I'm going with my younger sister and her husband. I usually travel with her as everybody else I know can't afford to travel like we do. Actually I'm leaving for Japan on May 8th. We booked the flight ourselves. We usually don't book hotels so we rented an apartment in the center of Akihabara aka Electric Town. If you're not afraid of the different culture and language, then by all means avoid the tour group as you can leisurely do things at your own pace. I like to visit the tourist spots but I do enjoy more going to places that people usually don't frequent. If you think you'd have a hard time or too shy to interact with the locals you might as well get book a tour group.