Excellent! This tour is a must to begin to understand the various elements of Japanese gardens, Highly recommended no matter how many gardens you have.seen before. Andrew was a highly knowledgeable and engaging guide. The walking level was easy, and pace relaxed, with the benefit of seeing a variety of gardens. This was the best guided tour we have done. H&L Sydney Australia
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Helen for your kind words. I had a wonderful time with you both at Nanzen-ji. I wish you all the best and hope you have many enjoyable travels in future. I have a feeling you might be back, so if you ever are, please get in touch!
Christopher CondonUnited States
This tour is a gem. It was the highlight of our Japan trip. The subject matter is compelling the individual sites are awe-striking, and Arishiyama is magical. In between the being amazed by your physical surroundings, Andrew does an excellent job of educating you about the things you are seeing in an interesting and subtle way. As a result, you learn a tremendous amount without even really noticing. Andrew is great. Arishiyama is great. Take the tour. P.S. Say "yes" to amazake at Hiranoya.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much for your very kind words. I am so glad to hear how much you and your family enjoyed Arashiyama. You are totally correct when you say that Arashiyama is a magical place. It was an absolute pleasure to spend the time with you all as we did and by the end I felt we had known each other much longer than just the 8 hours we were together. I wish you all the best!
Rob ReifUnited States
This is a unique view of Kyoto which is much more than a garden tour. You will leave with a much better appreciation of gardens in Kyoto but you will also be exposed to and learn about: Samurais, dragons, emperors, history, alphabets, Geishas, water, spotted tigers, red pines, moss, zen, cemeteries, cranes, turtles, granite, dappled light, small slippers and if you are lucky, little Leo's..
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Rob. I was very happy to spend time with you both at Nanzen-ji and share a bit about the Japanese garden. Have a wonderful rest of your trip in Asia!
Hester BlackburnSouth Africa
This is an excellent tour visiting both the more secluded and popular spots in Arashiyama. It is an easy walk with some good traditional shops thrown in along the way. The bonus is that Andrew is a landscape architect and could also teach us about the symbolism of Japanese gardens! Being born in the USA and living in Japan, he could also give us objective insight into the Japanese way of life. Andrew is very knowledgeable and we share many of his views. We loved the time we spent with him!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you Hester! I very much enjoyed our time together in Arashiyama. Although we only spent the day together by the end I felt as if we had known eachother much longer. I wish you and your family all the best, and again, congratulations on winning the Rugby World Cup!
Aileen GuralUnited States
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Aileen. I had a great afternoon with you and Richard. I could feel that Kyoto really matches you both very well. I hope you can make it back here in the future. Take care!
Benjamin KutnerUnited States
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Benjamin for your kind rating. I had a very nice time with you and your friends and am so glad I could show you the quieter side of Arashiyama. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your time in Japan and that your foot recovers soon!
TOURSBYLOCALS RESPONSE: ToursByLocals is committed to 5-Star tour experiences and we appreciate any learning opportunity to improve the quality of the service we offer our customers. We take all feedback seriously and have, as always, attempted to clarify with our customer why this tour experience appears to have fallen below our guides’ normal high standards.
Ted DiamondUnited States
The Zen Garden tour was exactly what we had hoped for. Andrew has the background, knowledge and passion for for garden design that helped us to appreciate the beauty of Kyoto gardens in a way we could have never done on our own. His knowledge of Zen Buddhism and the connection of this to gardening added immeasurably to our experience and actually brought tears to my eyes during one perfect moment. I can not recommend him highly enough!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Ted. I had a great time in the gardens with you and Robin. The time seemed to go by slowly and so quickly at the same. I wish you well on your hiking trek around Japan and I’m looking forward to seeing your garden pics!
Paula Misaki VincentUnited States
Our experience with Andrew on the walking Arashiyama tour could not have been any better. We had a wonderful time exploring off-the-beaten-path sites, learning all about them and their histories, finding small local venues, and learning about the culture - things you might not normally learn about unless you speak to a local. Most of all, we had fun and absolutely loved him. No question that when I return, I'll be looking to take more tours with Andrew.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Paula! I had such a nice time with you in Arashiyama. It was such a quiet morning and the weather seemed perfect. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed and hope we can meet up again in Kyoto as there are so many other sites that I would like to bring you to. Take care until then!
This is a unique experience by a guide who is both a professional landscaper and a veteran in Japan with deep understanding of Zen philosophy. This is one of the areas that a guide is essential. Suddenly seemingly random placing of stones and plants acquire a much deeper meaning. Highly recommended!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Shai for your kind words. It was so nice to visit the gardens with you both. I could really feel you connected with the spaces in such a beautiful way. I wish you all the best and am glad we could meet in Kyoto.
Andrew is great! To be honest we were hesitant about having an American guide us through Kyoto but our day with Andrew was one of the highlights of our holiday. He is very knowledgeable about Japan's history, architecture, culture, religion and of course gardens. What we learnt from him enhanced the rest of our holiday and allowed us to appreciate the other temples and gardens we visited. He was flexible and accommodating of the needs of our children and took us off the beaten path and away from crowds.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Andrew! I had a wonderful time with you and your beautiful family here in Kyoto. I hope you guys are able to come back to Kyoto one day and that we can meet again. Take care and all the best in this new year!
Kyoto can be overwhelming without the right guide to steer you beyond the crowds & the tyranny of the "top five" — Andrew was that guide for us. What an amazing day! His passion & knowledge ensured we saw the best of Kyoto while learning about its history, landscapes & architecture. He managed the impossible, allowing us to understand and then quietly contemplate the peace and tranquility of Zen gardens. I wish we booked him on our first day - we appreciated Kyoto so much more after our day together.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Stephanie. It was truly my pleasure to spend the day with you and your mom as we did. I wish we could have had much more time together. I hope the rest of your holiday in Japan is wonderful and that you can come back some time in the future! Best wishes!
We very much enjoyed Andrew's tour of some of the important zen gardens at Nanzen-Ji. It was great to have a guide who really appreciates the sights he shows himself. Andrew is passionate and very knowledgeable about Japanese gardens. It is a pity we could only do a half-day tour with him, we would have loved to learn more. Take this tour if you want to avoid the cross and still get the best of Japanese garden culture!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you very much for your kind words Christof. It was a pleasure to spend the morning in the gardens as we did. I hope you make it back to Japan and are able to see more of the wonderful art that this country has to offer. I wish you all best!
Christo E.South Africa
Our best tour whilst in Japan. Andrew was fantastic and also ensured that our teenage kids were included and engaged. Highly recommended.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much for your kind words Christo. It was a great pleasure to spend time with you and your family and I am very glad I could be part of a wonderful memory from your time in Japan. I wish you all the best!
Matthew DavisUnited States
Andrew was really perfect for me and my son's day in Kyoto. Being an American in Kyoto with an artistic passion for landscape design and the history and culture behind it made for a good match. His English was obviously spot on and as he has been a student of the history and culture for 10 years was very well versed on the details behind every one of our "why" questions. I was most impressed with the places he took us that were the hidden jems only a local would know.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so Matt. I was an awesome, HOT day with you guys. I'm really glad I could show you some of my favorite in spots in Kyoto. If you ever make it back to Kyoto with the fam please look me up:)
Christian FongUnited States
Andrew's tour is mandatory if you are visiting Kyoto. Without him, we would've just been looking at a bunch of gravel and rocks. With him, we had a window into the philosophy underlying Zen Buddhism, a brief dive into an obscure but fascinating part of Japanese history, and an unexpected lesson in shrine economics. Even if I had paid twice as much as I did, I would feel this way your was well worth it.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Christian:) I really enjoyed the time we spent in the gardens together. I am so glad I could share some insights into Japanese gardens and help make your time in Kyoto a memorable one. I wish you both many enjoyable and safe travels in the future!
Andrew took us on a customized tour to see some of Kyoto's beautiful gardens and temples. Not only did we manage to avoid the big groups of people you'll find around the 'regular' spots, it gave us the opportunity to dive into the deeper meaning of the gardens and the temples. I recommend Andrew full-heartedly if you're really interested in the Japanese culture and don't like to settle for the obvious tourist spots....
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Didier! I'm glad we could work our timing out with both our schedules. I could feel you both were really moved by what we saw in the gardens, and I’m always glad to spend moments like that with my guests. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay in Japan. Please say thank you to Tim for me. I wish you all the best!
Charity AbracosaUnited States
Andrew is the guide if you want to see a different side of Kyoto that is not flocked by tourists. Walking the roads of Arashiyama, visiting temples, eating at a local place, learning about Japan and its culture through his lens and eyes have been a great experience for us. We can't recommend him enough the next time your trip takes you to Kyoto.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you for your very kind review Charity! I had a great time showing you and your family some of Kyoto's beautiful but lesser known sites in Arashiyama. I wish you and your family all the best and many fun and safe travels in the future! It seems like there could be a chance you find yourself in Kyoto again..if that happens please get in touch!
Wilson ChoyUnited States
I decided upon this tour based on what I wanted, which was to see some beautiful sights along a walk. The tour with Andrew was phenomenal. More than what I expected, especially on a rainy day. He gave incredible insite about the history, the culture and the context of Japan's history. We delved into the philosophy of Buddhism. I would almost call Andrew a "Zen Master". The weather gave us an incredible back drop while walking along this incredible mountain pass. It was beautiful and spiritual!!!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Wilson for your kind words. It was an awsome day with you in Arashiyama. I really could feel how you were touched by the places we visited. As you mentioned, the rain provided the perfect atmosphere for us to get deep into our surroundings. I hope the rest of your trip in Asia was a success!
David HughesUnited Kingdom
Andrew's tour of Arashyama and the surrounding area was fantastic! He has such a deep knowledge of Japanese history and Zen culture and took us to some incredible shrines and temples leading us down the mountain. Our journey was incredibly quiet and away from other tourists, couldn't recommend enough to see the real Kyoto!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much David. I am so glad I could show you both through one of my favorite parts of Kyoto. It was so nice to spend the time as we did in Arashiyama. It seems as if your work may bring you back to the area in future. If you find yourself here in Kyoto again please get in touch!
Trae WilliamsUnited States
Andrew's tour was easily one of the highlights of our trip. Kyoto is an amazing city with many famous landmarks, temples and shrines. But if you want to see some incredibly special sights that are off the beaten path - with no crowds, hawkers, or food stalls - and gain a more in depth understanding of Kyoto and Japanese culture - I highly recommend this tour. Andrew clearly has dedicated himself to being one of Kyoto's best guides. He knows his stuff. And is also just a really nice guy to hang out with.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Trae. It was such a nice, relaxing day we spent in Arashiyama. It felt so good to get away from the crowds and spend time slowing in the foothills. I wish you and your family all the best and hope our paths cross again:)
Gary DansieUnited States
Andrew was amazing. He was flexible to meet our unusual schedule and adjusted the itinerary to meet our group's interests. We especially enjoyed the combination of walking, taxi, and trains instead of a boring tour bus. He explained the cultural subtleties in a way that we could understand and appreciate. Every minute was a great conversation. We wish that he could be with us for our entire Japanese adventure. If you are looking for a great experience, schedule your time with Andrew.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you Gary! I’m so glad we could work out a tour even though we had such a late start. I think what we saw could really give you a good idea of Kyoto in such a short time. It was really nice to get to know you and your family. And thank you so much dinner! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves now on the cruise!
Ruben DanielsUnited States
We highly recommend Andrew! He showed us some temples and gardens that we would not have visited otherwise and are less touristic; we were the only ones there most of the time! Andrew was very kind, shared a lot of amazing knowledge and really helped us to have more insight into Japanese culture and history and the way things are expressed in gardens. We felt very grateful to have found him. Highly recommend
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Ruben. I really enjoyed spending the time together as we did. You really have such a beautiful family. I wish you all the best for all the endeavors you have going on. Safe travels!
The Descending Arashiyama Tour was the highlight of our trip to Kyoto without which it would probably have been less rewarding and possibly more of a tourist trap The scenery temples and gardens were all beautiful sights and our experience was enhanced by Andrews knowledgeable and experienced guiding giving us insight into the history culture geography and craftsmanship and design of the various temples gardens and parks We highly recommend this tour and Andrews expert guidance Olof & Cia Sweden
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: It was absolutely my pleasure Olof and Cia! The time seemed to fly by as well strolled down the mountain into town. I could feel how moved you were by what we saw and I am always so happy to spend such moments with my guests. Whenever you look at your Daruma statue I hope you think of me :) I wish you all the best!
We choose this tour because it fitted almost perfectly our own plans to visit the tempel area around Daitokuji. And we couldn't have make a better choice. Andrew went above and beyond to ensure we learned enough about Japanese gardens and Zen-Buddism. He even changed the tour to fit our interest more and so we saw nice tempel gardens away from the tourist area. Non native speaker will have an easy time to follow Andrews explanations. (even my friend with over 12 years out of school could understand him.)
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much for the wonderful day in the Zen day. It was really interesting to be able to compare and contrast the gardens of Nanzenji and Daitokuji. As we saw- they are really quite different! It was my pleasure to spend the time as we did and I wish you all the best!
Maurice B.New Zealand
We are a family of five (2 teenage daughters and a 10 year old son) and we had a wonderful tour with Andrew. He tailored the tour to suit our needs and he is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Japanese history and gardens. Recommend and we will book Andrew next time we are in Kyoto.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Maurice. It was so nice to spend the morning with you and your beautiful family. The time in the gardens seemed to fly by. I am looking forward to spending time with you again in Kyoto. All the best!
Andrew's understanding of the planning and making of Zen landscapes helped us grasp the richness of the philosophy. And also the tremendous hardwork, sensitivity and technique that goes into cultivating and maintaining the gardens. Tour was planned well allowing our group which also had a senior citizen to walk the various gardens at a pace which allowed us to appreciate the views and settings. If one wants to go beyond the beaten touristy track to appreciate the gardens in Kyoto, then this tour is a must
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Batul:) I really enjoyed the time we spent in the gardens together. I am so glad I could share some insights into Japanese gardens and help make your time in Kyoto a memorable one. I wish you many enjoyable and safe travels in the future!
Andrew is a fantastic guide, helpful, quick to response for questions and very flexible to meet your specific needs (helped us to make a customized tour for Kyoto). Very nice person, great to talk to and learn from his knowledge. Born in the US, but married to a Japanese girl, living in Japan for many years, makes him understand and 'translate' to you both cultures and worlds, w/wife and teens we all learned a lot from him. His knowledge of plants make garden visits a completely different experience.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Paco for your very kind words. It was great getting to know you and your family. You kids are absolutely wonderful. By the end of the day I felt as if we all had known each other for much longer. It was a pleasure showing you some of my favorite places in Kyoto and mixing in a couple fun activities for the kids. Take care and I hope you have many great family excursions in the future!
Lisa BrownUnited States
A dream guide! We felt so fortunate. It was nice to have someone who was also an American but has lived in Japan for a long time as our guide. Andrew not only knew about local history, gardens, temples and more, he was also excellent at explaining the culture to us. His tour of Arashiyama was outstanding. We experienced so many excellent sites that I'm sure we would never have found on our own. I only wish we could have done another of his tours! Next trip for sure! You won't be disappointed!
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much Lisa, you all were dream guests! It is so nice to spend time with like-minded folks who are really interested in the culture here. I’m really sorry our schedules didn’t work out to do another tour while you were here. Next time! Until then!
‘I don’t know, a western guide for a Japanese tour?’ with Andrew, for sure. Don’t let the small number of reviews put you off. We have had many tour guides over the years and Andrew ranks with the best. He communicates clearly, accommodating and flexible but most importantly you will be left with a feeling that you have made an emotional connection with Japan. He has a deep understanding of the of Japanese culture. And then if you want to go antique shopping or to find a place for dinner Andrew’s the guy.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you so much for your kind words. What a wonderful time we had in the rain. The gardens really came alive right before us. I am so happy to have shared that moment and I hope we can do it again sometime. Please enjoy the rest of your time in Japan!
Esteban ReyesUnited States
Andrew was such a amazing guide. He has unbelievable knowledge of Kyoto history, its landmarks and architecture. My wife and I were tele-transported in time when listening to Andrew's stories about old Japan. Totally recommend him.
TOUR GUIDE RESPONSE: Thank you for your very kind review Esteban! I had a great time showing you and Paola some of Kyoto's beautiful but lesser known sites during the sakura season. I wish you and your family all the best and many fun and safe travels in the future!