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InsideJapan Tour Leaders

If you are planning on joining us on one of our small group tours we are sure you will be pretty interested in who will be showing you round Japan for two weeks! We are pleased to have some of the very best tour leaders in the business working with InsideJapan Tours and whoever is in charge of your group we are sure they will be a wonderful addition to your Japan adventures.

Tyler Palma - Senior Tour Leader
Alain Sabourin - Tour Leader
Steve Parker - Tour Leader
Jennifer Snow - Tour Leader
Yasuhiko Ota - Spirit of Honshu & specialist Nikko area guide
Richard Pearce - Tour Leader
Mark Rawlins - Tour Leader

Tyler Palma
Senior Tour Leader

Over a decade ago, Tyler made journey around the world by boat, stopping in Osaka and Nagasaki along the way and starting a love affair with Japan that continues to this day. He began working as a tour leader nearly nine years ago in the tropical lands of Southeast Asia but it wasnít until after living in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, and South Korea that Tyler found his true calling in the Ďland of the rising suní. Now living in Tokyo, his free time is spent working on a masters degree in East Asian studies and studying calligraphy under one of Japanís most distinguished 'senseií. A self-proclaimed Japanophile, he takes a keen interest in all of Japanís traditional arts and strives to find the best in every city he visits - which almost always includes a few pints of beer with the locals. Although his wanderlust has taken him to over 50 countries, he still maintains that there is no better travel destination than his home away from home. 

Not content with simply getting you from point to point, Tyler will happily share his personal insights on the world of the geisha, take you along to a family-run restaurant, or offer his assistance with planning your free time in Japanís most unforgettable destinations!

Alain Sabourin
Tour Leader

Originally from Canada, Alain started traveling solo at the age of 18 and is possibly the most adventurous of our team. After spending a few years snowboarding and rock climbing in Western Canada he went to South America for a year of trekking. Alain explored the Amazon in Venezuela, Brazil and Columbia and climbed throughout the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.

Having Ďdoneí South America, next stop for Alain was Asia. Here he traveled through South East Asia and India and, in 2002, found himself in Japan. Sticking with the adventure them, Alainís first job in Japan was as a white water rafting and mountain biking guide.

Since 2002 Alain has added tour leading to his skill-set and has been working throughout Asia on cultural and adventure tours. From 2009 onwards he has been based solely in Japan leading a variety of tours. A,lain is passionate about showing people Japanís rich culture and deep traditions and the true beauty of the country. 

Steve Parker
Tour Leader

Steve arrived on Japanese soil in the summer of 1996 and spent 6 years working in education. After whizzing around the whole country to see as many of the 2002 World Cup matches as possible, he headed for home in the UK.

Soon though, the itchy feet prompted him to become a tour leader - working in Japan, Cuba, Italy and Spain. He therefore has acquired the ability to dance salsa in a kimono, toss pizza dough and dodge charging bulls - all at the same time, of course.

Inevitably, after 5 years came the decision to return to his adopted homeland to both live and work, as it proved impossible to stay away from the great food, hot springs, mountains and the karaoke mic.

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 Yasuhiko Ota
Tour Leader

Yasuhiko Ota was born and raised in Tokyo in 1942, the Japanese called, Edokko". Ota-san considers himself to be a young 70 and you certainly wouldn't be able to guess his age! He graduated from Tokyo's prestigious Chuo University majoring in Business Administrations & Accoounting and followed this up with studies at the University of Delaware, USA where he met his future wife, Hiroko. Yasuhiko enjoyed his studies in Delaware so much that he stuck around for another 6 years taking up a position with E.I.DuPont Headquarters in Delaware. In 1972 he returned to Japan starting work at JP Morgan Guaranty Bank, Tokyo Branch Office, thus beginning a 25 year career in banking during which time he worked with Wespac Banking Corporation(Australian Bank) and Citibank, Tokyo. The world of international finance brought with it plenty of opportunities for travel and Yasuhiko was stationed in Sydney (about 6 months), London (about 1 year) and New York (5 years). Yasuhiko finished his career with 7 years at American Express in the travel division and there discovered that his true interests lay in the travel industry.

His hobbies are travel (Hawaii is his favourite followed closely by Okinawa), reading, gardening and he has even been known to put up some impressive performances in triathlon events. He has two children (a son and daughter aged 35 and 22 respectively) and a 3 year old granddaughter. Yasuhiko and his wife Hiroko live in Utsunomiya City, approximately 60 miles north of Tokyo
Mark Rawlins
Tour Leader

Mark first arrived in Japan after a three-week overland trip from Bristol, via the Trans-Siberian Express railway, in the Autumn of 2009. His first night in Kobe was eventful, including a visit to a police box (where he was welcomed with a mix of confusion and kindness), and a night spent sleeping in an internet cafe. This first meeting with the country that would eventually become his second home was the beginning of a 10-month study abroad program at Kyushu University, before heading back to Bristol to complete his degree in Law.
The seed had been planted, however. Wary of jumping straight into a life of contracts, coffee and courtrooms, he headed straight back to Japan after graduation to pursue a Masters degree and further textbooks, tea, and temples. Having studied Japanese and spent time getting acquainted with Japanese culture, Mark now feels suitably prepared to utilise his skills and knowledge of Japan to help unlock its mysteries for those lucky enough to reach its shores, with particular emphasis on getting to know the wonderful nature of the Japanese people up close.
Now settled in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, Mark spends his free time walking, playing sports, and reading. Almost unavoidably in Japan, he also enjoys eating at restaurants and sharing a few drinks with friends at Izakaya pubs. In line with the teaching of Zen Buddhism, however, he believes that the question is not necessarily what you do on your travels, but rather how you do it. To this end, he will be more than happy to help you have a great experience on your trip to Japan.

Richard Pearce
Tour Leader

From an early age, Richard could often be found out and about exploring the fields and woodlands of The Cotswolds where he grew up. His love of adventure and nature eventually took him to the savannahs of Kenya and the forests of Madagascar and Tanzania, where he spent several months studying the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit there. Strangely, he still has fond memories of waking to snakes in his tent and of washing in rivers and swamps with crocs watching on. Having completed a life long dream of training and qualifying as a Safari Guide in South Africa and finishing an around the world trip, it was time to get a normal job. However, in retrospect, he realises that working as an English Teacher in Japanese and Korean schools for 5 years was anything but "normal".

Richard has been based in the beautiful Tottori Prefecture, one of the most rural prefectures, for 5 years. Slowly but surely, Richard feels he has gradually become "Japanified" and spends most of his free time exploring his home from home on his motorbike or on foot, trying as many unusual foods as possible. Fried wasp maggots, anyone? Richard is joint-founder of the largest outdoor craft beer festival in Japan and sole-founder and captain of the tournament conquering Tottori Tigers Football Team. He is much prouder of the latter.

Richard looks forward to showing you the often weird, always wonderful and never to be forgotten place that is Japan.

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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