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Tom Stanley

Co-founder & Tour Leader

Tom is one of the two founding partners of Walk Japan, which they founded in 1992.  Over the years he has led many tours and was primary administrator of the company until handing that responsibility over to the current CEO, Paul Christie.  

Tom’s Japan connections go back to 1946, when he was conceived in a Japanese internment camp for non-combatant civilians, and 1959, when he began residing in Japan as the child of an American diplomat. His family’s previous contacts with Asia were mainly with China where both his great-grandfather was a missionary in the 1860s. Japan was considered somewhat a rival by his pro-China ancestors, especially his parents because of their internment experience.  

Nevertheless, Japan made a favourable impression on his whole family after they moved to Kobe in central Japan through his father’s posting there. Tom completed high school at the Canadian Academy, which his Canadian mother and her siblings had also attended in the 1930s. Upon graduation, he returned to the US to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he majored in history.

Subsequently, Tom continued his studies at the University of Arizona, where he received his doctorate in modern Japanese history after periods of research at Hiroshima and Keio Universities in Japan. His academic career then led him to the University of Tokyo, the National University of Singapore, the Australian National University in Canberra, and, in 1986, to the University of Hong Kong. Here Tom taught modern Japanese history, served as head of department and associate dean until his retirement in 2008. 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. While in Hong Kong, Tom developed the use of technology in the study of history including the Nakasendo Way, the focus of Walk Japan’s original and acclaimed tour.

Since retirement, Tom has been living in the USA, returning to Japan to lead and research Walk Japan tours. He also initiated and helped to develop Walk Japan’s educational programmes for schools and other academic institutions. 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 volunteers at his town's Dutch windmill, raises vegetables and pursues woodworking projects in his workshop.