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active 19 hours ago

Jeff Aasgaard

I first moved to Japan when my father was transferred to Hiroshima when I was in college. This experience changed my life. When I returned to the US to finish my degree changed my major to international business which included Japanese language, history, and culture as part of the program. After graduation I moved back to Japan but this time to Osaka as I wanted to live in a place where I did not know anyone as a personal challenge. I continued to study Japanese language and taught English as second language.

I always wanted to show travelers the Japan I fell in love with so in 2000 my wife and I started a travel business that focuses on Japanese culture and people. We started by making reservations at traditional ryokan inns all over Japan as this is one of the best ways for travelers to experience Japanese culture at its finest. This service grew and we started to hire more like minded people. Then in 2006 we started to build completely custom tours of Japan for travelers who want to travel independently but also wanted the support and guidance from people who know Japan.

After 14 years living and working in Japan I moved back to the US with my family but continue to work with my team in Japan to build wonderful custom trips to Japan for travelers. Each summer we head back to Japan to visit family and so I can work with my team in Japan. I also return to my home Aikido martial arts dojo to train directly with my sensei.

I am looking forward to working with you and creating your ideal Japanese experience.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"We build completely customized trips that include a mix of modern, traditional and rural Japan. We listen to our travelers, make suggestion and then present an itinerary that they will love. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"I was in Kyoto, Japan and saw a bus full of tourists existing a large bus; they all looked tired and almost bored. I knew there was a better way to travel and a way to experience and engage with the Japanese culture. One way is to stay at a ryokan inn to have a wonderful meal, to sleep in a Japanese room and to take a Japanese hot spring bath. The other way is to have a mix of guided sightseeing and free time to explore on your own. I love just picking a street to wander down to see what I see. It is not just the must-see sights but also the small things that a large group tour will just pass over."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I was in Kyoto near a street called Hanamikoji which is known for geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha). As is my habit I wandered away from the crowds and was looking down a very narrow street. To my surprise, a maiko appeared along with a young girl walking down this narrow traditional alleyway. I was able to take a number of photos of just the two of them before a swarm of travelers noticed. The background and scene were perfect. "

Featured trips & expertise

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto
Essential Japan: Top 10 Things to Do & See

Crescent-shaped islands surrounded by deep blue sea, Japan has everything from Buddhist temples to great beaches. Home to both a robot restaurant and an ancient rainforest, it's beautiful, diverse, and never boring. Here are ten essential things to do in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
How Many Days Should You Spend in Japan?

Japan is made up of hundreds of islands that extend for nearly 2,000 miles. How many days should you spend exploring, and where should you focus your time? From an action-packed four days in Japan to a leisurely three week itinerary, here are some suggestions for making the most of your time in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The original paved stones of the old Nakasendo trail in central mountainous Japan
Self-Guided Walking Tour on the Nakasendo Trail - 10 Days

Take a walk through time on this 10-day self-guided tour of the Nakasendo Trail, part of feudal Japan's original network of highways. Travelers on the mountain path between Kyoto and Tokyo took several days to travel the distance, staying overnight in Juku post towns. You'll retrace their footsteps as you travel through serene forests, stay in historically preserved local inns by night, and explore the vibrant cities of Kyoto and Tokyo.