A huge component of the Global Basecamp experience is the incredible guides and partners we work with. We’ll be highlighting some of these extraordinary guides and giving a our community a glimpse into everything from their favorite memory on the job to why they first wanted to become a guide. We hope these spotlight interviews will help give insight into their contribution to the GB experience as well emphasize how travel can be used as a vehicle for cross-cultural connection and learning.Learn more about Robert Kodama - one of our Japan Tour guides - in our interview with him below.
Where are You From?
Originally from London now reside in Osaka, Japan
What is your favorite part of being a guide? Is the job what you expected it to be?
There is a lot to Japan that I fell in love with. From breathtaking nature to the hospitality of the people, there is a lot here that is very different to western countries in a positive way. I had this urge to share what I have experienced with people from all over the world in the hope that they too can understand how wonderful this place is, even if it just scratches the surface. The job has met my expectations. I have been able to meet a lot of interesting people through this job and have been able share and re-experience many aspects of what Japan has to offer with people from many different backgrounds. The cherry on top is being able to see that I have been able to make a positive impact on someone’s visit, especially since they have travelled a long way to come here!
Tell us a crazy or wild story you've had while on the job...
I had a cycling tour whereby a very strong typhoon passed through on the arrival date for most of the clients. Everybody was arriving on different flights and the plan was to meet in Kyoto all together before moving on two days later by train to a very rural part of the country to start the tour. As the plan is to cycle between rural locations where public transport is not available, logistics and timing were critical to the successful running of the tour. Flights were delayed and cancelled for several days which led to a complicated scenario of getting people over to the starting point as they arrived. I waited for all of the clients to arrive in Kyoto and sent them on by train to the starting point. The final client arrived just before the last train of the last day left so we were able to wait without having a detrimental impact on the tour. Her arrival was a sigh of relief and we were able to proceed with the cycling part of the tour on schedule. During the tour, a second strong typhoon hit us again whilst we were out in the rural part of the country but thankfully it passed overnight.
What is your favorite local restaurant or spot to get food? Favorite thing on the menu ( or perhaps off the menu)?
Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan due to its bountiful unique delicacies originating from this city. Shinsekai in the southern part of Osaka is an area that seemingly looks like it is stuck in the past but has plenty of street food options to tackle your taste buds. From okonomiyaki (a hearty, savoury pancake/pizza hybrid) to takoyaki (octopus cooked in a piping ball of hot batter) and kushikatsu (deep fried anything on a skewer), there’s plenty of fantastic, local foods to choose from.
What is one thing about the country you work in that you think surprises travelers or that you hope to shed more light on?
Most travellers to Japan know that Japan is a very clean country but it still surprises most people when they get here as to how clean the country actually is. A lot of comments I get are related to the lack of litter on the ground, graffiti is a rare occurrence, and of course the incredibly clean public toilets! Add to this a lack of rubbish bins and people are usually gobsmacked. However, cleanliness plays a major role in both major religions: Shintoism and Buddhism, and over the centuries, the importance around cleanliness has become a deep-rooted part of Japanese culture.
What have you been up to during quarantine while the guests are away?
I have been catching up on the books I had yet to touch on my bookshelf and trying to stay active by cycling nearby to places I have not been to in my local area.