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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

The torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto
The 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.

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.