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Today we are really excited and happy to interview a very special guest for our “Expat in Japan” series: the co-founder of Arigato Japan, Anne-san! Anne can you please introduce yourself?
My name Elizabeth Anne Kyle, originally from the Philippines. I live in the Minato Area. I am the CEO/Founder of Arigato Japan
How long have you been living in Japan? When did you arrive? What was your first goal when you come to live in Japan?
I have been living in Japan for almost 22 years. I first came to Japan when I was 12 years old traveling with my family. From then on, my love story with Japan started and I promised to return as soon as I graduated from University.
Wow, 22 years! Can you please tell us about the first time you came to Japan? What surprised you the most? Was it like you were expecting? And why.
Coming to Japan at 12 years old was an unforgettable experience for me. Even at a very young age, I was very pleased with the cleanliness, discipline and great hospitality everywhere. It was my first time riding a train, I was very excited over this and took so many photos from our Kodak camera.
As a young kid, the convenient stores were like a great amusement for me! The ice creams, rice balls and all sorts of snacks were just extremely fun to try and I couldn’t get enough of everything in a day!
Also, the vending machines! I can’t remember how long I stared at the first vending machine I saw. It was the perfect Kodak moment! It was something I have never seen before. I remember asking my mom for some coins ( the drinks were like 50yen back then) and coming back with drinks I randomly picked without knowing what they even were because I was just having so much fun!
What do you like the most about living in Japan?
Safety, high level of service and efficiency. It is wonderful to live in a county that has all of these three. Pretty much everything in Japan runs on efficiency.
What about the food? Of course, that would be obvious to ask how much you like it since you own a food tour company but what are your favorite Japanese dishes?
My first up close and personal encounter with Japanese food at 12 years old was a big bowl of Ramen. I always say that “Ramen had me at hello”. I could not forget how delicious it was and even at such a young age, my love for Japanese food started. I truly think Japanese cuisine is THE BEST food in the world!
When did you have the idea to organise food tours in Japan? Do you personally join food tours in other countries?
It was almost 3 years ago after after coming back from a trip from Europe. I have travelled in Europe and joined different t food ours on numerous occasions. The experiences I’ve had and fellow travellers that I have met were the ones that inspired me to open my own Food tour company. On a night food tour en route Monaco, I helped plan the trip of a Canadian couple who were traveling to Japan. I suggested many itineraries and was very excited talking about Japan. I remember them saying, “Thank you for helping us, it seems you are really passionate about Japan. Why don’t you open your own tour company?”
Everything else is history.
And a great story! According to you why people should definitely join a food tour?
There is no better way to discover and immerse in a country’s culture than food. Food is a universal language that connects people from all over the world. Joining a food tour will help you discover hidden gems you wouldn’t find on your own, expose you to many unique flavors and will allow you to connect with locals like you can never imagine.
Definitely! If you had one place you would recommend to people coming to Japan for vacation and why. Also, what is the best season to come and why?
I love Kyoto – to me it is a magical place that I always like coming back to. It has the oldest history in Japan, it’s like stepping back in time. The food in Kyoto is of the highest quality and one has to really indulge in a nice Kaiseki (traditional multi-course meal) meal. The best time to go is during autumn. Kyoto has some the country’s most beautiful foliage.
Do you have any funny anecdote to share with us? – lost in translation / culture shock etc.
Expensive fruits in Japan – a true testament to how exquisite and expensive a product can be!
Personal message: feel free to add anything you want to share with our readers and followers!
Having lived in Japan for more than half of my life, I am truly grateful of all the opportunities and wonderful things this country has given me. The name Arigato Japan sums up more than 2 decades of great experiences I am fortunate to have. Even though I have been here for a while, Japan still excites me about so many unique and wonderful things. I am extremely privileged to have a channel of being able to share my love for this country through our food tours. My continuous goal is to help make delicious memories with those who come and join our food tours.
Thanks very much Anne-san for your time and for sharing your experiences, it has been a pleasure to have you as a our first guest of 2019!
Be sure to follow Arigato Japan for every day posts about food, Japanese culture and life in Japan:
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- Blog arigatojapan.co.jp