Meet the passionate Adventure Hokkaido team

You may think of Japanese people as shy, but that is the last word that will come to mind when you meet our guides. The Adventure Hokkaido team are an enthusiastic bunch who are very passionate about the outdoors. Check out our staff profiles below and get to know your personal guide for your Hokkaido outdoor adventure!

Adventure Hokkaido Head Guide & Founder Ayaka Yoshikawa

Ayaka

Ayaka Yoshikawa
Managing Director & Co-founder
Certified Domestic Travel Services Manager
Certified Hokkaido Outdoor Guide (Summer trekking)

Ayaka is the driving force behind Adventure Hokkaido, bringing together this team of expert local guides to offer unforgettable experiences in the Hokkaido outdoors. Raised in Sapporo, Ayaka has always been an adventurer at heart. After graduating from high school, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and study abroad in New Zealand at Lincoln University. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Recreation Management and Outdoor Leadership which led to her first job at aa adventure hiking tour operator in Christchurch. rom 2012, she spent 2 years in El Salvador working as a development-aid volunteer promoting community-based tourism. Inspired by the empowerment of community through tourism, she decided to return home to Hokkaido and set up her own tour company to bring more opportunities to local communities and share Hokkaido's unique culture with visitors.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide & Foounder Kazu Arai hiking in Daisetsuzan

Kazu

Kazuhiro Arai
Director & Co-founder
Certified Hokkaido Outdoor Guide (Nature)

Kazu is a hi-energy bilingual guide! He attended Kapiti College in New Zealand which sparked his interest for indigenous cultures and later led him to help build connections between Maori and Ainu communities. Like Ayaka, Kazu also attended Lincoln University to study Parks & Recreation. In 2001, he established Daisetsuzan Nature School, an educational centre for children and adults with a strong focus on sustainability and environmental awareness. Kazu is very involved in the community, he’s the president of the Hokkaido Adventure Travel Association, a board member of the Japan Ecotourism Centre, an executive committee member of the Asian Ecotourism Network and father of three beautiful daughters. He's passionate about building sustainable communities and has initiated projects such as equine therapy and the forest kindergarten program, which are currently implemented by Daisetsuzan Nature School.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Yasu in Daisetsuzan National Park

Yasu

Yasuhito Arata
Guide
Qualified ski and snowboard instructor
Certified Hokkaido Outdoor Guide (Summer and Winter trekking)

Yasu is a year-round mountain guide who has been guiding hiking, trekking and winter backcountry trips in Hokkaido for more than 15 years. He lives in Furano where he was born and raised, he loves being just a stone’s throw away from the Tokachi and Daisetsuzan mountain ranges. He’s also a super dad to three children and a PTA board member, he plays an active role in local school events and also provides children and youth with innovative outdoor learning opportunities. In his early twenties, he spent time in India and Bangladesh as a Red Cross volunteer, which profoundly impacted the way he sees the world. His passion for trekking and travelling has taken him to places as far and as high as Denali and Aconcagua. One of our favourite things about Yasu is his outstanding singing and special talent for speaking with bears!

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Tobaji in Daisetsuzan National Park

Tobaji

Koichi Toba
Guide
Qualified mountain guide stage II by Japan Mountain Guides Association
Qualified ski guide stage I by JMGA
Qualified para-sports instructor by Japanese Para-Sports Association
Registered park ranger of Ministry of the Environment

Tobaji is one of the most experienced guides in Hokkaido with over 20 years in outdoor education & mountain tourism. Born in Chiba, near Tokyo, he spent his childhood and youth exploring the countryside. As a university student he was a member of the Explorer’s Club, giving him opportunities to explore the outdoors and travel overseas, including a trip to Nepal, where he trekked Annapurna and rafted down the Karnali river. He was once your typical Japanese “salaryman”, but decided to change careers and work for an outdoor education provider and later became a certified mountain guide. When he’s not guiding, he can be found canoeing or helping rice farmers and beekeepers in Higashikawa during spring and autumn.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Ayu in Daisetsuzan National Park

Ayu

Ayumu Makanae
Guide
Ayu has been guiding cycling and hiking trips throughout Japan for the past 10 years. He is originally from Aomori, just across the water from Hokkaido on the mainland island of Honshu. Together with his family, he moved to Sapporo when he was 15 and has called it home since! An avid adventurer, throughout his twenties Ayu travelled extensively on foot in India and Nepal, and backpacked from Los Angeles to Argentina in 6 months! In 2019, he took part in guide training in New Zealand with the Adventure Hokkaido team, where he became enchanted with multi-day sea kayaking and overnight trekking trips. Throughout his travels, he’s picked up a variety of skills: from automotive mechanics, commercial fishing and farming to carpentry. Whenever we encounter a problem, he’s the first person we call on, he’s basically our Mr. fix-it-guy! Currently living in the small town of Aibetsu, Ayu is excited to share his outdoor knowledge and insights into Japanese rural living and culture with you.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Konu in Daisetsuzan National Park

Konu

Hideki Konuma
Guide
Certified Hokkaido Outdoor Guide (Nature)
Born and raised right here in Asahikawa, Konu has been an avid outdoorsman since he was a teenager. Growing up Konu felt an immediate connection to the natural environment around him and quickly found his passion for outdoor adventures. He spent almost 10 years as a firefighter, but when he heard about careers that would get more people outdoors and into nature, he was all in! He worked as a park ranger in the Sugatami area of Daisetsuzan National Park and after a few seasons became an outdoor guide to share his passion and knowledge of the area with visitors. Konu sees the outdoors as the best place to learn about yourself through finding your limits. Along with hiking, Konu loves nature and wildlife photography and whenever he gets the chance, he heads out to take photos of Hokkaido’s star-filled night skies and wildlife.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Dai

Dai

Daisuke Kondo
Guide
Known as Dai to those around him, Daisuke is passionate about two things in life: the great outdoors and photography. Growing up in Tokyo on a street famous for its eclectic mix of local and foreign temples kindled his curiosity for the world and the cultures that lay therein. At 18, he travelled to Australia to study outdoor adventure guiding and after some years moved to America where he studied to become an emergency medical technician. Since then, Dai’s travels have taken him all over Asia where he has taught wilderness first-aid and taken many stunning photos of each country he’s visited. Dai’s drive to capture the natural world with his camera has seen his work awarded by numerous magazines and publications. Recently, he has been working with Michael Yamashita of National Geographic, and is our photo tour specialist. Renowned for his photography of Japan, Dai sees Hokkaido as a treasure trove full of hidden gems to capture on camera.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Yuka in Daisetsuzan National Park

Yuka

Yuka Obitsu
Guide
Yuka was born and brought up in the countryside of Saitama Prefecture next to Tokyo. Since her early girlhood she's enjoyed playing outdoors in nature, which led her to a college of medicine and sport. After graduating from the college, she worked as an athletic trainer for athletes and people in the entertainment industry for eight years. In her free time she liked going out for hiking and walking in nature. Her growing passion for mountain climbing eventually took Yuka all the way to the Down Under in 2018. For a year, Yuka worked as a nature guide on the foothills of Aoraki Mt Cook in New Zealand. She's recently found her new nest in Furano where she continues working as a nature & hiking guide. Yuka is looking forward to hosting the visitors to Hokkaido and helping them discover the natural beauty of Hokkaido and Japan.

Adventure Hokkaido Guide Richard at Daisetsuzan National Park

Richard

Richard Smith
Guide
Growing up on the Isles of Scilly in the Atlantic ocean, Richard had freedom to explore the outdoors from a young age. Initially following a career on the ocean teaching sailing for eight years, he traded the sea for the mountains, ending up in Hokkaido after two years in the Canadian Rockies. Originally planning on spending one winter here, he got hooked by endless opportunities for learning and exploring. The next five years were spent chasing winter between Japan and New Zealand ski patrolling and ski guiding, whilst also picking up Japanese along the way and fitting backpacking and bike touring trips in between winter seasons. Richard is now back in Japan (with his Hokkaido born wife) year round, working and playing in the Daisetsuzan National Park. He is looking forward to helping visitors connect with Hokkaido and the people who call it home.
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