Little did Michael's parents know that the Origami handbook they bought him in 4th grade would inspire a lifelong passion for Japan. Unfortunately, despite being somewhat of a child prodigy in the paper folding world, nowadays he would struggle to fashion anything more impressive than a paper cup.
From cookery classes with Princess Diana's former chef, to a stint at a fast food restaurant, Michael's first love isn't origami, but food. We've heard he can cook up a storm with nothing more than an idea, a hungry tummy and some ingenuity. Us, angling for a dinner party invite?
You're never far from a good meal in Japan and when living in Askashi, katsudon - fried pork with sweet and salty sauce topped with an egg - soon became his favourite. Katsudon isn't a health food, but it was great fuel for all his outdoor adventures; hiking Mount Fuji, Mount Ishizuchi and a quarter of the Kumano Kodo being just a few.
As if that wasn't enough, alongside cooking, hiking and origami, Michael enjoys crochet, and was a tissue engineering lab research assistant in a previous life. Plenty to talk about at that dinner party.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"Having extensively traveled to more than half of the prefectures in Japan, I have had great exposure to various areas of the country. Obviously, living in Hyogo prefecture has put a slight knowledge bias towards the Kansai region. I absolutely love the cities of Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka! "
How did you get involved in travel?
"I only recently started working for the travel industry, but have had a passion for travel my entire life. From a young age, my parents would take us on road trips across the US, stopping at national parks and visiting old friends. This early exposure to visiting new places instilled a desire to keep traveling no matter where I lived. While teaching English in Japan, I took full advantage of any opportunity to travel within Japan and other Asian countries. After two years in graduate school, I realized travel is where I needed to be, so here I am!"
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"Hiking Mount Ishizuchi in the rain. This mountain on Shikoku is absolutely breathtaking, if you have a moment, google it. On a normal day, I'm sure this would've felt like a normal hike, but throw in some rain and the fact that you have to climb metal chains and it can turn into a pretty terrifying, but thrilling adventure. After the hike I took a well deserved bath in a Japanese onsen to forget my woes of almost slipping off a mountain face. "