Profile photo for Jeff Aasgaard
1764 messages
active 1 day ago

Jeff Aasgaard

I first moved to Japan when my dad was transferred to Hiroshima, this experience changed my life. When I returned to the US I finished my degree and changed my major international business which included studying Japanese language, history, and culture. After graduation I moved back to Japan and lived in Osaka. I got married and founded a company in 2000 to help travelers experience Japan.

We started small with just a few custom tours and grew quickly. We currently have a full time team of 10 people who love Japan and love creating personal tours for our travelers. Our team works in both Japan and the US.

Our mission is to provide a culturally-enriching experience by meeting and getting to know the Japanese people and discovering Japan's rich cultural heritage.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"We build customized trips that personalized for each traveler. We listen to our travelers, make suggestions and present an itinerary that they will love. We then take care of all the details of their trip including accommodations, transportation, guides, activities and the like. Because we have an office in Japan we are also able to support our travelers during their trip. We take care of all the details so all our travelers have to do is enjoy Japan. "

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

Golden Route Japan
Explore the Golden Route of Japan - 12 Days

Equally known for its vibrant city life and mountainous beauty, Japan offers a well-rounded visit, filled with liveliness, adventure, and variety. On your 12-day journey, you will explore the high-energy tech and fashion trends of Tokyo, enjoy the breathtaking views and temples of Kyoto, and relax at a hot springs retreat in Hakone. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture, complete with the exceptional, authentic dining of Osaka.

Best of Old and New Japan
Best of Old and New Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, & More - 14 Days

The combination of historic and modern beauty makes Japan the ideal vacation destination. On this journey of old world-meets-new world, you will explore the progressive city of Tokyo, along with strolling through pockets of old Japan. Excursions into the hot springs of Gero Onsen and the gardens of Kanazawa will allow you to experience the preservation of nature. Even still, you can channel Japan’s past–in present-day–by taking up residency in a thatched-roof farmhouse in Shirakawa-go, connecting with long-time local artisans in Takayama, and exploring the ancient temples of Kyoto.

Kyoto's Higashiyama historic district
Best of Tokyo & Kyoto - 7 Days

This weeklong adventure splits its time between two of Japan's most important cities with a mix of customizable tours and free time to explore on your own. Start off in Tokyo for a taste of modern Japan with top-notch architecture, animé, modern art, high fashion, and cuisine. Then head to traditional Kyoto for beautiful temples and shrines, ancient gardens, and cultural experiences like tea ceremonies and calligraphy.

The torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto
Classic Highlights of Japan - 14 Days

On this two-week journey to the four corners of Japan's main island, Honshu, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy its unmissable attractions. You'll visit sacred temples and shrines, go bike riding through the countryside, and roam around the capital's most famous neighborhoods. From the modern cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima to the island of Miyajima, the wonders of ancient Kyoto and beyond, there is so much to see, taste, and discover.

Magic of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima - 12 days
Magic of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima - 12 days

Discover both the traditional and modern sides of Japan as you visit various shrines and temples, witness technological innovation at an amazing digital art exhibition and crazy (in a very good way) robot show, and get involved in a few hands-on cooking and craft classes. For a trip which aims to give you the best overview of Japan as possible, you can't do any better.

Recent trip reviews for Jeff

Trip to japan, Japan - Mar 27 - Apr 6, 2019

Traveler: Cris B. - Local specialist: Jeff Aasgaard

Firstly we would like to thank Jeff for such wonderful communication throughout the planning, all the information we received before we began the trip and all the info in our packet on arrival. Everything worked like clockwork( except running for the wrong bullet train) because of the attention to fine details such as every ticket for transport, cards for each check-in and particularly the pocket wifi.
We had two guides, one in Tokyo and one in Kyoto . Ms Junko Dogauchi was helpful and we... read more

Firstly we would like to thank Jeff for such wonderful communication throughout the planning, all the information we received before we began the trip and all the info in our packet on arrival. Everything worked like clockwork( except running for the wrong bullet train) because of the attention to fine details such as every ticket for transport, cards for each check-in and particularly the pocket wifi.
We had two guides, one in Tokyo and one in Kyoto . Ms Junko Dogauchi was helpful and we enjoyed our day which helped us with the subway,but it was difficult to understand her English. Ms Fukiko Teramachi was excellent with good English and conversation. We had a different kind of day at her village as well as a couple of tourist spots. She was also helpful with places to eat.
The most memorable experience was at Yamanochaya in Hakone. It was a lot of fun with such pleasant staff. Mikoto Aoki as our attending staff was wonderful. She helped us with our 'little' Japanese and we helped her with her English. We managed to use theHakone free pass on both days which made it simple to travel around. We really liked Kyoto and enjoyed doing our own thing there. Did some shopping in the markets which was reasonable as most things in the department stores etc too expensive for us.
On our last day in Tokyo we got to see the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom. It was beautiful weather and one street was closed with groups partying and the Rugby players interacting with the public. Very different.
Hotels were great, usually good location but we did not like the hotel in Takayama the Hotel Associa Takayama Resort. It was huge and definitely catered for big tourist groups. At any one time there were up to 10 buses. Consequently we could not get into the buffet restaurant. We used the shuttle bus for one dinner but when it started to snow we decided to stay in. The breakfast was chaotic in the restaurant with so many people. We would have preferred to stay in a smaller hotel.

Jeff Aasgaard profile photo
Jeff Aasgaard, local specialist, responded to this review:

Chris,

We were so happy to read that you had a great time in Japan. It really is an amazing & beautiful country.

Sorry about Hotel Associa Takayama Resort. One of the problems with visiting Japan during high season is the herds of bus tours in the most popular locations. I wish there was a way to clear out the people for our travelers.

I am so glad you liked your guides and could see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo. This really is an amazing sights and the Japanese know how to... read more

Chris,

We were so happy to read that you had a great time in Japan. It really is an amazing & beautiful country.

Sorry about Hotel Associa Takayama Resort. One of the problems with visiting Japan during high season is the herds of bus tours in the most popular locations. I wish there was a way to clear out the people for our travelers.

I am so glad you liked your guides and could see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo. This really is an amazing sights and the Japanese know how to celebrate the coming of spring.

Thank you for your very kind words about our service. My team and I look forward to working with you on your next trip to Japan! Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!

Thank you,
Jeff