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Satoko Hirakawa

Tour Leader

Satoko was born in Tokyo but spent much of her formative years up until high school in Australia and Brazil. Having lived mostly overseas, she was curious about her own country and decided to major in Japanese history when she entered Sophia University in Tokyo. She focused her studies on the Edo period, when the samurai ruled Japan, and carried out research into Hodogaya, a post station town on the Tokaido, the most famous of all Japan’s old highways.

Satoko also pursued Chinese as a subsidiary subject and was fortunate to travel through China when Deng Xiaoping was in power and setting the nation on its course to rapid economic growth. She was impressed by the Chinese firm belief in the future prosperity of their nation and their hard work to achieve it.

After graduating, Satoko joined the energy department of a major Japanese trading house. Three years later she married and has spent much of her life since caring for her husband and two children.

In 1997, Satoko moved abroad once more, this time with her family when her husband was posted to Raleigh in North Carolina. Her children studied at the local elementary school, where Satoko was invited to introduce her culture to the students. She relished this opportunity as it enabled her to bring to the school not only her own experience and knowledge of Japan but also those of the other nations she has lived in. She remembers the teachers and students were particularly enthralled by the colourful Japanese story books, origami, and Miyazaki Hayao anime videos she brought into the classroom.

While in the USA Satoko developed an interest in the Cherokee people, who are native to south-east USA including North Carolina. She was particularly attracted by their oral traditions of relating histories and stories, respect for elders, paintings and musical instruments.

Raising a young family meant Satoko could not usually travel but she fondly recalls a road trip she managed to take with her husband and children along the eastern seaboard from Florida to Connecticut. She says it was an eye opening experience with its vast landscapes, and flora and fauna so different to what she was until then used to outside the USA.

Satoko returned to Japan in 2000 and has been living in Kawasaki ever since. She enjoys reading, writing essays on a wide variety of subjects for personal pleasure, jogging, Kabuki and Noh theatre, Chinese opera and cooking. She is also a great soccer fan and supporter of her local team, Kawasaki Frontale, Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo and Barcelona’s Barca.

Satoko joined Walk Japan as a tour leader in 2015.