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Kristina Watanabe

Tour Leader

Kristina spent her formative years with her family in Stockholm. Although her family did not travel abroad and Sweden was a more culturally homogenous country than it is today, she was intrigued by the peoples and cultures of other countries from an early age. However, it was only in her late teens, while a student of Childcare Studies at Stockholm’s Klingsta College, that Kristina finally managed to see the world for herself. After making backpacking trips across Europe as a teenager, at the age of twenty she decided to travel overland to Hong Kong on the Trans-Siberian Express. The adventure of journeying through the Soviet Union and China only served to deepen her love of travel.

On her return to Sweden Kristina took odd jobs, working at nurseries and in a day centre for disabled adults to fund her forays to France, Italy and Spain. In 1989, she eventually saved enough money to fund a return visit to Hong Kong to study Chinese medicine. Kristina took time out while in Hong Kong to explore East Asia, including a visit to Tokyo. What was intended to be a short trip turned into a three-month visit, which she paid for by landing a job proofreading a telephone directory. Although by now a seasoned traveller, Kristina was fascinated by the differences she perceived in all aspects of Japanese life.

Determined to understand the Japanese way of life, in 1992 Kristina returned to live and work in Tokyo. Here she met her husband and, in between raising their two children, she worked as a teacher of both Swedish and English languages; a translator of works ranging from manga comics to construction manuals; and as a columnist for a Japanese-language childcare magazine. Kristina also established and ran a crèche facility for a large company in Tokyo, creating a curriculum that combined the best elements of Japanese and Swedish childcare.

In 2013, Kristina moved with her family to Fukuoka in Kyushu, where she began a new career as a freelance tour guide. Although very comfortable living in Japanese society and imbued with its culture, she loves furthering her knowledge and experience of her adopted country. Kristina is also passionate about handicrafts and, in her free moments, enjoys knitting, sewing, crocheting and embroidering. Kristina is also a keen up-cycler of discarded goods.

Kristina joined Walk Japan as a Tour Leader in 2018.