Smith fell in love with Japan when she visited the country on a youth exchange program. She spent time living on Miyako-jima, in Okinawa Prefecture, and later went on to study East Asian languages in college before living on the main island of Honshu for five years. Now she returns frequently to take the temperature of popular hotels, as well as lesser known sites like the Korakuen Garden and the Bizen Osafune sword museum in Okayama. Clients rave about her attention to detail and flexibility. She can arrange a variety of activities, such as traditional tea ceremonies with a maiko and, for those interested in film and martial arts, a lesson with the choreographer of the fight scenes in Kill Bill.
Smith has found that the major Japanese cities are ramping up their accommodations in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with new properties and renovations to existing ones. She raves about working with the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo, which has excellent Michelin-starred dining. The Hoshinoya (also in Tokyo) is another favorite, for its typically precise Japanese style and service.
"Whenever I plan my vacations, my goal is always to have an experience to remember. My first trip to Japan was an unforgettable experience and I have to give a lot of credit to Tesia. She took my interests, concerns, and budget and designed the perfect trip. Additionally, I made a couple of last minute requests (requesting private guides for a full day vs a half day and changing meal plans at the ryokans) and Tesia made it happen. The customized trip allowed me to have structure and the freedom to experience Japan. That combination is very rare, even with agencies that claim to create customized trips. Tesia enhanced my experience in Japan and I was able to enjoy both the touristy spots the local secrets. If it hadn't been for Tesia’s meticulous planning, suggestions, and input on little known facts about Japan, I know my experience wouldn't have been as impactful as it was. In summary, my goal was to experience a great trip to Japan, but Tesia's planning took that experience and made it a life changing one. She made me fall in love with the country." - Sumitra Devaraj