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Karin Tompkins

How did you get involved in travel?

"I have grandparents to thank for an early interest in Japan. My Grandpa served as an army neurosurgeon during the Vietnam War, uprooting my mother's side of the family to Yokohama, and my paternal grandparents took no less than 14 trips to Japan.
Growing up in Santa Rosa, California, my life was shaped by the tales, books and souvenirs they returned with, and as I got older, I became more interested in Japanese cuisine, history, and language, and anime.

Curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I spent two happy years in Kahoku, Ishikawa Prefecture to teach. After moving back to the US to embark on a Masters in Japanese Studies, I finally followed in my family's footsteps by spending a year in Yokohama to attend language school.

Returning home, I worked as a preschool teacher in a in the Detroit Metro Area and a Japanese instructor at a summer language school before joining InsideJapan Tours. Teaching others about Japan and helping them to experience their travel dreams there is the culmination of a lifelong passion.

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Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I went sea kayaking on the Ogasawara Islands, about 1000km south of Tokyo. Although technically a part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, these remote islands are only accessible by ferry, and it takes 25 hours to get there. If anyone reading this is willing to make the trip, it's an unforgettable destination.

The water is amazingly blue and clear, and there are countless colourful and beautiful fish, as well as wild dolphins. My kayak guide, Ryo, helped us catch fish and prepared a fresh sushi lunch for us right on the beach."

Featured trips & expertise

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.

Izu Peninsula
Places Most People Miss (But Shouldn't) in Japan

Most visitors to Japan hit up Kyoto's temples, Tokyo's shopping streets, and Osaka's food scene—but there's much more to this country than what you'll find in its cities. Soak in natural hot springs, hike through primeval forest, and spot wildlife on a pristine chain of islands with these under-the-radar suggestions.

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.