Journey to the East is an independently owned travel company providing carefully crafted small group tours to Japan for travellers from around the world.
We are Japan specialists and focus exclusively on experiences that immerse you in the local culture by taking you away from the tourist hotspots and revealing the true heart of this fascinating country. Our long association with Japan allows us to draw on our own knowledge and experience to deliver a truly authentic journey for all who travel with us.
From small group tours with guaranteed departure dates to private journeys designed exclusively for you, Journey to the East is passionate about creating truly unforgettable Japan holidays. To find out more about our range of trips, go to Small Group Tours of Japan.
Over the years, we’ve met many travellers fascinated by the people, landscapes, history and art of Asian countries, but language barriers and unfamiliarity with the cultural context stopped them from making the decision to go. These people were well travelled and inquisitive by nature; all they needed was access to local experts whose country knowledge could unlock a destination and make a truly amazing journey come to life.
We felt there was an opportunity in Japan to offer an extra small group tour format, which could open the door to some very special discoveries and experiences – something that would appeal to those who enjoy the freedom of independent travel but also want to delve deeper.
Journey to the East was launched in 2012 to bridge the gap between independent travel and the conventional group tour approach. We aim to provide travellers with a more personal and insightful journey through Japan with a friendly, knowledgeable guide at their side.
What Drives Us
We’ve had the good fortune to have spent 20 years travelling the length and breadth of Japan. Our natural curiosity to find out what’s around the next corner has meant that we’ve stumbled on some breathtakingly beautiful places. It’s our passion to share these hidden treasures and take travellers beyond the busy tourist spots.
Throughout the journey, we want our travellers to feel comfortable and at ease, knowing they don't need to worry about the logistical details that can take the fun out of travel. We aim to deliver a travel itinerary that works seamlessly, yet still allows for an unscripted detour or the time to simply stop, absorb and enjoy.
There’s nothing more rewarding than to see our customers so happy and enriched at the end of their journey that they're moved to describe their time with us with one simple word - “Wow!” See what our travellers say about us here: What They Said - Journey to the East Customer Reviews.
Journey to the East is based in Brisbane, Australia, and is owned and run by husband-and-wife team Yuki Takano and Col Beardmore.
Although based in Australia, we spend a great deal of our time in Japan with our staff from our local Japan operation visiting our hotel and restaurant suppliers, researching new travel routes, fine-tuning itineraries and catching up with our tour guides. Periodically we also participate in our own tours to ensure we’re consistently meeting our high quality and safety standards.
We love connecting with travellers and talking with prospective customers. We know that sometimes it helps to talk with someone directly about itinerary details or the focus of our different tours. Wherever you are in the world, please don't hesitate to connect with us by phone or our contact form.
Meet Col Beardmore
Col grew up in Kenya and had an idyllic childhood exploring the nature and wildlife of the African bush. His love of the natural environment kindled in Africa very much remains with him today – he enjoys walking in the bush, practising yoga, spending time with family and fiddling with an electronic gadget or two!
Col spent most of his adult life in Brisbane, Australia, working in the IT sector in sales and marketing roles. His background in IT has given him a strong appreciation of the importance of robust systems and efficiencies in running any business. He also believes that offering something special, backed by impeccable customer service, will bring people back and encourage valuable word-of-mouth recommendations.
An inquisitive person by nature, Col has an insatiable appetite for travel – in Japan alone, he has been to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures and indeed has seen more of Japan than most Japanese! Col loves sharing the beauty of Japan – a favourite spot being Miyajima, a small island near Hiroshima, known for its verdant green forests and stunning floating torii shrine gate.
Meet Yuki Takano
Yuki was born and raised in Fukuoka in Kyushu, one of Japan’s four main islands. After graduating in English Literature from university in Tokyo, Yuki moved to Australia to undertake a Master of Arts degree in Japanese Interpreting and Translation at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. For many years she worked as a professional conference interpreter, servicing clients from the public and private sectors across the Asia-Pacific region and travelling regularly to Japan on assignment.
Since founding Journey to the East with her husband Col, Yuki has continued travelling regularly to Japan for work and leisure, while managing to find time to continue to explore other parts of the world. She believes her passion for travel and many years on the road have given her valuable insights into the best way to ensure a comfortable, stress-free experience and avoid the travel traps.
When at home in Brisbane, Yuki loves spending time with friends and family, practising yoga, going to the beach and enjoying long walks through the Australian bush. In Japan, one of Yuki’s favourite experiences is soaking in an outdoor rotemburo bath in winter looking out on a snow-covered forest in remote Tohoku (northern Japan).
Meet Ritsuko Stronach
Ritsuko is our Client Support Officer based in our Australian office in Brisbane. Many of our travellers will talk with Ritsuko in the course of finalising a tour booking with us. She is unfailingly caring and thorough, and we often receive comments from our travellers about how helpful she is. Ritsuko also has a meticulous eye for the crucial details that can mean the difference between a great experience and an ordinary one.
Now a mother with two small children, Ritsuko grew up in Osaka before moving to Australia. She loves tennis, swimming and walking, and likes to practise chado, the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. One of her favourite experiences in Japan is exploring the old town of Kurashiki, west of Osaka near Okayama, spontaneously popping into one of its atmospheric bars to hear live jazz played by local musicians and sample some local craft beer.
Meet Kaori Shimoto
Kaori is Journey to the East’s very own Superwoman! Married with three children under 10, she deftly manages a full-time job with us and is the definitive 'go to' person.
Based in Fukuoka, Kaori looks after our local operations, managing our relationships with local suppliers and organising the bookings for accommodation, restaurants and guides. Her proactive and resourceful approach, combined with her natural efficiency and precision, make her a very valuable member of our team.
Kaori gets great satisfaction from reading the happy and positive comments in our customer feedback forms and knowing she played a part behind the scenes. When she has time, Kaori loves exploring the history of local towns and discovering old temples with her goshuincho in hand– a special book for collecting the vermillion-red stamps available at temples in Japan.
Meet Yayoi Ishikawa
Yayoi is based in Fukuoka and helps run our operational side. She is an indispensable member of the Journey to the East team, establishing productive relationships with many of our local suppliers. She is also a great researcher and has helped us find some fabulous new restaurants and boutique hotels to include in our tours.
Yayoi has an IT background and is now enjoying the more people-focused nature of her role in the travel industry. Yayoi is into marathons and, on special occasions, loves trading her compression tights and running shoes for traditional kimono and geta! One of Yayoi’s favourite Japan experiences is participating with her husband in Fukuoka’s annual Yamagasa Festival, a World Intangible Cultural Heritage festival known for its high energy and spectacle.
Meet Misa Singh
Misa was born in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku and grew up in Tokyo. After graduating university in Tokyo, she worked for Tokyo Disneyland for 7 years, where her passion for customer service and giving her guests best possible experience was nurtured.
Now married with one child in Brisbane, her role at Journey to the East is Operation Coordinator. You may not hear directly from her but she is the one behind our itineraries, which are often referred to by our clients as “work like clockwork”. She makes sure that transport, luggage transfers, hotels and restaurants all seamlessly fit with one another.
Misa also loves travelling in Japan and overseas. Her favourite spot in Japan is Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama (Shikoku) where a special treat for her is going to the onsen early in the morning wearing yukata.
She enjoys playing piano and dancing (she was a cheer leader at university), and she loves sushi more than anything in the world! When she is back in Japan, she eats sushi everyday to satisfy her craving.
Meet Eri Tamai
Eri was born in Hiroshima but spent most of her childhood in Tokushima on Shikoku Island. She loves travelling and experiencing different cultures. So this led her to move to Sydney after graduating from a university.
She lived in Sydney for almost 14 years and worked for the travel industry for a decade as a retail consultant where she truly enjoyed creating some special moments for clients.
Recently she moved back to Hiroshima with my husband and 2 kids to start a new adventure. After living away from Japan for almost 14 years, Japan feels like a new fun place to be rediscovered again.
The family loves discovering beautiful scenery, fun outdoor activities and tasting the local delicacies in the cities or towns near Hiroshima. Japan never fails to impress, there is always something unique or amazing.
One of her favourite places to visit is Ibusuki onsen in Kagoshima , southern most city of Kyushu Island . Here you can try warm black sand bath. Eri found the healing sand covering her body definitely unique yet interesting experience.
Eri started working for Journey to the East in July 2018 as a member of the operation team in Japan, hoping to share some of her experiences and knowledge about Japan.