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Our team in Nagoya

Our Japan office is the administrative heart of InsideJapan Tours and ensures that all our packages and tours run according to plan. The staff are also on the end of a phone 24 hours a day, with an emergency mobile number supplied to all our customers; should you experience any difficulties whilst in Japan you know that a helping hand is just a phone call away. The office is based in Nagoya in central Japan; the city is the fourth biggest in Japan and has exceptional transport links to the rest of the country making it the perfect base.  

Ayako Koide - Japan Office Manager
Tomoko Murase - Group Tours Administration
Tetsuko Furusawa - Operations Assistant
Akiko Imaizumi - Operations Assistant
Nathaniel Saito - Travel Consultant
Ayako Kiyono - Professional Guide
Mayuko Takasagi - Operations Assistant

Ayako Koide
Office Manager


Along with Alastair and Simon, Ayako is a founding member of InsideJapan Tours although perhaps she didn't realise it at the time! A good friend of both the Directors from their time living in Toyota, Ayako agreed to help them out researching hotels and guesthouses for the first tours. However, when an customer enquiry came in to help design a personal programme in Kyushu it was Ayako who provided the means to make it happen, supplying rail tickets and organising tours. She was quickly enlisted as a full time member of the team and is today at the heart of InsideJapan Tours' Japan office operations. Ayako's supreme skills of organisation ensure that all our programmes run without a hitch and she is also responsible for maintaining our excellent relationships with hundreds of hotels and inns all across Japan. Ayako is also the main point of contact for our customers travelling independently in Japan, providing peace of mind and also arranging all manner of services for clients whether that be forwarding on forgotten items or finding a dentist for an emergency root canal! Aya has a love of British indie music (fostered during a year studying English Literature at Warwick University, UK) and can be seen at all the best gigs in her home city of Nagoya. She has a keen interest in politics and current affairs, is never seen without a good book, and has a propensity to get rather over excited when the Chunichi Dragons (Nagoya's local baseball team) are on fire.
 Tomoko Murase
Group Tours Administration

Tomoko comes to our Nagoya office with an impressive C.V. behind her and an intriguing background. One of four children, Tomoko is the first to leave Fukui Prefecture moving to Nagoya shortly after joining the company. Before working at IJT, Tomoko was working as an English teacher at a Junior High School and holds the unusual distinction of a teaching license for elementary, junior high and high schools. Quite an achievement.

Tomoko spent a year studying English in the picturesque surroundings of Cherry Hinton on the outskirts of Cambridge having been inspired as a young girl to study English by a love of teddy bears, English tea and the image of an English gentleman! Whilst in England Tomoko acquired a taste for curry and chips but says that the battered fish was not for her!

In her spare time Tomoko enjoys independent cinema and Japanese college rock. However, she also used to be a dab hand at the violin and played in the school orchestra.

Having joined InsideJapan's Nagoya Office in Spring 2008, Tomoko has made herself a vital cog in the administrative machinery taking sole responsibility for the small group tours. She also hold a professional guide licence and takes occasionally responsibility for assisting our clients during their time in Japan.

Tomoko is currently on maternity leave having given birth to her first baby, a boy, in December 2012. Congratulations Tomoko and we are all looking forward to meeting your son and having you back in the office in 2013!

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Tetsuko Furusawa
Operations Manager

Tetsuko joined InsideJapan's Nagoya team in Spring 2008 and has rapidly made herself an indispensable cog in the administration of all our tailored clients' packages, with responsibility for buying transport tickets, booking events and generally ensuring everything goes according to plan.

Having been brought up in Toyohashi, a small city on the Pacific coast well known for its mild weather and extraordinary tedutsuhanabi (hand held fireworks), Tetsuko headed west to Kobe for university where she studied German literature and it is during this time she developed her allegiance to the nearby Hanshin Tigers baseball team. Famed for their fanatical supporters, Tetsuko certainly fits right in! 

Since graduating from high school, Tetsuko has travelled extensively through Europe, North American and Asia including a year spent living with a host family in Hawaii. She has also travelled a lot in the Kansai region and has a special love of temples, shrines and historical places which she describes as her 'healing spots'. 

Outside of work Tetsuko likes to read history books (she has plenty of opportunity each day on the 90 minute commute from Toyohashi), visit onsen resorts and of course, watch her beloved Hanshin Tigers. She also has rank of first-dan in a variety of martial arts including Kendo and Iaido (Japanese sword fighting!)

Akiko Imaizumi
Operations Assistant

A local to Aichi prefecture, Akiko was born in the coastal city of Toyohashi and moved to Nagoya in 2002 to study International Culture at university. After taking a holiday to Korea with a friend she was bitten with the travel bug and for her graduation trip decided to head west to Istanbul and Egypt. Visits to Paris and London followed before Akiko decided to head over to Canada to spend 6 months living in Vancouver

Sadly travelling costs money so having returned to Nagoya Akiko found herself working for an English conversation school, a great opportunity to brush up on those business English skills.

The pull of adventure was too much though and Akiko upped sticks again this time for two years in Surfers Paradise – Australia’s Gold Coast. During this period she worked in real estate but perhaps it was the laid back Ozzy lifestyle of BBQ, beach walks, home brew beer and fabulous wine which kept her there for so long!

Outside of travel and work Akiko enjoys curling up on the couch and checking out the latest style, fashion, culture and of course, travel magazines. That is when she’s not out on her mini-bike finding the best new cafes and bars Nagoya has to offer!

At InsideJapan Tours Akiko makes sure that all our clients receive the most up-to-date information with their documents and that all tickets and services are correctly booked and sent.

Nathaniel Saito
Travel Consultant

Nathaniel’s interest in Japan was sparked while on a 2 week study abroad program to Japan during college. After graduating he found himself in a tiny rural town in Yamagata in the middle of the Japanese countryside knowing zero Japanese and nothing about Japan beyond the fact that he liked conveyor belt sushi.

One year stretched into two and after moving to Matsumoto became three and then four! At that point his communication level still involved more finger pointing than actual speaking so he headed to Nagoya, home of the IJT Japan office, to study Japanese for two years. While not sure how much he actually learned, he did meet his future wife.

With his studies coming to an end and a strong desire to introduce foreigners to his adopted country he contacted our Nagoya office about a possible job. The rest, as we say, is history.

Between guiding family and friends and independent travel he has made his way from Aomori in the far north of Honshu to Nagasaki in the south of Kyushu along with Okinawa. In his free time he has embarked on the challenge of running a full marathon in each prefecture of Japan. So far he has checked two prefectures off his list along with running shorter races in almost a dozen others.

At IJT Nathaniel is responsible for looking after our Australian clients for both group tours and independent travel. Of course, as an American may need a little help with some Aussie lingo. Please feel free to advise! 

Ayako Kiyono
Professional Guide

Ayako Kiyono is InsideJapan's newest recruit and also takes on a brand new position as our very own expert professional guide. Born in Osaka (whose cotton industry made it the Manchester of Japan during industrialisation) Ayako is a typical Osaka-ite (or Osaka-jin in Japanese) - talkative, friendly and warm hearted!

The residents of Osaka are famed for their love of good and hearty food and Ayako is no different making a full time hobby out of finding new restaurants, especially those of the reasonably priced variety!

Ayako's interest in the traditional Japanese culture has led her to study tea ceremony as well as take kimono wearing lessons - all important accomplishments for a girl brought up in a Buddhist temple.

Kiyono-san has been working as a full time guide since 2008 and unsurprisingly her favourite city to work in is Kyoto, the capital of traditional Japanese culture and history. Ayako will be assisting our clients with private tours across Japan as well as leading some of our groups. If you are lucky enough to have a day with Ayako as part of your trip, you are guaranteed an extra special time!

Mayuko Takagi
Operations Assistance

Mayuko is an Aichi local having been brought up in Seto City, close to Nagoya. Having spent 4 years studying music at university in Shizuoka, Mayuko decided to take up the challenge of working in the travel industry and worked as a tour leader, showing round groups of Japanese tourists both within Japan and on overseas trips.

Wishing to imorve her English Mayuko headed to Canada and spent 18 months living in Otawa. As well as having the change to ice skate on the frozen canal in the winter (and no doubt eat lots of maple syrup and pancakes!), her time in Canada made Mayuko realize for the first time how unique Japanese culture is. Upon returning to Japan she got a new job in travel but this time with more of a focus on guiding oversees visitors and introducing them to Japan and the culture. She also worked as a coordinator for an international youth exchange program run by the Japanese government.

Mayuko joined InsideJapan Tours in the summer of 2012 and has quickly become an integral part of the operations team ensuring that all tickets are purchased and delivered on time, hotels are booked correctly and that our clients’ holidays run without a hitch. Outside of work Mayuko likes cooking, has an interest in Japanese history and culture, still plays the flute and the piano and has recently started learning Italian. Oh, and a love of cleaning!


Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009