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Supplier: M05672

Born in the UK and raised in the United States, I’ve made my home in Kyoto since 1992. Since moving here, I’ve spent over a decade studying the Japanese language and culture. In 1995 I started working as a Regional Correspondent for The Japan Times, a national English-language newspaper published in Tokyo. In 1996 I started writing for Lonely Planet Guidebooks and since then I have worked on 18 guidebooks to Japan, Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiking in Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Victoria, and Asia & India.

Like most of Lonely Planet’s readers, I’m an inveterate traveler. I’ve traveled widely in North America, Europe, Asia and South America. My true passion is hiking and climbing and I’ve climbed in the Rockies, the Alps, the Japan Alps, the Himalayas and the Patagonian Andes. I’m also a keen diver and snorkeler, and my idea of heaven is floating over a coral reef somewhere in south-east Asia. While Kyoto is my home these days, in the past I’ve lived in New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne, and Tokyo. I’ve also spent long periods of time in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Paris.

I have lived in Kyoto for over ten years and have traveled widely throughout Japan and the rest of Asia. I have been leading tours of Kyoto and Japan for several years, and started my own tour company at the beginning of 2005. I speak and read Japanese fluently and I am an expert on all aspects of Japanese culture. When I’m not traveling, I enjoy seeking out new restaurants, bars and hot springs in and around Kyoto.
Questions and Answers
I provide guided tours in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kyoto.

1. How long has the business been operating and how did it start?

I started the business in 2005. It was a natural outgrowth of my work as a writer for Lonely Planet Guidebooks. I have been based in Japan since 1992, so I know the country extremely well. Also, I spend a lot of time each year in Hong Kong and Thailand, so it was natural to expand my business to these countries.

2. What is your company's mission?

Simply put, my company's mission is to allow travelers to really get inside a country. We want to be like a savvy friend in each of the cities in which we operate - someone who takes you to the secret places only locals know (as well as, of course, a few of the famous sites). Our tours are strictly private: we don't think that going around by bus with a group of 30 strangers is a good way to get to know a country. We also offer travel consulting for people who want to plan really special trips, but don't want to be tied to a group tour. We offer personal and attentive service that few if any travel agents can provide.

3. What does your company specialize in?

Our company specializes in small private tours of Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara etc), Bangkok, Hong Kong and Macau. We also specialize in personalized trip planning and consulting. We can do anything from arranging geisha entertainment in Kyoto to finding the best street food in Bangkok.

4. Who is the founder or owner of the company and briefly describe his/her past activities?

The founder of Chris Rowthorn Tours is Chris Rowthorn. Chris was born in the UK and raised in the United States. He moved to Japan in 1992. Initially, he worked as a reporter for the Japan Times, then he became a writer for Lonely Planet guidebooks in 1995. He has written guides on Japan, Borneo, Malaysia, the Philippines, Victoria (Australia) and he even coordinated one edition of Lonely Planet's famous "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" guide (the so-called "Yellow Bible"). Chris also wrote a book in Japanese with one of his Japanese guides about the philosophy and practice of guiding. It explains our philosophy of guiding, which can be summed up in two expressions: "heart of service" and "sense of wonder."

5. What is your most popular travel package and why?

Our most popular tours are our Classic Southern Higashiyama Walk in Kyoto. This walk takes in some of the city's most famous sites, but it also includes a lot of secret spots. Our main Hong Kong Walking Tour is also popular for the same reasons: it covers some of the city's famous spots, but it also includes some great backstreets.

6. What is the best compliment you received from a client?

"My wife and I just returned from our trip to Hong Kong and I wanted to provide feedback on the tours that were guided by Jim. We have experienced guides from tours throughout Europe and Japan and I am pleased to tell you that Jim is in a class by himself. His in-depth knowledge of the history, culture and points of interest are eclipsed only by his genuine enthusiasm for satisfying the interests of his clients. He is a consumate professional. Our entire party, which included both a chairman and a CEO of a global NYSE company, are in complete agreement with this assessment. I will follow-up with AMEX concierge service to ensure they are also aware of how pleased we are with the quality of your organization."

Reviews and Comments
No. Rating By / Subject

 1  bruce tuffli / left us high and dry
Our group of 5 had a tour scheduled with Chris in Hong Kong on March of 2012. We had reserved it months in advance and everything was in place and confirmed for march 22. Imagine my horror when, completely out of the blue, I received the following note from Chris on march 4: "I am sincerely sorry to inform you that, due to a completely unforeseen circumstance, the guide for your tour has become unavailable. Unfortunately, we do not have another guide to cover your tour on that day." Chris went on to ... view more give us the names of a few other companies who might be able to provide tours. Due to the lateness of the notice, none of those companies were available, and we wound up without a guide in Hong Kong. In my opinion, Chris should have taken it upon himself to find us a guide, but did not. I obviously cannot recommend Chris, and would caution anyone who has a tour scheduled with him to hope that it goes as planned.

 2  Claire Brunegraff / Verified User Review
I would rate them a 10 in all areas. We had a great time, and our guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and best of all spoke perfect English.

 3  Wanda Jackson / Verified User Review
Not only was Chris Rowthorn's group very quick to respond to our request months ago, but they offer a fantastic product. We returned from Japan a few weeks ago, and we used Rowthorn guides in both Tokyo and Kyoto. I can't recommend them highly enough.

I will use their guide services again if I return to Japan!

 4  Anne-Francoise Wauthy / Verified User Review
Would recommend Them any time.

 5  Charles Budveit / Verified User Review
Kay was a wonderful tour guide - he customized the day and the knowledge he gave us to what we were interested in. We have a great day and there would have been no way for us to figure
out how to see everything we saw without him. He was so nice and hospitable - we have given his business card to our company - which
frequently has guests in from other countries. They are going to be calling him again in the future to set up additional tours.

 6  Claudia Roux / Verified User Review
Chris Rowthorn's Walks and Tours was very good. My family enjoyed the
private tour of Tokyo.

 7  Eleanor Shen / Verified User Review
We have 2 guides for 2 half day tours. Both are fantastic and really enriched our experience in Kyoto.

 8  Alison Dokerty / Verified User Review
All my dealings with Chris Rowthorn's Walking Tours were prompt and free of
problems. The actual walking tour was really excellent.Jim Kushner, the
guide, was a local of 30 years (as their add says)He took us to some really
interesting and different places to cater for the fact that some in our
group had never been to Hong Kong but a couple had been there a number of
times. Score 10!

 9  Emily Gorman / Chris Rowthorn's Tours of Tokyo
The guide that showed us around Tokyo was so lovely and knowledgeable. We enjoyed meeting her! I would recommend a private tour Chris Rowthorn because the guides are knowledge and very lovely, however be very, very clear what you want to get out the day and make sure you get it.

Thank you,
Emily Gorman

 10  Coco Hall / Verified User Review
My guide, Austin Bush in Bangkok, was charming. An American who speaks fluent Thai and is a professional travel photographer and writer, he took me on three tours crafted to my wishes. Thanks to him, I completely enjoyed my stay in Bangkok!

 11  Shelley Schanfield / Verified User Review
I was one hundred percent totally satisfied with Chris Rowthorn's guides for our tours of Kyoto and Tokyo. They were knowledgeable, personable, and showed us more that we could have ever discovered on our own.

 12  Mauna Berkov / Verified User Review
I would not hesitate to use the same tour guide and would most definitely refer anyone traveling to Kyoto or other areas of Japan to him without hesitation. There is nothing I could suggest to improve the quality of the service as it was topnotch! It was superb and I would very highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Japan!!

 13  Lane Pederson / Verified User Review
The best!!!

 14  Laura Schy / Verified User Review
The company was fantastic! I am a travel agent and I have highly recommended this service to my co-workers. It was exactly what I was
looking for and the prices were very fair. The guides were on time, knowledgeable, personable and rate a 10 on everything.

 15  Anna Rosow / Verified User Review
We were extremely pleased with our two tours with Chris Rowthorn's Walks and Tours. My husband and I would definitely rate them a "10" in all four categories. Our guide, Koko, was great: adapting the tours to our interests, answering our questions intelligently, and helping us negotiate the train to the airport. I will definitely use them again.