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Russ Hewick
Founder / Tour Leader

Russ has been living in Japan since 2002.

After working as an architectural technician in Aberdeen, UK, he set out on a global quest for adventure in 1994.  Starting in North America, he found himself travelling all over South America.  In time Hong Kong found use of his skills in the construction business, and Asia slowly tightened its grip.  

Soon after moving to Japan his parents came to visit him.  Russ did the research, drew up an itinerary, booked the hotels and arranged the transport.  Except for accidentally ordering a bowl of raw beef for his dad on one occasion, it ran more smoothly than he had ever expected.  Bar a few modifications with hotels and timings the Heartland Tour is pretty much that tour.  It had been his parents’ first visit to Japan, and showing them as many of the classical must-see sights, while having fun experiencing Japan, was paramount.

Within a few months he guided friends of the family on a similar tour.  The following year news had spread and friends of friends of the family came over.  Modifying the itinerary to suit he guided them around the country.  On one of those tours, while leading a trek up a local mountain, he was tailing a dragonfly with a camera and the idea for Dragonfly Tours Japan was spawned!  So with the help of a local guide and friend, Akiko, Dragonfly was born.


Ai Hewick
Marketing and Research

Ai spent 3 years in New Zealand learning Kiwi before returning to her native city of Osaka and a career in the hotel industry. Her inside knowledge of the somewhat peculiar workings of the trade has been golden within the Dragonfly team. She is an invaluable help with research and translation, loves travelling and often helps out with tours.

Ai's an avid taiko drummer in the summer between visits to the beach and she is a rather graceful snowboarder in the winter too.

Ai and Russ got married in 2008 and are now living by the mountains somewhere between Osaka and Kyoto beside a large paddy field full of frogs.

 

Akiko Haruyama
Head Guide / The Shepherd

Akiko has been guiding in Japan since 1999, initially for one of the big Japanese tour companies catering for Japanese tourists.  But for her it just didn’t cut it; she was never keen on the large groups, intense itineraries and what she called "sheep pushing"?

When the unofficial tours were a growing success, Russ mentioned it to Akiko over beers one night back in 2005.  She jumped at it and has been a driving force in its development ever since.  Now she’s in her element and loves sharing the deeper and darker sides to Japan.

Elegant as she is sharp, with her magnetic aura, dry humour and taste for all things with chocolate, she’s a treasure.  Her favourite place is the trendy city of Kobe sandwiched between the mountains and the sea and her favourite thing is going to hot springs where she can catch up with gossip.

 

Mayumi Sorimachi
Guide / Translator

Mayumi has been guiding tours in Japan since 2006. She lived in the US and UK for six years working in the travel industry, before returning home to take up the chance to show people around her own country. Mayumi is a government certified guide and when not on tour she enjoys singing with her local gospel choir, history, food and sake. "I love travelling and meeting new people," Mayumi says, "One of the reasons I like working for Dragonfly is because of the relaxed style and down to earth way to see the Japan."

 



Etsuko Sakai
Guide / Translator

Etsuko specializes in tours around Kyoto and Nara and as a lifelong resident of the area knows all the ins and outs of the main streets and back streets of Japan's ancient capitals. She runs marathons and is often out on a run before a day on tour, although nothing seems to diminish her enthusiasm for guiding people around the towns she loves. "I feel like being a guide is my vocation," Etsuko says. "I'm always thinking about the best ways to show people Japan."

 





Kaori Sakai
Guide / Translator

Kaori found her passion for introducing people to Japanese life while she was studying in the US and the experience inspired her to become a guide in 2007.

As well as being an excellent tour leader, she is also a keen performer and has many of the skills used by geisha and maiko; she can perform a traditional tea ceremony; plays the stringed instrument the sanshin; and performs rakugo, the art of telling amusing conversational stories. Or sit-down comedy as she calls it.

This might explain her expressive, animated way of talking and her infectious laugh that soon spreads across the groups she guides.

 

Midori Fujimura

Guide / Translator

As well as being a guide to foreign visitors to Japan, Midori also leads tours of Japanese people around the country, meaning she has to be greatly knowledgeable about the traditions and culture of the areas she visits lest she be caught out by an informed local.

A capable ski instructor and one-time resident of the US, Midori’s life and work have seen her criss-cross the Kansai region and she has a great love for the area's people and attractions, particularly its onsen (hot springs).

"Kyoto,Nara, Osaka, and Kobe are my favourite places," Midori says. "In every season there's something special to see - that's why I love my job as a guide for Dragonfly tours."

Haruhi Makino
Guide

Born and bred in Tokyo, Haruhi worked for a trading company and then in the automotive industry before getting her guide’s license in 2006. Her grandparents are long-time residents of the area now dominated by the Tokyo Skytree and she enjoys the new downtown atmosphere that has sprung up around Japan's tallest building and discussing the changes to the region that she has seen.

"I hope that people coming to Japan will love it more for having come with Dragonfly," Haruhi says. "I want them to feel ‘omotenashi’. A sense of ambience, tranquillity and relaxation at which you experience unforgettable moments."

 

Nobu Hashimoto

Guide / Translator

Nobu’s too polite to say much about himself but he asked some of his colleagues for a personal description and, he says, they described him as “funny, outgoing and reliable with outstanding English.”
He previously lived in the US working for a major company before becoming a licensed tour operator in 2008 and believes his international experience helps him adapt his tours to the needs of the people he is guiding.
A registered interpreter, Nobu established a local guide association, as a place for fellow guides to exchange ideas and information about their work. This collegiate spirit extends to the tours he runs which get every member involved and having fun.







Mary Miyamoto

Guide / Ronin

At the age of 40 Mary sold her house in Bristol and travelled to Japan in search of her childhood hero Lin Chung, the long-haired, sword-wielding, horseback-riding hero from the Japanese television series ‘The Water Margin’ (Sister series to ‘Monkey’).
She finally tracked him down to Tokyo’s Diet building where, now doubly her hero, he had become a member of parliament, having started the first Green Party in Japan. Persistence led her to meet him and, four years later, marry a man who looks uncannily like him.
Mary has lived in Osaka since 2004 and in her spare time, when she is not correcting the nation’s grammar, she studies the Miyamoto Musashi style of Iaido and has become a specialist on ninja in the Kansai area.
If you want a guide who will lead you away from the well-trod tourist routes to a lesser known Japan, then Mary will do it.


Zen Hewick

The Destroyer

Zen is not only is he an adventurer and explorer, he can destroy all things known to man. If you have something that you would like found and destroyed, let us know







Dan Hewick

Speedy Wanwan

Dan is the newest member of the team, and he’s fast! Not quite as foot-sure as the rest of the gang yet but he’s the quickest little dude in Western Japan on all-fours.

If you want your phone to disappear; just leave in on the table, and he’ll have it in a shot.

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