Our guides

Tom Takano   Professional mountain guide

Tom Takano Born 9 April 1972. I started climbing in 1980, and in middle school and university was interested in the decathlon. I have done several first ascents in Japan. I have also done some big wall climbing in North America and Europe.
As well as working as a guide throughout Japan, I am now regularly leading groups in the USA, the European Alps, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal.
My aim is to climb in the Himalaya. I have a good knowledge of mountain flora and fauna, and consider myself a trustworthy hiking guide.

I have worked with Hike Japan for five years.

Sam Yokobori   Mountain leader and professional tour conductor

Sam Yokobori I was born in Tokyo in 1978. After school , I went to university in Canada where I majored in Environmental Studies. Having a deep interest in Japanese culture, I served two terms as president of my university's Japanese Culture Club. After graduating, I did my mountaineering skills training in the Canadian Rockies. This included ice climbing, ski mountaineering, summer mountaineering, white water paddling, rock climbing, and wilderness first aid.

I subsequently worked for an eco-tour company based near Mt. Fuji, guiding in both in English and Japanese. I guided a range of tours, from caving to treks on and around Mt. Fuji. I effectively developed my mountaineering and nature interpreter skills whilst working there.

Since 2008, I have been travelling between Canada and Japan. In Canada I look after Japanese clients in the Rockies, whilst in Japan I introduce overseas visitors to various aspects of Japanese culture and our mountains. I also currently work for Wilderness Medical Associates , and teach Wilderness First Aid courses in Japan.

I love the Japanese mountains and their cultural history. I look forward to meeting you and taking you there.

Qualifications:

  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (Canada)
  • Japan Mountain Guides Association (Japan)
  • Interpretive Guide Association (Canada)
  • Wilderness Medical Associates (US)

Tomo Akiyama   Freelance wildlife researcher, photographer, and guide

Tomo Akiyama Born in Hamamatsu, Japan, in 1973, I have had a great interest in wildlife since childhood. After studying biology at ICU in Tokyo, in 1994 I won a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship to New Mexico State University, USA, to study wildlife management.

I moved to Kyoto in 1996, and lived there for 5 years. During that time I studied the behaviour and ecology of the masked palm civet for a masters degree at Kyoto University.

Since 2000, I have worked as a freelance wildlife researcher, mainly analyzing the environmental impact of public construction projects, travelling throughout Japan researching wildlife.

I have been fortunate enough to encounter wildlife in many countries other than Japan. I have had great sightings, for example, of lions, cheetahs, and a leopard in Kenya, clouded leopards in Malaysia, jaguars in Costa Rica, and tigers in India.

In 2005 I guided a tour - during an International Mammal Conference - of the Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture in the far north of Honshu Island, where the group studied snow monkeys and Japanese serow.

Since the winter of 2009-10, I've been working on a project to conserve the snow-leopard in Pakistan.

From 2017, I'll be guiding Quest Japan's new bird-watching tours in Japan.

Ryoko Aosaki    Freelance trekking guide, adventure trip coordinator, interpreter guide,
and columnist

Ryoko Aosaki I am extremely passionate about nature and love nothing more than spending time in the woods.

I fell in love with the wild when I first visited Alaska to coordinate an aurora borealis viewing trip. After eleven years working in the travel industry, in 2007 I moved to Alaska, where I took a backpacking and a mountaineering course of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). There I learned a range of outdoor skills including navigation, route finding, camping skills, ?eave no trace', and ethics.

Since then I've spent every summer in Europe or North America as a trekking guide, sharing my summer days with many great people, surrounded by nature.

Spending time in foreign countries and different cultures reminds me of the importance of deepening my knowledge of my own wonderful culture in Japan. It is a great opportunity to work for Quest Japan, as I can introduce and share my culture with those who are interested. Japan is a mountainous country, and mountains are intimately connected to our culture.

I hope all who join us will enjoy finding out more about our mountains and history, and how closely they are linked.

 

Isao Matsuzawa Managing Director, Quest Japan

 

Isao MatsuzawaI visited England as a student of English in 1973. The UK was the first country I traveled to outside Japan. I then enjoyed backpacking around Europe later the same year. These experiences convinced me to make tourism my life's work.

 

I've visited 47 countries in my travel business career. I worked for more than 30 years for one of the largest Japanese travel companies, during which time I was mostly involved in inbound tours and making sure overseas visitors enjoyed Japan.

 

I'm a certified Travel Supervisor and Tour Guide Interpreter. Today, as well as co-directing Quest Japan, I enjoy guiding families and small group tours.

 

I enjoy fly fishing in the Japanese mountains, and love playing the guitar in an amateur Beatles tribute band.