I grew up in South Africa, but my parents were originally from Britain and Uganda, which made our family a bit of an anomaly in post-apartheid South Africa. Being mixed and receiving exposure to so many different cultural groups growing up, meant that I always had an appreciation for different cultures. I was also exposed to international travel early on as most of my extended family lived overseas.
Fast-forward to the present, I now live just outside of Tokyo, can communicate in Japanese, and get to do what I love - travel.
I run the administrative side of Kichi Japan as well as craft custom tours, which is a great fit because I am a perfectionist at heart, and love planning out all of the nitty-gritty details to make our guests' travel as smooth as possible. Travel for me is about experiencing something outside of my norm, and welcoming the new perspective it brings.
You can learn so much just by getting out of your comfort zone or local bubble, and opening yourself up to try new things. And although I do enjoy exploring the big city hotspots (they’re famous for a reason), I tend to prefer the more intimate travel experiences away from the crowds. The less 'touristy', the better!
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"We are all about authentic Japan. Because we actually live here rather than being based abroad; we know where to find hidden gems, have relationships with local people and organizations, know the culture, and specialize in providing catered one-of-a-kind experiences! Anything from big city fashion tours and food experiences, to fishing with a monk on a semi-deserted island or trekking with the mountain ascetics - we do it all. "
How did you get involved in travel?
"I've always had an adventurous spirit. Growing up in South Africa, I had loads of opportunities to travel around several of the provinces and was always game to try anything new. I spent a year living in a rural village near Zululand where the only roads were dirt ones, and we often went days without water. However, it was a fantastically beautiful place to live and I experienced many things most people wouldn't, because visitors don't venture that far.
I first came to Japan on a 2-week trip a couple of years ago, and this is where I met my future-husband who just so happened to run tours in Japan! After resigning from my job in the UK, I returned to Japan and we spent a few months traveling the entire country together. I think I knew even then that I would end up living here some day.
After that everything just sort of came together. I moved to Japan and, after discovering that I had a real knack for trip planning, started working with my partner at his company (Kichi Japan). "
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"One of the most memorable travel experiences I've had actually occurred on a couple of small islands in Nagasaki. We have a relationship with a monk there who is one of 31 people who live on the island. He welcomed us into his home while his wife made us a delicious lunch, and took us on a hike through a very long and very dark lava tunnel, at the end of which was a shrine. He, his daughter and granddaughter then proceeded to clean out the shrine and chant a prayer - all of them dressed in camo!
He then took us on his private boat to another nearby island where only 1 person - a 70-year-old woman - is left living there. The island and its homes are completely overgrown, and the most interesting structure was probably the old school. Everything was still there - desks, chalk, books, shoes - all covered in dust and vines. It was as if all the people had simply faded away as nature had claimed back its property. It was a sober reminder of how much of the countryside and small islands are dying, as most people move to the big cities.
It ended off well though as the 70-year-old 'obaachan' led us on a literal bushwhack through the forest to show us a lagoon where she used to swim as a child. May I be as active and healthy as her when I reach that age!"
Featured trips & expertise
This diverse 10-day itinerary focuses on Japan's four major cities. Start in Tokyo, exploring the city's modern and ancient charms, before heading to traditional Kyoto, trendy Osaka, and inspiring Hiroshima. In between, you'll visit magical islands and bamboo forests, sample local cuisine, and experience the culture of four fascinating regions.
This exciting itinerary goes beyond normal expectations by including a diverse range of activities for an authentic travel experience. Immerse yourself in Japan's state of the art tech in Tokyo and visit an interactive art museum on the man-made island Odaiba prior to traveling to Fujikawaguchiko where you can look at the famous Mount Fuji volcano while relaxing in an onsen hot spring. You will then depart for Nagoya and visit interactive robots as well as the Ise Jingu Grand Shrine before a bullet train takes you to Kanazawa which has many historic samurai homes and the charming village Gokayama and finally, you will tour your final destination Kyoto by bicycle and discover breathtaking temples as well as the lively city culture.
This two-week itinerary takes you on a whirlwind tour through Japan's greatest highlights. Walk the streets of hyper-modern Tokyo and Osaka, hike to a sacred Buddhist monastery at Koyasan, soak in hot springs under Mount Fiji, and step back in time in historic Kyoto. From ancient temples to futuristic art shows, vibrant cities to secluded mountaintops, you'll experience a little bit of everything on this adventurous journey.
Venture beyond the major cities with this 10-day adventure through Japan’s most stunning natural and cultural wonders. Starting in glittering Tokyo, you’ll visit ancient shrines, climb mountain peaks, and enter lush bamboo forests before ending your journey in historic Kyoto.
This trip will take you to all the places you shouldn't miss on your first trip to Japan. Discover both the traditional and modern sides of Japan at shrines and temples, witness technological innovation at an amazing digital art exhibition and a crazy robot cabaret, and get involved in hands-on cooking and craft classes. This 13-day tour is a perfect introduction to the best of Japan.
This 14-day trip takes you to the major cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, where you'll experience a mix of modern culture and timeworn traditions. You'll also venture to the temples and shrines in Nikko and a hot springs retreat in Hakone. The last leg takes you to Nara, known for its free-roaming deer, and Hiroshima, where you'll witness the flourishing rebuild of one of Japan's most historically significant towns.