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Diane Tincher

Tour Leader

Although born in Anchorage, Alaska, Diane grew up in northern Virginia, a stone’s throw from the nation’s capital. As a young adult, she moved to Manila where she dedicated the next ten years to establishing and running mission schools. In 1986, after the ousting of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the ensuing disturbances in Manila became the incentive for her to leave the country. When a friend asked for her help to move to Tokyo, she agreed.

This is how, in the spring of 1987, Diane, her husband and two young children — plus her pregnant friend in a wheelchair with her four children in tow — arrived in the Japanese capital. Diane confesses she was woefully unprepared, knowing only three words of Japanese, dōmo, dōzo, and ohaiyō, “thanks,” “go ahead,” and “good morning.” With no English signage, she found herself instantly illiterate and in a culture unlike anything she had ever imagined.

One year in this strange, new land led to another, and she continued working in small international mission schools until 1995, when she and her husband moved to Kagoshima, a city in southern Kyushu. That city would become her home, and where she would focus on raising her soon-to-be eight children. While teaching English part-time, she educated her American children at home in English to complement their learning in Japanese at the local schools.

She packed many school lunches, participated in countless PTA duties, and cheered at innumerable children’s sports events. By and by, her depth of understanding about her adopted country with its long history, its many traditions, and its unique customs increased. The more she learned, the more her love and appreciation grew. When the last of her children had grown into an adult, she took a deep dive into Japanese history, culture, and geography, further improving her Japanese language skills and earning certification as a Nationally Licensed Japanese Guide and Interpreter.

When not on tour, Diane keeps herself busy teaching English at a home for the disabled, swimming, and listening to audio books, particularly The Great Courses educational series. Ever-curious, Diane's studies have included early childhood education, psychology, behavioural economics, history, and numerous nonfiction books. She often gets lost in researching lesser-known stories of Japanese history and folklore which she writes about and posts on her website, More Than Tokyo. A keen home cook, at her youngest son’s request she published a recipe book, titled Recipes for Denny. From time to time, she has to set to clearing the ash that rains down around her house from neighbouring Sakurajima, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Her parental duties fulfilled, Diane now has the time to travel further afield and re-indulge her wanderlust.

Diane joined Walk Japan as a tour leader in 2018.