Yamagata is a region of northern Japan known for its delicious cherries, hot springs, and natural beauty – and it’s here you will find Derek, our pro photographer, and expert trip planner. A fourth-generation Japanese-American and Los Angeles native, Derek decided to trade one Pacific Coast for another and reconnect with his roots. Fast forward five years and Derek and his co-founder Saori now run a boutique travel agency that excels in showing travelers a side of Japan that can’t be found in guidebooks. With a focus on rural and off-the-beaten-path regions, unpublished -yet perfect- ryokans, and immersive interactions with farmers, mountain monks, chefs, and fishermen, a trip with Derek is much more than cherry blossoms and highlights. It’s a rare opportunity to see Japan through the lens of a local. Enthralling and transformational, we guarantee this will be a trip of a lifetime.