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Kaori Irwin

Tour Leader

Kaori was born in Kyoto City, initially brought up in Gifu Prefecture before her family moved to Aomori Prefecture in the north of Japan when she was twelve years old.

Kaori showed great interest in foreign cultures from an early age. As a child, her favourite book was an encyclopedia about the people and languages of the world. She went on to study English Literature and Education at Kansai Gaidai, a university in Osaka specialising in foreign language studies. Kaori then spent a year in Ontario participating in an internship program introducing Japanese culture to Canadian elementary school students.

Subsequently, she married and moved to Sapporo with her husband, who hails from Belfast. During the five years they lived in Hokkaido, she took up hiking and extensively explored Daisetsuzan, Japan’s largest National Park. Her husband’s job then took them to Yamagata City, where they have lived ever since. Here she has taught English at a junior high school and established a private English language school for children and teenagers.

Kaori also taught a Japanese Culinary Culture and History course to international students at Yamagata University. She has a great love of cooking which stems from her day’s as a youngster helping in her parent’s restaurant. She is particularly proud of her large set of Japanese chef knives and loving keeps them in tip-top condition.

Kaori’s home is on the outskirts of Yamagata City, in the foothills of Mt. Zao. Regardless of the season, she and her husband take every opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside; hiking mountain trails from spring to autumn and skiing during the winter months. Kaori grows her own vegetables and fuels her home’s wood-burning stove with foraged timber.

Recently, Kaori has become a fan of Netflix as it allows her to perfect her English skills while enjoying the latest TV and movie entertainment. Along with standard Japanese, her younger, peripatetic life within Japan allowed her to master both the Kansai and Tohoku dialects of Japanese, which are very different and speakers often find each other mutually incomprehensible.

Kaori joined Walk Japan as a tour leader in 2018.