Surviving in the travel industry in Japan (and around the world) during Covid was an interesting adventure, certainly a challenge, and quite a roller coaster ride! We are thrilled that borders are reopened at last here, despite being so slow compared to other regions. And we’ve had a lot of changes and experiences along the way. So it’s time for our big news…
During the pandemic, we treated it as a kind of “caterpillar to butterfly” opportunity. How can we expand, improve, learn, and share more skills and ideas? This was the question we asked ourselves constantly. My partner Anne and I traveled the country, tried new experiences, and met excellent people in our industry.
We also started new projects–A LOT of new projects.
We decided to try to share what we had learned about guides and storytelling over our 6 years of running food tours. We explored new places in Japan on industry monitor tours, created online experiences, launched a team building brand for our corporate friends around the world, ran guide training programs and webinars, supported destinations to build new tours and experiences, and built new tours ourselves, full of cultural and artistic activities to add on to our culinary tour plans! We are working with international destination management and travel companies overseas, to be their eyes and ears on the ground! (We did a lot of other stuff along the way but the list would be FAR too long for this post.)
On the media side, our marketing manager, Jess, and an army of amazing interns wrote content, did research, and supported businesses, accommodation providers, partners, and destinations in media creation and publication. We grew our following and did our best to share and support all our partners along the way.
We kept very, very, busy and tried to face all the new challenges and stress of Covid while staying hopeful and optimistic.
Then one day, early in 2022, we realized we had become MORE than Arigato Japan Food Tours! We knew the pandemic had changed the world, but it had also changed our company. It was time to expand our offerings officially, and create a new brand rooted in our history but reaching for more for the future.
So long story short… Arigato Japan Food Tours became ARIGATO TRAVEL!
The Arigato part of course, stays the same. Arigato means thank you in Japanese and the origin of our brand includes our gratitude and thankfulness every day for the opportunities, love, support, and adventure that this country has given us. We know people learn and remember this word early on when they dream of coming here, so hopefully, they will remember us as well. But now we are embracing the second part of our new name TRAVEL.
Traveling is a way to learn about new places, but more importantly, it is a way to learn about ourselves and where we come from. Comparison, contrast, and expanding mental and emotional borders are what thrill so many of us when exploring a new place, either at home or abroad. Making discoveries, meeting new people, and sharing that back home once we return: this is the magic of travel.
By evolving into Arigato Travel, we are reaching further beyond where we started. Of course, our food tours and culinary passion are still in our DNA and are the foundation of who we are and how we view the world. You can’t talk to anyone on our team without us mentioning delicious Japanese food and culinary experiences in some way. But these days we realize we want to be involved in all of the areas of “Travel in Japan.” We want to connect with our guests in new ways–before they arrive, support them in their journey, share our passion here, and introduce them to the best that Japan has to offer.
We are also so excited to support other travel partners and destinations across Japan. We have been working with destination management companies and organizations, local guide groups, and tour operators over the last 2½ years to build and become a part of a network of professionals that have the same vision.
We see so much exciting potential for the future and we hope that our new name Arigato Travel will help us focus on our goals to become a force for change, support travelers, and be a trusted partner for all the wonderful people in the travel industry across this country waiting to welcome visitors to Japan!
In other great news, as a part of our rebranding we are also finally introducing our own Arigato Travel Mascot!
If you know a bit about Japan, you may have heard we have a big mascot-culture here. Towns, companies, schools, even the tax office have their own mascot. We are introducing UMACHAN, our newest, and cutest team member soon in blog post and they will have their own website too! Being a big mascot fan myself, I am super excited about this!
Thank you all for supporting us in the past, and we hope you will join us as we head into the future. Thank you to our partners and friends that kept us moving forward optimistically these last challenging years, and thank you to all the wonderful people we have met along the way. We’re excited to kick off this new adventure. Let’s GO!
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