For me it was surprising how you were able to lead our large group of mixed ages and high expectations. You kept us fully engaged both individually and as a group. Your excellent local knowledge and organization skills meant that we could relax and enjoy the ride. There are many examples of how you went the extra mile for us e.g. making sure we were safely checked in at the airport when you could have farewelled us at Tokyo station.
I like that we were welcomed like old friends into Ryokan and were able to quickly embrace Japanese traditions like tottering through the snow in yukata to the local onsen and eating fish cooked on skewers over embers. Karaoke was so much better when shared with your friends who love to dance. Some of the more memorable moments were observing the high school Sumo team training and the local festival where men were hoisted into the air. Without you we would not have been able to link so seamlessly with warm, hardworking local people and quintessential Japanese community life.
Why have I not yet mentioned the skiing? Well as you know I was not very confident about my knee so was going at a much reduced pace. I did like it a lot that you provided some ski lessons and tips to try out at low speed. It has whetted my appetite for more skiing. Beforehand I thought that my skiing days may have almost been over.
I thought that your choice of stop overs during our tour of Southern Honshu were excellent in their variety, interest and exceptional quality. From small neigbourhood streets to magnificent gardens, temples and a castle, we could not have fitted more into our 20,000 steps. In two short weeks, I touched and was touched by the ambience of Japan and it leaves me with many warm memories and thankfulness for your part in unleashing it's mysteries.
A big thank you from me and on behalf of the the wider group. - Jan