would go as far to say this was the best bespoke guided tour that we
have ever had made possible by the guides that were provided and the
professionalism of Dragonfly tours.
What a fantastic holiday!!!!!
Kyushu Gateway Tour
A varied itinerary, well organised, with good accommodation and an excellent guide – what more can you need from a tour company and a tour? Dragonfly Tours Japan and the Kyushu Gateway tour had them all – and good travelling companions too. A big thank you to Russ for arranging it and to Kaori for being our guide. I thoroughly recommend the company to anyone considering a first visit to Japan or to someone making a return visit.
We have been back from our trip to Japan for a while now and the memories are as vivid as ever. We had a brilliant time and it was definitely one of our best-ever holidays. This was, in no small part, due to you and your company. We loved the fact the trip was well-planned and efficient, but at the same time, really good fun! Although Gordon and I did everything on the tour, it worked really well that people could choose to opt out of activities. Japan is clearly a fascinating country and your knowledge of life there made all the difference to what we absorbed while on the tour. It’s the only country I can think of where the super-modern and very traditional exist without any seeming contradiction. Our guide Katy-san was superb. She worked so hard for us and coped with the unexpected so pleasantly. I learned a lot about Japan with her, especially the philosophy of Shinto. She is a genuinely nice person who made each day a delight. Japanese food was a revelation as like many, although I liked sushi, I thought that was basically it. I was amazed at the range of food, how good it was and how inexpensive. The breakfast at the Dormy Inn, in particular, was outstanding and I doubt I will ever come across pickled burdock anywhere else! Travelling by train and bus was key to the experience, as you felt part of what was going on, instead of looking out of a coach window. And finally, the Japanese school-children we met who wanted to practice their English, especially at Hiroshima, were delightful. I would thoroughly recommend your trips as the best way to experience Japan and wish you every success!
Ancient Highway Tour
Just to say again: what a wonderful trip we had on September's 'Ancient Highway' tour! We did so much, and in such a short space of time: lots of the classic sights, plus lots of the moments that make holidays and really stay in the mind - a glorious swim at Miyajima (and feeding the bossy deer that walk the streets there), and a lakeside sake picnic while waiting for a bus, and walking down the Highway itself, in the shade of enormous cedars..... And all the practical bits - train tickets, hotel bookings, luggage forwarding (genius, that) - worked so seamlessly, we didn't have to worry about anything. Actually, you got us so confident with the transport system that, after the tour ended, I successfully did a side trip to Yokohama and back *on my own*! Wow.
Ancient Highway Tour
I consider myself fortunate to have had such great travelling companions and tour guide. It was quite the experience, thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating! (You can quote me!)
Simon and Mary
Crimson Leaf Tour
It is close to a year since I enjoyed the magic of Japan and the exceptional hospitality of Dragonfly Tours, the fact that this experience remains fresh in my memory is due to Mamia (our guide) and the small size of the group. Great flexibility in daily extras was always discussed during the evening meal, which in itself is a fantastic event. Highlights of the tour are too many to mention (as corny as that sounds), but true. I have travelled quite extensively and if I should decide to return to Japan, which is most likely I will be doing it with Dragonfly Tours, who remain firmly in my favourites. Well done to you all.
Bettina and Richy
We just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed the Heartland Tour we did with Dragonfly Tours recently. The tour went amazingly well, and we particularly enjoyed the diversity of sights and activities covering all things Japanese. Kaori was invaluable helping us get around and get fed and was really great fun! A real credit to her country and to Dragonfly. People were friendly and our tour group were brilliant to travel with and we have some new memories which we will cherish forever. All the best to you and your family, hopefully we can come back one day! Enjoy the hobnobs! Bettina and Richy
Anju & Neetul
Firstly, please accept our apologies for the immense delay in getting our review to you. Our time in Japan was truly amazing, and we have recommended it to so many others. Here is what we wanted to say about the Heartland tour: "My wife and I booked the ‘Heartland tour’ through Dragonfly tours. We also wanted to visit Hakone during our visit to Japan. Russ was very helpful during the planning phase particularly with options for our stay in Hakone. My wife contacted Russ via the Dragonfly website - communication was swift and Russ answered all our questions. When we arrived in Tokyo, Russ was there to meet us at the airport (Haneda) and guide us to our hotel. As we’d arrived early in the morning he gave us a list if things that we could do, and then instructions to meet the rest of the group that evening for our first dinner. It was a lovely train ride with Russ, getting to know him better. That evening we met up with our guide Kaori (totally out of this world!). During the tour she gave us an insight into the current but also historic life in all the areas we visited. She was excellent in organising the group, giving us tips on where to eat and drink and generally fun. We really appreciated that the tour uses local transportation methods - trains, bullet trains, metro & bus. So much nicer and exciting than sitting in a 'standard' tour bus. Each area had it's different highlights and so it is difficult to say what we loved the most. But a few things that stand out are: Geisha district in Kyoto with free time for my wife to take photos - we stumbled upon 2 Geisha going for a stroll in the park; the amazing way the Japanese people have re-built Hiroshima and learning about the paper cranes; walking through the Okunoin Graveyard - so beautiful, peaceful and a great time to reflect; and strolling through Tokyo at night - the lights, people, sounds, smells - a pleasant assault on all the senses. There was plenty to do and see and we felt nicely immersed in Japanese culture without being overwhelmed. There was an excellent balance of tours and rest/ free time. We were fortunate to get some great views of Mount Fuji from the bullet train, and again during our tour extension in Hakone. In the build up to the tour Russ posted us a personalised tour booklet with an in-depth itinerary and helpful tips for visitors to Japan - so exciting! We have kept this as part of mementos of our time there. We cannot praise the tour highly enough and would highly recommend this tour company." Thank you once again for a fabulous holiday. Keep well, and best wishes to you and your family. Anju & Neetul
Our Heartland tour of Japan with Russ was one of the best vacations we've ever taken. We learned so much about Japan and saw more than we ever expected. If we return to Japan we will take another tour with Dragonfly tours (and Russ).
As for publishable comments it is quite simple. There should always be a "secret ingredient" in every holiday to make it magic and you, Russ, were it. Dragonfly were a great group to go with because we saw the insiders point of view and you were so helpful right from the word go. Every success to you.
Norman and Margaret Owens
Russ, you run a very professional operation. Your communication with us which started with us booking 12 months before we traveled was regular and reassuring, before, during, and after our trip. Even as regular travelers we were amazed by Japan, every day brought new and enjoyable experiences. Our guide Kunie was a constant delight and saying goodbye was like parting from an old friend. You might be a Scot but you've put together a wonderful Japanese travel experience. It will be a pleasure recommending your tours to our friends. We wish you every success and look forward to returning to see the rest of Japan.
Laura and Phil
Trip of a lifetime!!
Kay and Joyce
Cherry Blossom Tour
A great tour showing the real Japan and its culture. Enjoyed the company and the input from personal experience, this also showed in the arrangements which were timed to avoid the crowds.
Hope you are good and still busy in your garden. Please could you add the following to your website: ?What can I say apart from WOW ? fantastic holiday, wonderful country, and brilliant guide. The tour was very well organised and even though it was busy it was well worth it. I saw and did so many new things, and using public transport was an excellent idea as you get to see all the little things you wouldn?t see on a tour bus. It was also good to go to places that were off the normal tourist route. The accommodation was very good, and nothing was too much trouble. When I went off on my own a phone call from Russ checking that I was ok was totally unexpected but much appreciated. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, and would certainly like to return to Japan. The other 2 couples on the tour were good company and helped to make the holiday so enjoyable. Thanks Russ.
Cherry Blossom Tour
For a first time visit the tour gave a very good cross-section of Japanese life, culture and history. Akiko was informative and enthusiastic throughout the trip making the tour an experience well worth the money.
Judy & Lee Jackson
Hi Russ, just a line to say a big thank you for our wonderful holiday. Lee and I feel we did so much and saw so much of the way the Japanese live and work; what a great, well organised and clean country. We thought you were a great guide and made it so interesting for us, we?ll defiantly recommend Dragonfly Tours to every one who asks.
Tour taken: Japan Heartland Tour
Dr. John Mann and John Mann Jr.
If you want to experience Japanese lifestyle and culture, Dragonfly is the tour operator to use. Small and dedicated to customer service Dragonfly enhanced our personal experience. John and I have no regrets and greatly appreciate the effort that was put forth to satisfy our desires.
Ancient Highway Tour
*Just writing to say a massive 'THANK YOU' for a really wonderful holiday with Dragonfly Tours. Japan is an amazing country and travelling with Dragonfly completed the whole experience. I particularly enjoyed the wide range of activities offered on the tour; from walking to visiting shrines to relaxing on the beach; which meant that every day was unique and special. I also found using public transport greatly enriched my experience of Japan, even if I did get travel sick! I would highly recommend Dragonfly to anyone as it provides a very friendly and comprehensive experience of Japan, the quality of which is far richer than would be possible in a larger group with a big tour agency. Thank you for such a great time :)* It's 15oc and raining in England so winter clothes are out already! Hope you've managed to sort out your field, we have arrived home to more apples than it is possible to know what to do with.
Tour taken: Japan Ancient Highways Tour
Thanks for the tour, although at first I was a bit hesitant about the groups age range, it turned out VERY enjoyable. Each person was interesting and kind. Good luck with the future tours!
Ancient Highway Tour
A lovely trip. It did involve some early starts and lots of walking but we enjoyed a whole range of Japan old and new, cultured and modern. A wonderful 30th anniversary gift to ourselves.
The Dragonfly Tours experience was definitely a positive one. I've been wanting to go to Japan for quite a few years now and it was even better than expected. I can safely say that I will return again, but in the mean time I'm going to try and take some Japanese lessons. I loved the whole experience, from the sights to the culture and traditions. So when I'm back in the country (3-4 years) I'll defo give you a ring so we could meet up and have a few rounds of sake
Steve and Galina Imrie
Ancient Highway Tour
Japan is like an onion, and you need someone guiding you while you try to peel it as your eyes water. Dragonfly is the perfect host, with Russ being a Westerner who is fully in love with Japan and who lives there not as an expat, but as someone who the French aptly describe as an autochtone. Seeing the country through his eyes was wonderful and truly unforgettable. We would not have thought of a better introduction to Japan.
I wanted my visit to Japan to be the holiday of a lifetime, so I spent some time researching all the available tour options on the Internet. I was drawn to Dragonfly Tours as their tour group numbers were limited to 8 and I thought this, combined with their flexible approach to the itinerary, would help to make the holiday a more "tailor-made" experience to suit me. As I am a vegetarian, I thought Japanese dining might be a difficulty but this was never a problem & I enjoyed some of the best meals ever. The holiday surpassed all my expectations and Russ's wealth of local knowledge and his anecdotes together with the tour's regular use of public transport ensured we came away with a much deeper understanding of the country, it's people & history. I would sum up the holiday in one word. "Outstanding." I wish you both all the best for the future. Take care of yourselves
An excellent tour, at the right pace and which encompasses all that Japan has to offer.
Brenda Keyser & Peter Murdock and family
Thanks so much for the photos Russ - they were great. I promised you an endorsement for the website if you want so here goes: Our family had the great pleasure & privilege of having Russ as our tour guide on a private extended version of the Ancient Highways tour. We had an amazing time - Russ took care of everything, warned us of the dos and donts of being in a different country, adapted to our needs and wishes and generally made sure that our trip was perfect. I would not hesitate to travel with Dragonfly Tours again and have already highly recommended it to many people. Thanks again Russ for a sensational family time we will never forget!!
Michael & Marian
Ancient Highway Tour
Dear Russ, A sincere note of thanks for providing us with the perfect introduction to Japanese life, culture and history. We felt we achieved so much in such a short time. Small group tours are definitely our preferred way to travel now as your tour opened our eyes to so many interesting and challenging options, without the high cost of some packaged tours. Our holiday with you gave us so many wonderful memories, not to mention a lot of laughs - we hope that our performance with you in the karaoke room never makes it on to the web! Perhaps the best recommendation we can make is that we want to do it all again, with you - exchange rate permitting!
Angela and Adam Pettifer
Hi Russ, here’s some soundbites for your testimonials: "I would definitely recommend Dragonfly Tours for anybody considering visiting Japan. My wife and I went there for our honeymoon and Russ arranged a semi-guided tour specifically for us with a full itinerary for ten days. It was a great set-up -Russ would spend a couple of days with us in each new city helping us orientate ourselves, while being shown every great attraction, interesting hidden little side streets, the best places to eat etc. We were then free to explore by ourselves for a couple of days before moving to the next city - and Russ was at the other end of the phone if we needed his advice. This was exactly how we wanted our honeymoon to go and Russ and his team arranged exactly that. Russ was friendly, knowledgeable company throughout, and it was great fun spending time with him. Thanks again guys, it was a blast!
We really enjoyed our trip to Japan, and thanks again to both you and Mary for making it so special - the walks and the train trips were amazing, and the ryokan made us feel that we were in the real Japan! George is busy looking up on Google exactly where we were - he'll no doubt be e-mailing you with the height of the place at Hakone! Hope the rest of the season goes well for you, and as we said we will be happy to be used as a testimonial any time - your organisation worked really well! Cheers
Jeannie and David Mok
Thank you for such an enjoyable time in Japan. Seeing that we only had 7 days to see something of Osaka and other 'bits' of Japan, and that other operators did not cater for our specific needs and given time constraints, Dragonfly Japan Tour came up with the best possible options. What impressed us was the flexibility afforded to us by Russ in all the pre-arrival communications (which incidentally, were helpful and fast); even on tour, when we had extra time, Russ suggested 'extras' that helped enhance our daily 'adventures' (like our surprise stop in Kobe). The information provided on tour was illuminating, relating to restaurants, transport options, historical facts, shopping areas, cultural practices and traditions; however, it was never over-whelming. We're now back in Brisbane, amazed that we covered so much (but at our own pace!), ate such a range of interesting food and shopped to our hearts' content, all in a space of a week! Russ, who met us at the airport, showed us around Osaka, Nara, Himeji etc, and farewelled us in Kyoto, was very pleasant company, unobtrusive and yet always there when needed! It was great having someone so fluent in Japanese as well as English; a plus point was the good sense of humour! We'll have no hesitation recommending Dragonfly Tours to our family and friends (who incidentally, loved all the fabulous presents we brought back!)
If you're looking for a friendly, relaxed introduction to Japan and its culture then I can wholeheartedly recommend Dragonfly Tours.
Lucy and Brad
We would like to thank Russ and Akiko for contributing to the fabulous time we had on the Heartland tour. Japan is amazing, the sights, the food and the culture is like nowhere else we have ever visited. Thanks to the team for making our trip so much fun and so trouble free. We will never forget Kyoto. The highlight for me was the geisha district. Then after an action packed day the luxury of a delicious green tea ice cream was just what we needed to revive us. Our only regret is that we didn’t have time to see sumo.We look forward to seeing you again.
Raymond and Andrea Paine
Hey Russ, Just a note to say how much we appreciated the effort you put into our time out there. Looking forward to coming again next year! Good luck with the kanji!
Rob and Judy Mutch
A big thanks to Yayoi for showing us a fantastic time. Please pass our email address to her, we’d love to know what happened after the fireworks festival.
Herbert and Valerie
Hi Russ and Yayoi, I would like to thank you and the team for helping make our trip to Japan a holiday of a lifetime. The Heartland tour, although busy, completely lived up to our expectations and introduced us to many new experiences. Our Grandchildren love looking at the photos. They were very impressed to see that Grandma and Granddad had slept on the floor on Futons. They laughed when they saw our red faces after our soak in the onsen dressed in the yukatas. Keep up the good work
Dan and Jen Bennet
Please pass our kind regards to Akiko. What a laugh we had with her! She blows all stereotypes out of the water. Good times.
Ancient Highway Tour
Konnichiwa! Genki? Thanks for the great time we had, I’ll never forget that time I cracked up on the train. We certainly got some funny looks, but of all the wonderful sites we saw I’ll never forget all those suited business men on the underground reading comic books. I don't know how many times I’ve told the story now, but no one ever really gets it. Guess you had to have been there. Thanks a lot.
Hi just writing to thank you for an excellent time. When Jane first mentioned about going to Japan, as you know I wasn’t overly enthusiastic, especially in regards to the food, the cornerstone of any holiday. But as you said, there is more to Japanese cuisine than raw fish and noodles. Thanks for all your effort, Kobe Beef rocks! Thanks.