Tapping into her experience in marketing and tourism as well as her knowledge of Japan, UK-born long-term Tokyo resident and travel aficionado Julia Maeda set up the adventure tour website Tokyo Personalised in June 2017. As the name suggests, the business is designed to offer tourists customized experiences in Tokyo and beyond, so they feel they are enjoying something truly unique.
From exploring the hidden alleys of Tokyo’s backstreets, to learning the behind the scenes of sumo, to tasting the best of Japan’s food in various cities and getting an insider’s experience of rural farming in Japan, Maeda’s customized tours cater to tourists’ personal needs and preferences while skillfully showing them the best of Japan that’s yet to be explored.
Savvy Tokyo catches up with Maeda to learn more about the challenges and rewards of running the business and how it is impacting Japan’s tourism.
What inspired you to set up Tokyo Personalised?
I really enjoyed working in the travel industry in a previous role. I helped people discover a Japan that you don’t read about in guidebooks. I’ve also been doing that for quite a long time for friends and family who were visiting. I spent hours putting together itineraries featuring my favorite restaurants and places to go in Tokyo as well as some destinations in Tohoku, where my husband and I used to live. It’s an area of Japan that even many Japanese people don’t know well. Everyone I recommended it to was blown away when they got there and realized that there is much more to Japan than the insanity of Tokyo and temples of Kyoto.
After some time, I began to wonder if I could do that work as a business. I’ve been in Japan for 20 years and have many connections, including with ryokan owners or artisans such as swordsmiths and tea masters who would be of interest to tourists. Tokyo Personalised seemed to be a way to connect all those dots as well as my love of Japan.
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