Staff

David

Many people are surprised to learn I studied mathematics at university before going to Japan to learn Japanese. They say it seems like a total change of direction.

Travel became a passion at university and I had always wanted to learn a language 'properly'. I found Japanese to be very logical and the 'kanji' characters give the language another dimension which is not possible in European languages.

Thirteen years on, it is always a thrill to go back and I love that my job allows me to do that at least four times a year. It has been especially rewarding to show others the exotic culture, tradition and sheer excitement of Japan. I am always reminded of my amazement and bewilderment when I first arrived. I really look forward to helping you plan your trip and possibly escorting you on a tour.

If I were pushed to choose a favourite place in Japan it would probably be Mount Aso. I think the thrill of seeing an active volcano is easy to understand coming from somewhere where it is so foreign. Yet the awesome panoramic views of the caldera and the mountains beyond simply take your breath away.

My favourite Japanese experience is the outdoor hot springs. There is nothing to compare with dipping in and out of these pools surrounded by the bracing air and Japanese garden complete with bonsai trees. I have been known to spend hours there (when I am not a group escort!).

When it comes to food, sashimi (raw fish) has got to be the best of Japanese cuisine although sukiyaki (a kind of sweet soy sauce flavour beef hotpot) is hard to beat in the winter. I have to admit it took a while for me to like sashimi but now I love the simplicity, freshness and vividness of the flavours.

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Tomomi

I was born in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan and famous for funny and friendly people and delicious local foods.

I love to travel. Whenever I visit foreign countries, I am always impressed with the beauty of the towns, buildings and the atmosphere. These are totally different from Japan.

But Japan also has a lot of beautiful and interesting places. Japan is a small country, but you can enjoy many kinds of experiences and delicious local foods in each place you visit.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Japan!!

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Robin

I returned to the UK in 2007 after spending 15 years living and teaching English in the city of Gifu in central Japan.

Having spent a third of my life living there, I’m now happy to be able to share my knowledge and love of this fascinating country with our clients.

My favourite place in Japan is probably anywhere upstream on the Nagara River, where the crystal clear water in the mountains forms rockpools that are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day!

Foodwise, I pretty much love it all and encourage you to try as much as possible and to be adventurous in Japan – make the most of your time there!

I look forward to talking to you and helping you plan the trip of a lifetime!

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Guillaume

I've worked for several years as journalist specializing in the Middle East and Asia and been editor of magazines specializing in health and Asia. I've also been a tour guide for French travel agencies.

I'm now based in the Oxford office and I do my best to help the European travel agents.

Here are some experiences in Japan I recommend: biking in the isolated Amakusa islands, western Kyushu; hiking in the Shiretoko peninsula in Hokkaido (but be careful of the bears!) and walking in the peaceful atmosphere in Hagi, southern Honshu.

My favourite foods are the Japanese gyoza, the vegetarian meals in the temples of Koyasan sacred mountain, and the aboriginal rice served in some Taiwanese restaurants in Japan.

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Naomi

I was born in Japan and started learning English when I was at junior school. Some of my relatives emigrated to the US before the war so I have many relatives there and have visited many times.

When I was in Japan I took the travel qualification required to establish a travel business. There is no equivalent in the UK but this knowledge has been extremely useful in understanding how the travel industry works in Japan. In 2002 I decided to come to England and I was interested to discover the differences between the UK and US. I really enjoyed it and decided to stay. I still visit Japan at least once a year.

My favourite place in Japan is Hokkaido, the most northern island. Hokkaido is less populated than the main island and the countryside is magnificent. The winter is a particularly good time to visit; the skiing is spectacular. Last time I was there, we went to the top of an active volcano and we could see steam coming out of the snow.

My favourite Japanese foods are yakitori (barbequed chicken on skewers), tempura (lightly fried battered king prawns etc.), sashimi (raw fish!) and especially Kobe beef sukiyaki (lightly cooked beef dipped in raw egg). But you have to eat them in Japan, because the Japanese restaurants here in the UK don't quite manage to get them right. I would also recommend Japanese beer, especially Sapporo black beer.

My favourite activity in Japan is going to an onsen (hot volcanic baths). I find there's nothing more relaxing than enjoying one with friends, before a proper Japanese traditional feast.

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Megumi

I took my undergraduate degree in Law but moved towards education, spending several years as an English teacher and instructor in Japan before doing a masters degree in education at London University. I have been a tour conductor for 4 years and I have continued this work while also acting as a consultant for Japanese students wishing to enter the UK education system.

Nikko is my favourite place; water falls, marshlands, streams, and the authentic hot spring baths all inside the National Park. It also has the Toshogu Temple with all its great history, and a particularly old and famous hotel where the Japanese Royal Family often stay.

Gyoza is my favourite Japanese food. It is like a small dumpling with juicy meat and vegetables inside.
For me the best experience in Japan is the hot spring baths. This is best enjoyed after a day cycling in the mountains and a traditional lunchbox.

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Hermione

Having spent two years teaching English in Miyakonojo, Kyushu and a further year and a half studying in Tokyo, I am happy to have the chance to work for a company which allows me to share my passion and encourage others to see the beauty of Japan for themselves.

While living in Japan I travelled as widely as possible, but my favourite place is definitely Nagasaki. Rich with history and surrounded by mountains and the sea, Nagasaki has a wonderful atmosphere and unique culture. Most tourists do not venture outside Honshu and this is something I would love to see change as there are so many fantastic places on the smaller islands.

Being a vegetarian in Japan can be difficult, but there are still many delicious things to try. I would recommend tendon (tempura on a bowl of rice) and okonomiyaki as particularly good options since you can choose what is included at many restaurants.

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Louis

Though I was born in the UK, I lived in Montreal and was educated in French until secondary school, at which point I moved back to the UK. Being bilingual has fostered in me a love of languages; I enjoy learning how and why languages can be so different from each other, though I rarely learn more than the bare basics. I began studying Japanese in much the same way; I started taking evening classes in the language when I was 17. This initially casual hobby eventually grew into much more than that, and led me to take a degree in Japanese and English literature.

I spent a year living in Japan, studying the language and travelling the country whenever I could. One of my favourite places in Japan is Kamikochi, a remarkably well-preserved historical resort in the Japan Alps. Kamikochi is famous for the crystal clear waters of the Azusa River which run through it and the scenic mountain views which surround visitors to this relatively untouched part of the world.

Though I love almost all Japanese food, I would recommend eating Okonomiyaki, a savoury Japanese pancake topped with sweet sticky sauce, at least once. Restaurants serving this delicious dish often allow you to cook it on a hotplate embedded in your table, which is a surprisingly fun way to spend an evening in good company.

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Matthew

I knew very little about Japan until I decided to go there as an adventure at the age of eighteen, and the year I spent there really changed my life. When I came back to the UK I took a university degree in Japanese, and in one way or another part of me has been in Japan ever since.

I have lived there for a total of four years now, two in Nagoya and two in Nagasaki. Nagasaki in particular is a very interesting destination for a visitor - the history and culture that you can’t find elsewhere in Japan make it truly unique. Not many people venture down to Kyushu as part of their tours, but I'd love to change that, because Nagasaki and the surrounding areas are well worth it!

Even for those who want to stick to the main island of Honshu, I would still recommend at least a day or two off the beaten track. A lot of the well known sights are in the big cities, but 80% of Japan is covered in sparsely populated mountains. For me the combination of a cooler climate, stunning views, natural hot springs and some light hiking opportunities made places like Takayama or Karuizawa a favourite retreat while I was living in the country, and they are in very accessible central locations. Japan’s heart may be in Kyoto, but I think its soul is up in the mountains.

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Yuko

I am Yuko from Fukuoka which is in the north of Kyushu Island. I have been here in the UK since April 2003. When I was in Japan, I worked at a travel agency for 3 years, as a tour coordinator, tour conductor and doing counter sales as well.

The reason why I came to the UK is to study English and Accounting. I realised when I started living abroad that Japan has a unique culture and I like it very much. I like travelling to experience different cultures and eat traditional food. I would like to recommend you all to visit Japan to experience Japanese culture and to eat excellent Japanese food, such as Sushi, Sukiyaki, Japanese hot pots and Ramen!!

There is a popular and well known ramen in Fukuoka called Tonkotsu ramen. If you ever have a chance to visit Fukuoka, you should try it!

I am delighted to work for Into Japan here in Tokyo.

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Akiko

I was born in Tokyo but I grew up in the countryside. When I was 18 years old I came back to live in Tokyo.

I like art very much and my hobby is painting. I studied art and Italian in Italy, then returned to Japan to take the travel qualifications required to start a career in the travel industry. I now feel lucky to be able to work in an international company. I respect the cultures and traditions of all countries and it is my pleasure to help our clients learn more about Japanese culture and traditions.

We are waiting for you in Japan and we hope you have a great experience in Japan!

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Ai

I was born between a Kyushu (southern island) father and a Tohoku (northern mainland) mother, but brought up in a Tokyo suburb..

One hour away from central Tokyo, my childhood memory is actually filled with the scent of the forests in which we used to catch cool beetles in summer and make a huge bed of fallen leaves in autumn. (Still, I call myself a Tokyo girl!)

As a university student I travelled a lot in foreign countries, yet at the same time as I fell in love with European countries, I also started becoming more interested in my own country. Even the fact that we take off our shoes and put them very neatly at the door started to seem to be a worth-discussing theme to me! Then I came to the UK to study Japanese social anthropology and afterwards worked as a newspaper journalist in Nagasaki, Japan.

Now in Oxford again, I realise how iwonderful it is to experience different worlds. It has expanded my perspective and I hope your trip to Japan will give you such an excitement. And, of course, I would be honoured if I could be of help in planning your trip.

In addition to the must-see sites and popular food such as sushi (Nagasaki is a wonderful place if you want real, local, surprisingly-affordable, fabulous sushi!), ramen, shabushabu and so on, if you fancy a little bit of adventure, I would recommend you to try getting lost in a local Shoten-gai (shopping street) or a little bar in a rural part of Japan, and communicating with its people - there is little chance that you'll find a fluent speaker of English, but I can assure you that you'll find them nice and welcoming!

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Yurie

I was born and raised in Gunma Prefecture, which is famous for Onsen (hot springs). Like most Japanese people, I love onsen!

One of my favourite places is Fukiware Falls in Gunma; it's known as the Niagara Falls of Japan. It's a very beautiful sight deep in a rock valley and is especially beautiful during the Autumn colours.

Japan has a lot of onsen, and the nature of the hot springs varies from region to region. I love traveling and visiting open air bath hot spring baths. This experience would definitely be an enjoyable part of your trip to Japan so I recommend it !

For food, I like Japanese traditional Kaiseki dinners, yakitori and different kinds of tempura and soba, the sort of food which makes for a healthy life..

I think that Japan has many interesting and beautiful places to visit and I look forward to welcoming you to my country!

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Yu

I spent about 4.5 years living in New York and now regularly go to Canada to visit my family-in-law. I like living and traveling abroad very much but my heart and soul will always be here in Japan. I appreciate how lucky I am to be able to live in this beautiful country.

I am originally from Okayama prefecture in the western part of Japan, near Hiroshima. Okayama is famous for Koraku-en garden (one of Japan’s “top-three” gardens), Okayama castle, Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, Onsen, Bizen Pottery and amazing “Setouchi” food, such as fresh fish and fruits. It is not the most popular destination for foreign tourists, but if you like a real authentic Japanese experience, Okayama could be at the top of your list!

My favorite Japanese food is sashimi fish, simply cut or grilled and eaten with soy sauce and wasabi. If you are new to Japanese food, I recommend you to try an izakaya restaurant (it's like a Japanese pub) since you can order all kinds of Japanese food all at once there; I bet you’ll find a new favourite food each time you go!/p>

I look forward to welcoming you to Japan!

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