Tom has guided tours since 1992 when he became one of the two founding partners of Walk Japan. His Japan connections go back to 1959 when he began residing in Japan as the child of an American diplomat. His family’s previous contacts with Asia were mainly in China where all his grandparents and two great-grandparents were missionaries. Japan was something of an enemy to his pro-China ancestors, especially his parents who were interned in China by the Japanese during World War II. Nevertheless, Japan made a favourable impression on the whole family after they began living there. Tom completed high school at the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, the same school his Canadian mother and her siblings attended in the 1930s.
Subsequently, Tom studied modern Japanese history, receiving his doctorate from the University of Arizona after periods of research at Hiroshima and Keio Universities. His academic career subsequently took him to the University of Arizona, the University of Tokyo, the National University of Singapore and the Australian National University before his last academic post at the University of Hong Kong from 1986 until 2008, teaching modern Japanese history and serving as head of department and associate dean. His research interests began with radicalism in 19th and early 20th Century Japan, and include a book published by Harvard University Press on Osugi Sakae, an anarcho-syndicalist. Subsequently, Tom developed the use of technology in the study of history including the Nakasendo, the focus of Walk Japan’s original acclaimed tour.
Since retiring from the University of Hong Kong, Tom has been living in the USA, returning to Japan to lead and research tours. He also advises on and helps to develop Walk Japan’s school programmes business. In his spare time, Tom has been editing a diary his maternal grandmother kept from 1937 when the Japanese invaded northern China, where she was working at the time. She feared, unnecessarily as it turned out, that she would never see her children again and wished to leave a record of what she was witnessing. To unwind, Tom can sometimes be found at his local town's windmill controlling the spinning apparatus.
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