Japan is an endlessly fascinating country, but it can be challenging to explore and understand – even for the most experienced travelers.
That’s where we come in.
We’re here to help you get the absolute most out of your precious time in Japan, thanks to our in-depth Japan expertise, relationships throughout the country, and extensive firsthand experience. (See what our travelers say about traveling with us.)
As Japan specialists, we don’t just “do” Japan. We live and breathe Japan, and want you to experience the Japan we know and love.
By devoting ourselves to Japan, we can offer you a truly specialized and profound experience.
About Boutique Japan Travel Company
Founded by Andres Zuleta, Boutique Japan is a modern-day travel company with a globally-distributed team.
With backgrounds in Japanese culture and language, customer experience, and the travel industry, we established Boutique Japan to help enthusiastic travelers experience this amazing country to the fullest.
We admit, we love what we do and it certainly doesn’t feel like “work.” Our job is to experience the best Japan has to offer and share the gems we discover with each of our clients.
This means exploring Tokyo and Kyoto – and everywhere from Hokkaido to Okinawa – to stay in the best hotels and ryokans, spend time with local experts, sample new restaurants and old favorites – then sharing what we find with our travelers.
Fewer Clients, Richer Experiences
If you’re as obsessed with the details as we are, chances are we will be a good fit. We’re obsessed with the little things, and passionate about helping travelers have incredible Japan experiences.
Because of our focus on personalized service and bespoke itineraries, we actively limit the number of trips we work on at any given time.
While this means we can’t accept every trip request we receive, it enables us to devote all our energy to crafting amazing experiences for our clients, and giving each trip the personal love and attention it deserves.
It also means that as one of our clients, we pay attention to you in a way that most other companies can’t, and you’ll never get lost in the shuffle.
The Boutique Japan Team
It all began when Andres fortuitously signed up for a Japanese literature class while studying at Columbia University in New York. He ended up loving the course so much that he decided to start studying the Japanese language, which ultimately became a lifelong passion.
Piper Christian, Operations Director
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.
When not on the road, I love going on new adventures with my husband, Matt, my son, Barrett, and our dog, Otis.
Ashley LaBoda, Operations Ninja
I fell in love with travel as a college student while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Since then, my travels have taken me to enchanting places throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Several countries (and years!) later, I’m still always looking for the next adventure. I love sharing my passion for travel with others, and find joy in seeking out and sharing hidden gems and local tips that can make an experience extra memorable.
In my free time, I enjoy so many things! Most notably, cooking, running, yoga, and spending time with my husband and pup.
Julie Mahon, Assistant Ninja
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, Assistant Ninja
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.
Vanessa Miller, Operations Ninja
After studying Japanese in college, I moved to Japan.
During my nearly five unforgettable years there, I had so many amazing experiences — from seeking out countryside onsen and festivals to exploring the seemingly endless city of Tokyo where I lived. I also trained in the art of ikebana (flower arranging), and earned my Advanced Certification from the Ohara School.
Even after years of living in Japan — my second home — I still find it to be so rich with mystery, and I’m thrilled to be able to help others experience this amazing place.
Eléonore Simon, Operations Ninja
Growing up in the travel and hospitality industry, I caught the travel bug early.
I was raised in France where my family relocated to a different region every few years, and seized every opportunity to travel internationally.
I first traveled to Japan in 2012 and fell in love with the country. I’ve been lucky to return several times to continue exploring this fascinating culture and I am excited to help others experience it. Few things will get me more animated than the sentence, “I have never been to Japan, did you like it?”
I left France to finish my art history studies and lived in Philadelphia and New York. After several years there, I was ready to pack up my bags again and moved to Chile.
I spend most of my free time wandering with my camera in search of the perfect shot.
Roni Sivan, Travel Ninja
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. My parents prioritized family travel, and I was fortunate to be exposed to new countries often. To date, I’ve visited 38 countries across 5 continents (airports don’t count in my book!).
After studying in New York and graduating from NYU, I navigated solo backpacking trips throughout South America and Southeast Asia. I also had the chance to pursue study, work, and volunteer experiences in Italy, Israel, South Africa, and Cambodia.
I finally made my way back to Austin to start a career in the travel industry in 2008, and have been working closely with travelers ever since. I love nothing more than helping adventurous people bring creative trip ideas to life.
When I’m home I love spending time with my pup, unwinding with yoga, and taking advantage of Austin’s dynamic music and culinary scene.
Andres Zuleta, Founder
I fell in love with Japan almost by accident.
I’d never had a special interest in Japan, but in college I signed up for a class on Japanese literature. I ended up loving it so much (my favorite book remains Essays in Idleness – the Donald Keene translation) that I decided to sign up for Japanese language classes, which ended up being even more interesting!
I will always remember my first Japanese teacher, Eguchi-sensei. As soon as we began learning the most basic of the Japanese writing systems, hiragana, I was hooked.
In 2005, I decided to move from New York City to Tokyo to fully immerse myself in the Japanese culture and language.
Of course, my studies hadn’t completely prepared me for the actual experience of living in Japan, and for the first couple of years I struggled to communicate well. On weekends I would spend hours studying grammar, and painstakingly handwriting hundreds of lovely and convoluted kanji characters.
Admittedly, it took a while, but in 2009 I was fortunate enough to pass the most advanced level of the official Japanese-Language Proficiency Test.
While living in Japan my explorations of the country began. On days off I would hop on my bicycle (or the subway) to explore hidden corners of Tokyo, and during holidays I’d travel to distant parts of the country.
I’ve had the chance to live in Tokyo and Kyoto, and travel from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and I continue to explore every corner of this amazing country, spending months here every year.
Living in Japan changed my life, and led me to want to dedicate my life to helping others really experience Japan, the way I have been able to do so.
After devoting several years to immersing myself in the travel industry, I started Boutique Japan to share my love of Japan with enthusiastic travelers from around the world.
Lola, 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.
She lives in San Diego, California.
Otis, 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.
He lives in Oakland, California.
Popsi, 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.
She lives in Austin, Texas.
Vivi, Support Team
Vivi is a sweet kitty-kat princess who loves cuddling when the weather gets colder.
She lives in Austin, Texas.
Peace of Mind
Along with the peace of mind of knowing your arrangements will be thoughtfully and carefully prepared, you’ll have a Japan specialist to answer your questions – and 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip.
We are certified Japan Travel Specialists and accredited by the International Association of Travel Agents Network (IATAN).
We donate 1% of the total cost of all trips to Pencils of Promise, a globally-minded organization that creates schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all.