Japan is one of the most fascinating countries in the world, but getting beneath the surface can be challenging for even the most experienced travelers.

That’s where we come in. As Japan experts, we don’t just “do” Japan. We live and breathe Japan, and want you to experience the Japan we know and love.

Tofu manju buns at Okutan, Higashiyama District, Kyoto, Japan

Fewer Clients, Richer Experiences

Unlike most travel companies, we intentionally work with fewer travelers. This lets us take an extraordinarily personalized approach when it comes to your trip.

Along with our expertise and creativity, our low-volume approach is one reason Condé Nast Traveler has named Boutique Japan founder Andres Zuleta and Lead Trip Designer Roni Sivan Top Travel Specialists for Japan.

Boutique Japan is a small company that eschews volume and spends more time customizing each trip to offer travelers a fresh, creative approach to Japan.

If you’re as obsessed with the details as we are, chances are we’ll be a good fit. We’re obsessed with all the little things that go into creating an exceptional, one-of-a-kind experience. See what our travelers say about their experiences with us.

Japan Travel Experts

With backgrounds in the travel industry and Japanese culture and language, our team of Japan experts specializes in creating highly unique Japan itineraries to help travelers experience this amazing country to the fullest.

Our job is to experience the best of Japan, and share the gems we discover with our clients. This means constantly exploring wonderful destinations, staying in the best hotels and ryokans, sampling incredible Japanese cuisine, and spending time with our favorite local experts throughout Japan.

We’re here to help you have a truly unique and personalized Japan adventure, thanks to our extensive firsthand immersion and in-depth expertise, tight-knit network around the country, meticulous approach to trip-planning, and passion for authentic travel experiences.

We are accredited Japan Travel Specialists, and maintain active memberships with organizations including the International Association of Travel Agents Network (IATAN) and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). Our California Seller of Travel registration number is CST 2114860-50.

Interested in joining us? Check out our careers page.

The Boutique Japan Team

Andres Zuleta, Founder

Boutique Japan founder Andres Zuleta

The Boutique Japan story really began when I (almost by chance) signed up for a Japanese literature class at Columbia University in New York. I ended up loving the course so much that it inspired me to begin studying the Japanese language, and ultimately move to Japan.

I founded Boutique Japan to share my passion and enthusiasm for the country, and over the years we have had the opportunity to help hundreds of wonderful travelers from around the world experience Japan in a truly personal and immersive way. Read more about Andres Zuleta.

Gwynnie Vernon, Operations Specialist

Gwynnie Vernon Boutique Japan Operations Specialist

My passion for travel was ignited when what began as a year-long study abroad program turned into moving to Tokyo full-time to pursue a degree in Japanese literature. In the four years I was there, I delighted in exploring both the urban and rural sides of Japan, with their unique culinary, artistic, and natural offerings.

From exploring the seemingly infinite neighborhoods and coffee shops of Tokyo and journeying to Kotohira on Shikoku to learn how to make sanuki udon, I fell in love with the variety of things to do and the warmth of the people I met along the way. My favorite places to return to include Ina in southern Nagano with its stunning natural scenery and local culinary scene, and Kichijoji in the western suburbs of Tokyo, with its multitude of shops, jazz bars, and beautiful Inokashira Park.

Apart from Japan, I have also visited France, Canada, India, Sweden, Ireland, and various regions of the USA. Currently based in the Pacific Northwest, you can often find me cuddling my sweet cat Mercury, practicing shamisen, foraging for edible plants, or hanging out with friends in one of Portland’s many teahouses.

Kathie Callum, Trip Designer

Kathleen Callum Boutique Japan Sales Specialist

Travel has been a passion of mine right from a very young age. Growing up in greater Boston, we had an ancient copy of ‘Europe on $5 a day’ kicking around the house. I dog-eared all the pages, and would daydream about saving up my allowance to travel all over Europe someday.

When I was in my teens, I traveled with my family to Italy, and then was absolutely hooked. I ended up moving to Canada to go to University, and then on to Scotland and Ireland. I’ve traveled extensively throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, and continental Europe, and have also visited Russia, China, India, Chile, Argentina, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Morocco.

The country I return to time and time again is Japan. I had a longstanding dream to travel to Japan, inspired by a family friend who was born and raised there. In 2002, the stars finally aligned for me to fulfill that dream. I planned my trip myself, and set out on my first adventure.

By day 3 in Japan, I was drawing up a list of places I would be sure to get to on my next trip, because I fell instantly in love with the country. There was so much more that I wanted to see and do! I’ve traveled to Japan many times since then, and each time, I try to visit somewhere new. Even now, after decades of traveling to Japan, I still have that list in my head of where I will go and what I will do ‘next time’.

Megan Fussell, Operations Specialist

Megan Fussell Boutique Japan

My love for travel began after graduating college when I booked a one-way ticket to Paris. For nine months, I immersed myself in French culture, studied the language, and explored nearby countries such as Norway, Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland.

A few years earlier, I’d been introduced to Japanese culture by my brother when he convinced me to watch an anime. I was drawn to the emotions depicted by the characters, and even more so when I began watching the Studio Ghibli films.

After France, I backpacked through Japan for five unforgettable months. As part of my trip, I had the opportunity to participate in a volunteer work exchange with a group of young adults in Awa, Tokushima. We attended local festivals, hitchhiked to onsen, hiked Mount Tsurugi, and biked for miles alongside endless rice fields.

While I find major cities like Tokyo, Sapporo, and Osaka to be very exciting, it’s the countryside and nature that draw me in the most. From skiing down the powdery slopes in Furano, and gazing at the picturesque Lake Chuzenji in Nikko, to hiking the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, these are some of the memories that stick with me the most.

Natalie Watenpaugh, Sales Assistant

Natalie Watenpaugh Boutique Japan

My favorite part of travel is the personal transformation that comes with the journey. There is nothing quite like being in a new part of the world surrounded by new people, cultures, experiences, and food to spark a metamorphosis, whether big or small, in one’s life. Since studying abroad on Semester at Sea, travel has been my passion and led me to circumnavigate the world twice by age 25!

Japan is one of the places that continue to call me back, thanks to its beauty and depth. From the diverse and stimulating environment of the cities, to the still and quiet peace of the countryside, every place I’ve visited in Japan has given me delight and wonder.

My favorite thing when I am not traveling is to be outside skiing, hiking, or biking in my hometown of Telluride, Colorado, with my husband, our two children, and our husky dog.

Piper Christian, Operations Director

Boutique Japan Travel Company Piper Christian Japan Specialist

My love of travel started in college, when I studied abroad — twice! — first living for a year in Madrid, Spain, then continuing my education overseas in Brazil. Ever since, I’ve worked in the travel industry, crafting client journeys to some of the farthest corners of the globe.

My intimate knowledge of and personal passion for travel has led me on my own adventures in over 40 countries. From sleeping under the stars in the Sahara and wandering among the ancient ruins in Eastern Turkey, to trekking with gorillas in the Virunga and connecting with the masses in the Golden Temple of Amritsar, I’ve had some magical experiences around the world.

But I keep going back to Japan because it is one of my favorite destinations. As much as I love the bustle of Tokyo, I enjoy wandering through the quiet backstreets even more. Every time I visit, I look forward to indulging in the amazing and varied cuisine (did someone say okonomiyaki?). And whenever possible, I love venturing to the countryside for its unique and serene beauty. One of my favorite memories is an early-morning soak in an outdoor onsen during a light snowfall. There is nothing more rejuvenating than the soothing hot springs in winter weather.

When not on the road, I love going on new adventures with my husband, Matt, my son, Barrett, and our dog, Otis.

Roni Sivan, Lead Trip Designer

Boutique Japan Sales Director Roni Sivan

Travel has been a huge part of my life since I was a child. I grew up traveling frequently between Israel, my birthplace, and Texas where I was raised. I have been fortunate to be exposed to new countries often throughout my life, and to date I’ve visited 40+ countries across 5 continents.

After graduating from NYU, I navigated solo backpacking trips throughout South America and Southeast Asia. I’ve also pursued study, work, and volunteer experiences in Italy, Israel, South Africa, and Cambodia.

Japan never ceases to delight and surprise me no matter how many times I visit — from strolling the backstreets of Tokyo’s hip neighborhoods to staying in a remote farmhouse in Shikoku’s stunning Iya Valley, each time I visit I feel inspired to return.

I’ve been in the travel industry since 2008, and love nothing more than helping adventurous people bring unique trip ideas to life. When I’m not working or traveling, I love spending time with my pup, unwinding with yoga, and taking advantage of Austin’s dynamic culinary scene.

Vanessa Miller, Operations Specialist

Vanessa Miller Boutique Japan

I moved to Japan after studying the Japanese language in college. During my nearly five unforgettable years there, I had so many adventures — from seeking out countryside onsen and festivals, to exploring the fascinating city of Tokyo where I lived. I also trained in the art of ikebana (flower arranging), earning my Advanced Certification from the Ohara School.

I now call Austin, Texas, home and spend my free time with my son, daughter, and two sweet cats.

Even after years of living in and traveling around Japan (which I consider my second home), I still find it to be so rich with mystery. I discover something new and wonderful each time I visit, and I’m thrilled to be able to help others experience this amazing place.

Winnie King, Executive Assistant

Winnie King Boutique Japan Executive Assistant

I’ve always been inspired by travel to learn more, think more, and serve our world community better. I enjoy the anticipation of a trip.

Looking ahead, planning experiences, researching, all makes the trip a greater adventure. I currently reside in Southern California, though my husband and I are snowboarding enthusiasts. We look forward to planning international powder trips in the years to come!

When I’m not glued to my computer screens collaborating with an awesome team, you can find me following the sun around the house, usually with a YETI in hand and two pups, named Finn and Yoda, trailing after me.

Julie Begley, Accounting Specialist

Boutique Japan Travel Company Julie Mahon

My first international travels were to Cameroon and Kenya. While there, I stayed with local families and had the opportunity to live away from common tourist routes, getting instead a sense of real lives and communities. For the last 10+ years I have set down roots in Ireland with my 2 daughters, and I’m hoping our next journeys will involve an old VW bus and an open road!

Doris Melecio, Operations Assistant

Boutique Japan Travel Company Doris Melecio

I am a work-at-home mother and wife who loves travel, the beach, exploring new places – and food! I aspire to travel abroad as much as possible with my family, to experience different food, cultures, and lifestyles. In my spare time, I love reading, watching movies, and Japanese manga and anime.

Chance, Support Team

Chance Boutique Japan Support Team

Chance is a Jack Russell rescue who excels at lazing about all day, except when he’s tirelessly chasing his tennis ball or sneaking into bed.

Cookie and Mole, Support Team

Cookie and Mole Support Team

When sisters Cookie and Mole aren’t trying to walk across the keyboard to help compose emails to clients, they can be found climbing trees and chasing one another and basically living their best lives as the best kittens ever.

Lena, Support Team

Lena Boutique Japan Support Team

Lena is the best husky around 😉 She is happiest when she runs through deep powder on a still winter day. Lena loves stealing snacks, a good belly rub, and occasionally taking herself on an adventure.

Lola, Support Team

Lola Boutique Japan Support Team

Lola is a playful Chihuahua-Dachshund rescue who is obsessed with cuddling, sunbathing, rolling around in grass, and playing with her pet monkey doll, Toyo.

Mercury, Support Team

Mercury Boutique Japan Support Team

Mercury is a giant, extra fluffy long-haired black cat who loves cuddling, playing tag, and claiming every blanket in the house for his many naps.

Otis, Support Team

Otis Boutique Japan Support Team

Otis is a loving, mischievous, energetic, somewhat-smart, cuddly, playful, protective rescue. No one really knows what breed or mix he is, but that just means there’s no one else quite like him.

Popsi, Support Team

Popsi Boutique Japan Support Team

Popsi is a quirky German Pointer rescue who excels at sleeping like a contortionist and fancies herself to be a wonderful, 70 lb. lapdog.