Originally from Romania, I became passionate about Japan since I was about 14 years old. I moved to Japan in 2015, to continue my studies at Kobe University, and I stayed in Japan since then.

I switched to a vegan lifestyle in early 2018 after a gradual transition. I am also a certified hospitality consultant in Japan, so I consider myself an expert when it comes to navigating Japan as a vegan.

I enjoy doing a variety of things all the time and during university I had a lot of part-time jobs, from ramen shop server to gym instructor. Nowadays I enjoy photography, traveling an staying at nice hotels and self-development.

Meet our travel advisors

team member profile
team member profile

Alina Saiki (Founder of Japan by Locals)

team member profile
team member profile

Ruzha

Born in Bulgaria, I have spent more than half of my life outside of it, having lived long term in the United States, Sweden, and now in Japan since 2018. Full of curiosity for our world, so far I have visited 39 countries.

Vegetarian since 2001 and vegan since 2009. I have learned how to travel easily as a vegan with a tattoo in popular tourist destinations as well as off the beaten path even in Japan.

I love wandering through big cities as well as small villages, hiking, and hanging out at unique local restaurants and cafes. I am always on the hunt for seasonal activities and markets.

I find travel research as exciting as travel itself, so I enjoy delving deep into curating my perfect next trip. I would love to help you do the same!

Madalina

Nice to meet you! I’m Madalina from Romania. During college, I decided to challenge myself and learn the Japanese language. I came to Japan in 2014 through an internship where I taught English in a kindergarten. I immediately fell in love with Japan! After my internship, I decided to come back and since 2015 I’ve been living and working here.

I lived in Shiga prefecture and Osaka for most of my time here but recently I moved to Okinawa.

I’ve always been passionate about travelling, meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I’ve visited 30 of Japan's prefectures and 13 other countries in Japan’s vicinity. Whether travelling solo or with friends, I LOVE planning and researching about the places I have in mind. My friends/family always trust me when it comes to planning trips.

Other hobbies: teaching English, reading books, listening to music, taking pictures, drawing and painting.

Elena

I’m Elena (or Ellie) from Romania. I’ve been living in Japan since 2015 and have been learning Japanese since high school.

I studied in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture and after finishing my studies, I moved to Chiba Prefecture.

I am deeply passionate about mythology, crafts, and anime/manga. Not only am I well-versed in travel spots in Northern Japan, but I can also guide you to real-life locations featured in anime, books, and manga. For mythology and folklore enthusiasts, I have unique travel recommendations.

Apart from my interests, I actively practice kyudo (Japanese archery) and Japanese arts and crafts. As a devoted temples/shrines otaku, I take joy in collecting goshuin stamps from every temple and shrine I've visited.

Let me be your guide to a journey enriched with culture and fascination:)

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Ricky

I'm Ricky, from Osaka, Japan.
I traveled to over 30 countries in the world before the pandemic, then during the lockdown, I started to travel all around Japan as a digital nomad and a 'van lifer'.

That experience allowed me to rediscover my home country, from the lesser-known neighborhoods of Tokyo to small towns/villages in the countryside of Japan I had never even heard of. Japan is a fascinating country whether you are a first-time visitor hitting all the major spots, or a seasoned veteran who is looking for something off the beaten path. I am also a tour guide. Plan a trip with me and let me share all the secrets to make your trip an incredible one!

Tami

Hi! I'm Tami from Brazil. I'm of Japanese descent and moved to Japan to better understand my roots.

As of 2024, I've been living here for four years and it's been an incredible journey. Traveling isn't just work for me, but a passion. There's so much to discover, so I'm always exploring Japan and immersing myself in its culture, searching for different attractions, unique places and hidden gems. Lately, the things that instantly get me out of the house are good food, playing golf, trying something new, meeting people, and of course, traveling!

Let's talk and make your trip to Japan an unforgettable experience!